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BH

This is one that I still have a problem wrapping my head to understand how this is possible.

I remember my rabbi teaching me Torah and Exodus 23 reads

... You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk(NJPS with adaptations).

Last time I checked chickens do not produce any type of milk. and the explanation given to me was that someone across the street could see me eating a chicken with a cheese sandwich and think that its a beef with a cheese sandwich and that is why we do not mix poultry and dairy.

Now to my question with that logic that is probably wrong how is Imitation Crabmeat Kosher. It looks like crab, and there is no way anyone in a blind test tells them apart without directly looking at the packaging.

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The issue with chicken isn't about what observers think about your sandwich. Rabbinic writings (that I will have to come back and cite later, sorry) record ways in which chicken is similar enough to red meat to be subject to the same rules. I do recall that possible confusion was part of the discussion, but as best I recall, that was more about the contents of stews, not intact drumsticks or the like. But the halacha applies regardless of the form the food takes.

Appearances (in general, not just for meat and milk) do matter; there is a halachic concept called marit 'ayin, which is, loosely, giving the wrong (negative) impression. It's because of marit 'ayin that if you serve almond milk with meat, you leave some pieces of almond in. (That's a medieval example.) A modern application is that if you serve those fake "bacon bits" alongside a salad, you do so in the original packaging, not by putting them in a separate bowl. I've seen margarine served with bread in its packaging, to demonstrate that it is not butter.

Proper labeling mitigates confusion caused by either natural similarity (like margarine vs. butter) or intentional imitation (like almond milk or fake bacon bits). We are allowed to eat things that resemble non-kosher items; we're just not allowed to eat actual non-kosher items.

Imitation crabmeat falls into this category. So long as it has a hechsher (kosher certification), meaning it does not contain actual shellfish, it's fine to eat. (Do be warned, though, that many "imitation" crabmeat products do contain some shellfish for flavoring; it's not actual crab but it has crab in it. That's not kosher. Look for the hechsher to be sure.)

  • The question's been closed as a duplicate. Just a heads-up in case you want to move your answer. Also -- nice to see you active on the site! – msh210 Dec 21 '19 at 20:17
  • @msh210 thanks for the heads-up. I'll have to do some rewriting to make this fit there, which I hope to come back to later. (I want to be active despite recent events; I love the Mi Yodeya community. Sometimes there's nothing I can answer, though, as I have nowhere near the expertise of many others here.) – Monica Cellio Dec 22 '19 at 1:03

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