The Talmud says milk is not kosher unless a Jew supervises the milking, to be sure it's just kosher-animal milk.

Assuming one goes by the ruling of R' Moshe Feinstein and others that "knowing" is considered like "seeing", the combination of regulation and economics in the USA is such that we know that commercial milk is 100% cow's milk. (Okay there's added vitamins but they're batel, that's a different topic.) Hence we drink "chalav stam" a.k.a. "chalav hacompanies" a.k.a. "non-chalav yisrael" or call it what you will. (And those who drink only chalav yisrael usually accept R' Moshe at some level and treat their practice as a chumra [a chumra recommended by R' Moshe himself in many cases].)

In other countries of the world: Can you do the same? Or is traditional Jewish supervision required? In which countries?

This is a "moooot" point in Israel as there will be Jews working in the dairy farms; and theoretically you could have a country where the regulation and economics are there, but everyone follows the local rabbi who rejects R' Moshe's argument, though I'm not aware of any such place.

  • Even in US/Canada the matter is not so simple with Cholov-Akum aka Cholov-Stam, as seen from book "KOSHER MILK IN JEWISH LAW" w. Askama and a Letter of R. M. Feinstein, that can be found here: holmininternational613.com
    – Daniel
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 11:41
  • 2
    The "haskama" is a "nice-guy" haskama, but he says explicitly he did not review the actual dinim. So I'm not sure why you point it out -- the haskama doesn't indicate that there is anything "not so simple" with Cholov Yisroel. And R. Moshe's tshuvos make it seem like the topic is, indeed, very simple.
    – Curiouser
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:13
  • Shouldn't this actually be a question of which countries have government organizations that enforce food safety and honest labeling?
    – avi
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 11:45
  • @Avi it's some combination of regulation and availability/economics. If the magical island of Bovinia has cows but no pigs, camels, horses, etc., then you'd be good to go there without any government laws. On the flipside, plenty of governments have laws on the books that no one keeps. Someone challenged Rav Moshe -- "but I hear the USDA inspectors can be paid off!". Rav Moshe replied -- "even if that was so, a company only greases palms so it can act in self-interest. Why would an American dairy company want to bring in camel milk, then pay more to cover it up?"
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 17, 2013 at 12:08
  • Why is it moot in Israel? Milk of a mumar would also be subject to the issur. Like bishul akum and yayin nesech Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 14:28

5 Answers 5


For Europe in general, from http://www.koshergermany.com/travellersguide.html :

Milk and Milk Products: In most European countries no "Cholov Yisroel" or its derivatives are available. Those who care should take with them from Israel long-life milk and hard cheese. The following advises are meant for those who use non-Jewish milk (trefa-milk does not exist today!). Even those who use non-Jewish butter in general, should refrain from using light butter, since it is not kosher. Some use non-Jewish cream, others do not. Coffee cream is less problematic than non-Jewish milk. Yoghurt without fruit is allowed. Non-Jewish hard cheese (such as Gouda, Emmentaler etc.) is forbidden, but soft cheese (as Philadelphia) and cottage cheese are not considered as cheese in this respect and are permitted.

It is interesting to compare this with the language in the Kosher product lists of France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, linked from here: http://www.cisonline.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=176&Itemid=176 and here: http://www.irgz.ch/. They, (as well as the Swiss Kosher list) certainly bestow "recommended" status on plenty of non-chalav-yisrael dairy items. Regarding milk, the language in the Dutch list is somewhat akin to the LBD:

Waar in Nederland geen melk, karne- of koffiemelk o. r. t. verkrijgbaar is, kan men noodgedwongen de producten zonder toezicht kopen.

which means "in areas in the Netherlands in which no milk, buttermilk or condensed milk under the O.R.T.'s hechsher is available, one may, out of necessity, buy these products without supervision."

  • 1
    Interesting; LBD is machmir on cream/cottage cheese. "Trefa-milk does not exist today"? I hadn't heard that before; I thought I'd heard that chalav yisrael was required in some eastern European countries. But I could be wrong.
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 19:14
  • 3
    Agreed, "does not exist today" is an oddly-strong blanket statement.
    – Yosef
    Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 19:28
  • 1
    It could be that the economics of mass production of milk are such that it would just be too complicated to introduce non-cow milk into the mix to be worth it, and that this is enough to trigger the heter, according to the quoted website. Even if so, the wording is, as Yosef says, oddly-strong.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 19:33
  • 1
    IIRC correctly, R' Moshe's main argument is governmental regulation; when someone objected that govt. inspectors could be bribed, R' Moshe responded that no company in its right mind would bribe the govt. to get away with something utterly against economic logic. Is economics alone, without regulation, good enough? I'm not sure.
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 20:48
  • IIRC there were opinions in Rishonim that were more lenient in general with chalav yisrael. But we pasken that chalav yisrael is a full requirement; just that it's satisfied by any major US/UK dairy producer.
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 16, 2010 at 20:49

Community wiki, feel free to add:

  • United Kingdom -- London Beis Din prefers chalav yisrael but says regular milk is okay.
  • Canada -- I assume?
  • South Africa -- the Johannesburg Beth Din allows regular milk, but also indicates which of the products it supervises are Chalav Yisrael, and classes them as Mehadrin.
  • Netherlands -- See Yosef's answer above

See here footnote 38, which discusses the OU policy about countries that at least have the regulation, even though they don't have government inspection. (Basically the OU will allow it if they find the company to be in fear of the government). This ends up including China, Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine.

However, I have heard from someone in the Kashrus industry that more recently the major Kashrus organizations agreed to stop allowing milk from India and China without it being Cholov Yisroel, based on a specific, extensive investigation.

Some have called Mexico a failed state, however the local certification does certify non-cholov yisroel. I don't know how accepting those outside Mexico are of that.

I do think that ultimately those who are more lenient are relying on the economic incentives more than the government supervision (as really Rav Moshe Feinstein does himself at some point in his Teshuvas, pointing out the huge cost of covering it up vs. the gain of using non-cow milk). There is simply no real industrial logic in using non-cow milk in industrial production in most of the world today.

  • I have heard that chazerot are actually very difficult to milk, although I have never been near enough to one to tell Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 16:23

Rav Moshe Feinstein's p'sak was only for U.S.A. and Canada. Being that there was (and still is!) much controversy surrounding his p'sak, and due to the fact that it involves a complex discussion, I have heard from some of his students that it only applies to where he said so.

  • R' Yahu, some Chasidim don't accept R' Moshe's heter as halacha, and some are machmir as chumra. (Am I mistaken?) My impression was that basically all Litvaks in America accept the heter at some level, just often demand to be machmir as a chumra. Have you heard otherwise? I occasionally hear of those who require chalav yisrael dishes too, but this seems rare enough. Regardless: in practice, the rabbinates of the UK and the Netherlands feel that the heter applies there as well (at least if you're in a pinch).
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 14:22
  • Shalom, Are you sure that the European Rabbis are depending on R' Moshe's authority and not simply ruling similarly on their own authority?
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 14:51
  • 1
    Shalom, there were plenty of Litvishe Rabbonim who disagreed with Rav Moshe's psak. Among them Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky z"l and Rav Leib Malin z"l.
    – Yahu
    Commented Oct 6, 2010 at 5:48
  • Where does R. Moshe say that is only for USA and Canada? Source?
    – Curiouser
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:08
  • Rav Moshe was answering a query from a questioner about the U.S. in his first Teshuvos on the issue and later on he answered regarding a school in Toronto. His P'sak described the American system of Dairy farming in particular and the standards of the USDA. He clearly applied the same reasoning to Canada in that later teshuva. He never commented on the English/European/Levantine/Asian/or African systems of Dairy farming, if they have any uniform regulated system. The source is that there is no source for a heter on any other system.
    – Yahu
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 5:08

I've bought chalav stam in kosher-certified supermarkets in Israel. Most modern orthodox and liberal religious go with the rabbanut kasherut standards which do not require chalav Israel. Local rabbinates are more stringent, though. I remember the case of a friend's friend who kept a diary coffee shop in Tel-Aviv. The mashgiach refused to give a te'udah since the owner was using Nutella on the crêpes: paradoxically this product had Italian rabbinic certification accepted by the rabbanut ha'rashit and marked as chalav nochri. But the rabbinate of sin-city Tel-Aviv is more machmir and required chalav Yisroel!

  • 1
    What's the paradox?
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 20:34
  • That the central rabbinate accepts something as kosher which is turned down by a local rabbinate.
    – Aviel
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 20:35
  • That's a fact, not a paradox. Is there some contradiction that I'm missing?
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 20:36
  • I'm not a native English speaker, perhaps I'm not using the correct nuance to express it. IMHO it is odd that when a more lenient option is available a more machmir one is forced upon you.
    – Aviel
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 20:39
  • 3
    I would find it more odd if every rabbi was forced to rule like the most lenient opinion possible just because someone else thinks that opinion should exist.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 20:41

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .