Many people have heard of kosher foods, but aren't exactly sure what they are. Kosher food is food that is prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary guidelines or Kahrut, which means proper. Any type of food can be referred to as kosher food as long as it follows the proper guidelines. However, foods that are labeled as Jewish aren't necessarily kosher. The word kosher isn't used for food only since it basically means something that adheres to all the Jewish legal guidelines.
According to Jewish religion, cloven hoofed, cud chewing mammals are considered to be kosher. These include deer, sheep and goats. Only certain birds are considered kosher in the U.S.: chicken, duck, goose and turkey. For seafood to be kosher, it must have fins along with easily removable scales. Generally, the scales must be present on the fish in order to be purchased by the consumer. If a fishmonger isn't considered to be kosher, then the cutting implements and machines aren't kosher either. If food is to be considered kosher then it must be prepared with kosher equipment. There are also some other guidelines for kosher food such as: fish and meat cannot be served together, milk and meat cannot be served together and processed foods must be prepared in the presence of a rabbi.
To be considered kosher, poultry and meat must be slaughtered under strict guidelines called shechita. This means that the animals are slaughtered without any pain and suffering. Only those people who are trained and qualified are allowed to slaughter kosher animals. Once the animal has been slaughtered, another group of experts will examine it to make sure the animal doesn't have any illness, abnormalities or anything else considered unsanitary. The animal's lungs in particular must be pure and all blood and most fat must be removed from it.
People who eat kosher food only must use separate sets of utensils, pots, pans and dishes. One set is for poultry and meat while another set is used for everything else. These dishes and utensils are to be washed separately and they must be dried in separate racks or with different dishtowels. There are many other rules to be followed for anything to be considered kosher food, so if you are buying it make sure the food is labeled kosher.