A mashgiach explained to me that the term "glatt kosher" means that the lungs of cattle and sheep (the 2 main kosher animals sold in U.S.) are smooth and do not have air pockets.

I hope that I have understood this definition, correctly.

Yet, even with the mashgiach's explanation, I'm confused. I see the term "glatt kosher" placed on poultry, dairy, and produce. The mashgiach explained that glatt applies ONLY to animals (in addition to beef and lamb, I assume it would apply to goats, deer, giraffe (debatable if it's kosher, anyway, from what I heard.)

So, has the definition of "glatt kosher" changed, in some way? What does it mean, now? If it has changed, when and why did this (re)definition occur? If so, is glatt kosher produce or poultry, e.g. different in any way than non-glatt produce?

  • I would hope a lung has air pockets! Glatt lungs refer to an absence of external lesions on the lung, particularly those that cause a lobe of the lung to stick to another lobe or to the internal body cavity wall. Here's a picture of two lobes attached at the bottom by a lesion encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/… – Double AA May 27 '16 at 16:15
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    The kashrut of giraffe is only debatable in the sense that people who don't know the facts can debate it. See judaism.stackexchange.com/q/2071/1713 – Daniel May 27 '16 at 16:25
up vote 1 down vote accepted

As explained in What's the Truth About... Glatt Kosher the term glatt does only mean that the lungs are smooth and would not have to be checked further to make sure that the animal is kosher.

BTW a giraffe is kosher as it is a myth that there is a problem because of the long neck. Actually, the long neck makes it easier to slaughter.

The term has come to mean "definitely kosher" and people tend to use it as an advertising ploy or to assert that they follow various chumros even though the exact meaning does not apply. It is also used even in a situation in which there are no chumros that could be applied just to try to get people to feel the "my product is kosher beyond a doubt".

Misconceptions about the meaning of glatt are so widespread that, for many, the term glatt has colloquially taken on the implication of a higher standard, similar to the term mehadrin. In addition, some caterers or stores may have only one kashrut sticker that they use on all products, and hence the sticker on the corned beef sandwich and on the omelette will both say "glatt kosher." Although it is technically inaccurate to label chicken, fish, lamb, or dairy products as glatt, it is not uncommon to find such labeling. In the majority of cases, it is probably not being done to mislead; but in some instances it may be intended to imply that the product was processed under a superior hashgachah, as per the term's informal usage.

Note that "lamb" is mentioned above because the adhesions that can be peeled from the lungs leaving the animal kosher only applies to large animals like cattle. Lamb is not subject to the leniency so it is not "glatt" or "non-glatt"

Tzarich Iyun: Glatt Kosher

An important postscript is that the Ramah’s ruling is defined as non-applicable to young, tender animals such as lamb, kid and calf (Ramah, YD 39:13). Therefore, all lamb chops, veal or other meat from young animals must be glatt Beit Yosef, even for Ashkenazim.

Is the use of the term "Glatt Kosher" a case of "Genivat Da'at"? points out that

In this context, it is more of a "term of art" or a common borrowed expression rather than purely a marketing tool.

  • Lamb's a mammal, how can it not be glatt? – Noach MiFrankfurt May 27 '16 at 16:30
  • I think that the lungs do not grow the adhesions as with beef so non-glatt would not occur. However, this is the quote from the article. I found an explanation and will add that. In this case it would mean that lamb is not subject to "non-glatt" being kosher. – sabbahillel May 27 '16 at 16:35
  • Except that per the Remo, there is no issue with non-glatt meat. In fact, R' Hamburger שליט”א (yes, I know, hamburger) has paskened that one should look for kosher v'yausher rather than mehadrin (glatt). So, by his p'sak (based on R' Breuer's) even though it was certified by a reliable hashgacha, Rubashkin's should have been treif. – Noach MiFrankfurt May 27 '16 at 17:02
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt That's just not true. Have you read the Rama? It's way more complicated. – Double AA May 27 '16 at 18:08
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    @NoachmiFrankfurt Then I add on, don't impugn other Jews based on rumors from your youth. Impugn with caution when you've done serious research on an issue. – Double AA May 27 '16 at 20:18

Rabbi Belsky mentioned in shiur that I heard that Glatt was originally a term invented by Jews in America which basically had no real meaning.

The problem was, early last century the meat industry was union controlled and someone who wanted to run a kosher operation couldn't just hire whoever they wanted, they were stuck with union workers. So there were irreligious Jews and non Jews working in all departments from slaughtering to packing.

They couldn't claim that this is against Jewish law, as many Jews did not mind the situation and denied that it was against Jewish law.

So they invented a term to refer to their specialized process to which only certain people were qualified to do. Glatt. Who can perform Glatt? Religious Jews.

He said the term had nothing to do with sirchas on the lungs, no matter the fact that people associate it to that specific issue nowadays.

And apparently, to address your other points, I would add, it basically means the same thing now as it did then: whatever the assumptions of the Rabbi led Torah observant community thinks it is supposed to mean.

  • 1 - If you can link to Rav Belsky's article, that helps. 2 - Your last sentence regarding "Rabbi led Torah observant...", perhaps this term becomes confusing even to rabbis? Glatt kosher apples and cookies? Do apples have lungs? Last time I recall, apple trees use photosynthesis to "breathe". – DanF May 27 '16 at 19:00
  • It wasn't an article, it was a shiur that I heard from him in person. As for the usage of the word, it's not so much confused as it just became a blanket term, like Band-Aids and Pampers. It just means kosher as per stringent Orthodox opinion. – user6591 May 27 '16 at 19:09
  • Yes, I got that concept of the usage of meaning "stringent Orthodox opinion". My question is regarding glatt apples and similar. If the fruit is whole and needs no bug inspection, what could possibly make it "more stringently" certified? It's not an etrog, after all. – DanF May 27 '16 at 19:16
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    Well theres hashgachos on plates and disposable tins and paper towels. Applying 'Glatt' to that type of 'hashgacha' is only a slightly more entertaining. Basically, hashgachsize everything, and make sure it's Glatt!!! What?! Your tablecloth isn't glatt?! I can't eat here! – user6591 May 27 '16 at 19:21
  • It took a while ... But, I gather that someone is coming up with Glatt kosher cell phones! – DanF May 3 '17 at 14:03

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