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Is there any kashrus issue with veal? What about with white veal?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

There are several potential kosher issues with veal.

Treifa issues

If an animal was seriously sick or wounded before it was kosher slaughtered, it is non-kosher (deemed "treifa", or "torn up"). R' Moshe Feinstein saw some very wobbly-looking calves, he was concerned if they were healthy enough. My understanding is we conclude that veal today doesn't have a treifa problem.

Tzaar baalei chayim issues

There's the prohibition of putting animals in pain for no particularly good reason. The conditions of raising calves to ensure their meat be white (for marketing purposes) can be rather extreme; R' Moshe Feinstein felt the need wasn't strong enough to warrant the conditions. I don't know how veal (of whatever color) is raised today, or if everyone agrees to R' Moshe on this.

Less rigidly, Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz commented that if someone doesn't eat meat because s/he inherently thinks religion doesn't allow it, we have a conflict with Jewish thought. If instead s/he abstains from meat because s/he doesn't feel the current system is gentle enough to its animals, that would be okay. So make your own judgement on that one.

Eating entirely non-kosher issues

There's a little-known halacha that an animal that has eaten nothing but non-kosher its entire life is itself non-kosher. (This is usually explained as a rabbinic prohibition because of how it looks.) One opinion in the Rishonim is this only had to do with animals brought as sacrifices (so irrelevant to our conversation); another is that it applies today, for any type of non-kosher animal feed; a third (which we apparently follow) is that the animal is rendered non-kosher only if its feed is so non-kosher that you can neither eat it nor derive benefit from it. See the Ramah and Shach on Yoreh Deah 60:1 (pdf).

Image of text of Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 60:1

In the early 2000s the concern was raised that veal were being fed a formula that contained both meat and milk ingredients, cooked together. Rabbi JD Bleich's conclusion in a Tradition article (winter 2007) is that the way this meat-and-milk veal feed is made (among other factors) doesn't quite make it prohibited from benefit, only from eating, hence this problem would not apply; however, he felt that if it took several paragraphs of nitty-gritty to explain why it's kosher, we shouldn't call it "glatt", which implies "it didn't take a great rabbi to figure out that this is kosher." There's also some discussion about whether they "finish" the animals with a few days of different feed, and again there's been talk whether they've redone the formula in general to something without meat or milk.

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Thanks Great answer –  SimchasTorah Nov 5 '10 at 19:11
    
do you have a source for the little known halacha? –  Menachem Dec 15 '11 at 18:19
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@Menachem, done. –  Shalom Dec 15 '11 at 18:50
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Ugh, somehow it feels as though, "Thou shalt not feed a kid its mother's meat," should be a Lav. –  Seth J Jul 5 '12 at 17:38
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