In this article in Kosher Today speaking about the potential for the FDA to allow non-Kosher milk to be labeled as plain milk quotes an unnamed Kashrus Organization official as saying that milk as of now can still be regarded as under the Heter of Rav Moshe Feinstein. The article says:

Other kashrus officials reached by KosherToday also expressed the hope that the FDA would narrow the definition of milk to cows and goats, but did not see any immediate problem with the kosher status of dairy products. One official said simply: “Ask any American where milk comes from and they will tell you from a cow.”

Now, I recognize that this is a media article and thus could just as likely get what the relevant official said wrong, but is there any Halachic basis for the idea that because the non-Jewish population expects their milk to be from a cow it can be presumed to actually be from a cow?

  • Wow! Seems like an odd comparison to me. Perhaps, there is a halachic rule / precedent being used in this area that states that a common / populace assumption can be used? (Aside - do you know a deaf Chaba"d guy named Yeshoshua Sudakoff?)
    – DanF
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 17:00
  • is your question focused on the idea that a halachic standard is based on popular knowledge/behavior or that the populace in question here is made of non-Jews?
    – rosends
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 17:22
  • @Danno, well, either way. The fact is "any American" is 98% non-Jewish, so in this case it is being used to justify that the milk must not have an issue of requiring direct supervision of a Jew. Is there a basis for that?
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 17:36
  • @DanF, no I don't.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 17:37
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    @Aaron, the Kosher Today article is saying that Illinois tightened the definition of milk ahead of a possible FDA expansion of it. This legislation, indeed as you understood it, is tightening that definition to ensure that camel and horse aren't included. My understanding is the previous, expansive definition would have been overridden by tighter FDA requirements anyway. Helps if you live in Illinois, and the FDA actually follows through.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 17:53

2 Answers 2


I think he means something different. This is not an unfounded assumption in the eyes of the populace. His point probably is to say everyone knows it's cows milk, because that is what is normally used. This is an understanding between the retailer and the consumer based on practice. If anyone would deviate, expectations would not be fulfilled which would cause problems, which is why no milk seller will ever put other animals milk in their product, until of course it becomes socially accepted to.

Assuming this, this would be an explicit law in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah siman 153 where we find an allowance to leave our animals with nonjews when the nonjewish society is not rova them, something which was not allowed in Talmudic times, being that they did do this issur and there is a lifnei iver issue. To clarify, our issur of lifnei iver is now assumed to be non existent due to our relying on their societal practices.

At this point you might argue that that allowance would not help with other issurim which effect us directly. This is not true.

Ramma filling in the rest of the gemara tells us we still shouldn't leave our children with them to be watched as they can still teach the children heresy and get away with it, so we cannot trust them. This is based directly off the gemara and Rashi as brought in the Tur.

We see clearly that there is no distinction made between one type of issur and another. The case of the children is obviously dealing with an issue that will have a result on the Jewish person, and no distinction is made between the two.

The fact is, if they commonly do something that is problematic for us, we cannot rely on them not doing it. Whereas if they don't commonly do something, we can assume they won't.

The Mechaber here mentions a kol shekein to rely on them when the government enforces the allowed practice. But that is not the basis for the basic rule. The basic halacha is simply a matter of assumptions.

This idea is present in hilchos pas palter as well where we were able to assume there were no nonkosher ingredients added to the bread, back when they didn't normally add other ingredients.

Again, this has nothing to do with believing them, or trusting them. This is our own assumptions made about them.

To end off, I would just like to point out that I know many people who would never eat chalav stam chas vishalom, but regularly use nonjewish child care, whereas I can think of hardly anyone who consumes chalav stam but only uses Jewish childcare. I'm willing to bet the Ramma would tell people to save money by buying chalav stam and save up to afford the more expensive Jewish childcare.

  • But can this be applied to Cholov Yisroel, where you have a specific Gezeras Chachamim not to just rely on the fact that they don't normally add non-Kosher? Even according to the Pri Chodosh he requires the whole town to be pig free. BTW, I think the impact on the budget of Cholov Yisroel is exaggerated, but I agree that non-Jewish childcare is a much bigger problem.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 17:57
  • I don't want to answer your question al regel achas, but I think yichud with them was a gezeira too. And the end result of the child care issue is the same end result of all the food related gezeiros according to most opinions that bnoseihen was atu davar acher.
    – user6591
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 18:17
  • BTW, if you could source someone actually making this argument l'halacha, I would accept this answer.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 13:09
  • @Yishai how about Rabbi Yosef Karo? Ha ha ha. Just kidding of course. Who uses that for halacha? But seriously folks, see also in Yoreh Deah hilchos klai begadim siman 302 siff 2 Mechaber Ramma & Achronim about assumptions and price vs ease of use vs sustainability. It's also very telling.
    – user6591
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 13:25
  • I'm not doubting that such Umdenos are used. I'm questioning their applicability to Cholov Yisroel - especially when not using the Pri Chodosh, but if you found someone paskening today like the Pri Chodosh, that would be a complete answer.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 13:29

Rav Moshe's psak on "Chalav HaCompanies" is restricted to the U.S. and Canada because of the strictness of the FDA inspections and the laws and procedures involving the farms and the dairy processors. It has nothing to do with "common assumptions" as we see in European countries where such milk is not allowed.

Rav Moshe Feinstein’s Heter of Cholov Stam Revisited

Currently, the government inspects all milk farms 2-6 times per year.

Governmental (state) farm inspection protocol specifically includes a provision that only cows are in the farms’ milking parlors and/or cowyard. This provision (formulated in terms of swine) is part of the standard farm inspection form. (See sections of Dairy Farm Inspection Forms below.)

Government inspectors track the intake and output of all milk at dairies. Thus, the source farms are identified by the inspectors, and they must correlate with farms approved by the government.

In what countries is chalav yisrael not required for milk? also discusses the matter.

The official definition of milk from the FDA is restricted to cows. "goats milk" is restricted to goats. Changing the definition to include any other animal would require publication in the official FDA "Request for Comments" and require specific reference to the percentages of additional ingredients. Even discussions before the "request for Comments" is issued must first reach the public and the dairy industry.

see the comment with the link from @Aaron

Thus, according to the FDA, cows milk and goats milk may not be mixed without explicit labeling, much less that of any other animal.

There is a movement by lobbyists to include Aspartame (artificial sweetener) in the definition but people are objecting to that. If they would change to definition to include that of other animals, they will have to first publicize the matter first.

If the FDA is going to change the rules, then they would have to give the source animal on each label. Even if the definition changes, it would not allow "blended" milk from different animals. Thus, "Cows milk" must only be from cows. "goats milk" must only be from goats, etc. As a result, one should not worry about milk from nonkosher animals being sold without a reference to the animal it came from.

Senator Dan Coats letter is dealing with mock milk (such as Soy Milk) rather than milk from other animals. If milk from other animals is mixed in to the milk from a dairy, the dairy can be forced to buy all such adulterated products at the full price of Grade A milk. It is that penalty which Rav Moshe used to allow "Chalav HaCompanies".

Code of Federal Regulations Revised as of April 1, 2014 PART 131 -- MILK AND CREAM

(a) Description. Milk is the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows. Milk that is in final package form for beverage use shall have been pasteurized or ultrapasteurized, and shall contain not less than 8 1/4 percent milk solids not fat and not less than 3 1/4 percent milkfat. Milk may have been adjusted by separating part of the milkfat therefrom, or by adding thereto cream, concentrated milk, dry whole milk, skim milk, concentrated skim milk, or nonfat dry milk. Milk may be homogenized.

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    Before these things are put up for official comment they are discussed. That is the stage this is in. Not clear how this information answers the question.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 23:44
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    @Yisha Find some other information about this, because as Rabbi Yitzhak Abadi points out, camel milk is $18 per pint, there's no way they'd mix that into cows milk, it's not cost effective. Someone asked him about this supposed "article" and his reponse was: "lol-definitely gets credit for being original! i have a bridge for sale -YA" kashrut.org/forum/viewpost.asp?mid=56992&highlight=camel
    – Aaron
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 23:51
  • @Yishai I added an explanation about how the rules work. Even if they allowed the change they would not be able to sell milk from other animals without specifying which animal it came from. Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 0:01
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    Or about the likelyhood of economic benefit or other such umdenos. It is about the assetion that everybody means 'cow's milk' when they say milk.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 0:07
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    @sabbahillel, so basically you are saying that according Rav Moshe's psak, this fact that everyone calls cows milk 'milk' is not the basis. I guess that is fine, it just addresses the answer in a very minor way. I asked is there any basis and you are answering at least not according to Rav Moshe.
    – Yishai
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 16:33

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