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There is a concept in halacha called Basar Shenisaleim Min Ha'ayin (meat that was hidden from the eye). Basically in the olden days, if a non-jew were to deliver meat and there was no siman (sign) on it that tells us that its the original meat sent (and that the non-Jew did not switch it for other meat), you wouldn't be allowed to eat it.

Nowadays, if I would order from a meat restaurant and a non-jew would deliver the meat, would I be allowed to eat it? What would it need for me to be allowed to eat it? Tape? A sticker?

What if I have meat in my refrigerator and I have someone cleaning my kitchen, do I need to throw out that meat because she was alone in the same room?

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2 Answers

It's a problem as long as there's a reasonable chance it could have been switched.

I know of a yeshiva that ordered a dozen schwarmas, which were delivered by a non-Jewish worker from the schwarma place a few blocks away. The delivery wasn't wrapped or taped or anything, and the schwarmas inside were generic enough that they could have come from anywhere, and thus they were declared non-kosher.

Often, when picking up an order from a kosher restaurant today, it will come wrapped or taped or stapled or something, and often there is a paper slip outside the bag listing its contents, as well as the time and date. I've heard that some combination of those factors makes it tamper-resistant enough to pass muster with most kosher organizations, who will have formal standards about this kind of thing. (But as always, ask your rabbi.)

As for your cleaning lady, if she could have reasonably been rummaging through your fridge, taken out a kosher steak, and replaced it with a non-kosher steak (how are the steaks packaged/labeled?) without anyone noticing, then you'd have a problem. Usually that's not a realistic concern.

Back in the day when you had to soak and salt your own kosher meat, the question often came up of the non-Jewish domestic help who claims to have soaked/salted it, can I believe them? This means that s/he was left alone with the meat for a while, yet the meat remains kosher as it's a situation where it couldn't have plausibly been switched.

See Rabbi Heinemann's comments here

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If I am not mistaken, the Shulḥan 'Aruch or one of the Nosei Keilim describes the problem as being a concern that a rodent might drag away your piece and leave another piece in its place. I'm not sure it's a matter of trusting the non-Jew. The issue of salting is entirely separate - the Tur and Shu"'A, etc., discuss at length whether Mesiaḥ LeFi Tumo applies in a case of salted meat that a non-Jewish servant claims to have properly washed. Even R' Heinemann's comments (in the first few Q&A) state that it's a problem only if there's REASON TO SUSPECT that the non-Jew might have switched them. –  Seth J Oct 17 '11 at 18:45
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In other words, it's not inherent in the non-Jew that if he COULD HAVE switched the Kosher meat for non-Kosher meat that we must assume it was switched. I go back to my earlier comment about it being a concern of a rodent dragging away the Kosher meat and leaving non-Kosher meat in its place. I've only perused these Halachoth, so someone correct me if I'm wrong, but with sources, please. –  Seth J Oct 17 '11 at 18:49
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I think there has to be an aspect of financial gain for this issur to come into force. There is a deli in the city where I live where the mashgiach is also the cashier and the gentile workers who handle and cook the meat are in the kitchen with access to the parking lot. However there is no issur here because there is no way they can make money by bringing in something treif.

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Welcome to mi.yodeya! Thanks very much for this answer. Please edit your profile to at least include a user name (your real name or a pseudonym). To do this, click on "unknown (yahoo)," click edit, and fill in some fields. –  Isaac Moses Jan 7 '10 at 20:56
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@unknown this seems plain wrong. where are you getting this? –  avrohom Jan 19 '11 at 17:51
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