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is Glatt Kosher?
The Yiddish and German definition of glatt is “smooth”,
but when used in reference to kosher cattle meat, glatt
kosher indicates meat that is unblemished and defect-free
due to the excellent condition of the animal's lungs.
Sephardic Jews say animals that are not kosher exhibit
lungs scarred with lesions or scabs (treif). Alternatively,
Ashkenazic Jews hold the view that although defective
lungs may be found, meat may still be considered kosher
if lesions are removable and the lungs remain airtight.
However, technically defined “glatt” animal
lungs must pass the strict requirements established
by Sephardic law in order for the meat to be genuinely
considered “glatt kosher”.
Animals smaller than cows such as ducks, sheep, chickens
and goats must always pass the glatt test before being
eaten by those adhering to Jewish dietary laws (kashrut).
Although this rule may seem slightly arcane, it was
probably based on an entirely logical assessment regarding
the health of an animal. In ancient times, an animal
that appeared healthy would presumably have healthy
lungs, or lungs without visible defects, and be safe
Sometimes you might see chicken advertised by meat suppliers
as being “glatt kosher chickens”. This is
an erroneous tag since it misrepresents regular kosher
chicken as a higher quality of kosher chicken. All chicken
must be glatt for it to be kosher and edible under Jewish
dietary laws. Currently, chicken lungs are routinely
checked in Israel because of the prevalence of a viral
avian illness called Newcastle's disease. Although many
kosher consumers are highly concerned with glatt kosher
foods, the truth is that perhaps only one in 15 to 20
animals can be thought of as authentically glatt kosher.
Some individuals who follow strict Jewish dietary laws
have relaxed glatt kosher rules to include smaller animals
that may possess easily eliminated lung adhesions as
being kosher. In addition, even though meat is advertised
as glatt kosher meat, the process of converting meat
into kosher food is not complete following a lung examination.
Other steps are often necessary before the meat can
be properly prepared, cooked and considered kosher.
Misconceptions regarding the true definition of glatt
is so broad that many people generally view the term
as describing a higher standard of kosher meat, similar
to what “mehadrin” denotes. Additionally,
kosher stores and caterers may apply one kashrut sticker
on all products that is printed with the “glatt
kosher” term. This means you may see a “glatt
kosher” sticker on an omelette or corned beef
sandwich when technically, such food should not have
such a sticker. Not purposefully meant to mislead, store
proprietors may be implying that the food item was simply
processed using a superior form of hashgachah, or kosher