Food laws have made correct and complete labelling a very important part of food manufacturing. Manufacturers are required by law to add label to foods packages to be a source of information that consumer like and trust. There are many reasons food labelling is necessary, most for nutrition and safety.
I’m sure I have glanced past this symbol before but never took the time to research it’s meaning.
There are symbols that are printed on food packs to pass information to the consumer but often we either don’t check them or simply disregard them. This article will show you ten symbols or signs that you may have come across on food packages in the past. If you have not seen any of them before, you would likely come across it in the future. If and when you do, you would know the meaning.
The federal government has required all sorts of symbols and markings on the packaging of our food, many for our health and safety. But there is one symbol on quite a few of our most common food items that has little to do directly with general health or safety, and you just might not know what it means.
There is a symbol that appears on nearly 40 percent of the packaged food you buy at the grocery stores. Called the “Hechsher,” the marking is simply a circle with a capital “U” inside and it is a sure thing that you have food items marked with the Hechsher symbol in your home right now.
So what does the Hechsher signify? The symbol included on so many of the food items you may enjoy is the symbol that certifies that the item is kosher and conforms to the requirements of what’s known as halakha. The requirements for Hechsher compliance have generally been drawn from the Torah, the central religious reference of the Judaic tradition.
It is included on a wide range of food products including Oreos, Coca-Cola, Canada Dry, Cinnamon Chex, and other cereals. In some cases, even the 5 Hour Energy Drink is kosher. In some cases, kosher food items are said to be better for people who are allergic to dairy.
A Hechsher is also seen on numerous non-food items such as cleaning agents and disposable cutlery which come in contact with foods. The marking indicates that ingredients don’t contain any animal extracts or other prohibited substances.
I have taken the extra time at the supermarket looking at nutrition labels and expiration dates. I’m generally concerned with sodium, fat, sugar and preservatives, oh yes, and of course the dreaded calorie count. I am somewhat familiar with the term Kosher. Being german and not coming from a Jewish dissent I really never paid much attention to the true meaning of the word Kosher.
As it says in the German, Man ist was man isst! Man is what man eats. The word kosher is familiar and, at the same time, foreign. One may think of strict rules and religious regulations.
In Hebrew, “Kashrus,” from the root kosher (or “kasher”), means suitable and/or “pure”, thus ensuring fitness for consumption.
These are words to live by. I will be mindful of the Hechsher symbol every time I shop, also I’ll be paying closer attention to all symbols on packaging.
So, next time you buy something at the grocery store, take a look…
Be well be informed and be safe!
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