Monday, October 16, 2006

A serious posek in the U.S. just called to discuss the milk problem. I mentioned the lenient ruling of the Minchas Usher but he did not sound convinced. He is of the opinion that once the milk is mixed, we should follow the numbers: if it is highly likely that more than 1/60 of this milk is not kosher, then the mixture is not kosher.

Sounds like trouble coming down the pike for milk drinkers.


Anonymous Shlomo said...

Out of curiosity, why did he reject your reasoning? And what constitutes "sufficiently likely?

In any case, Rav Usher's has sufficiently breite pleitzes as far as I'm concerned, so I'm not worried...

7:38 AM  
Blogger Ben Bayit said...

Does what you wrote have any bearing at all on mass chicken production where we also rely on probability reasoning rather than checking each and every chicken's organs? at most the "mehadrin" producers have mashgichim at the farm level where they check to make sure that the vaccinations are not done near the organs so as not to potentially puncture them. How does what you write play out on this issue?

11:21 AM  
Blogger treppenwitz said...

Oh great... thanks a whole hellavalot for that!

If I end up having to ignore a psak assuring all milk (and I will, I assure you!)... it'll be on your head, Mr. lactose intolerant! :-)

2:00 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

My argument is based on the fact that the kashrus of the cows is resolved lekula before we get the combined milk stage. My interlocutor believes that it is the mixed milk that needs to be judged. With a herd of 1500 cows and probability of a random cow being non-kosher = .10, the chances that you have less than 1/60 non-kosher is (as you know) vanishingly small.

The chickens are discrete entities so there is much less of a problem regarding following the majority.

Hey, I'm on the side of the angels on this one. If you'd've stayed awake until the end you'd've seen that I was defending drinking milk (even if it is systematically destroying your digestive system even as we speak).

2:12 PM  
Blogger Ben Bayit said...

I hear you. But what about the eggs? they stay as discrete entities as long as they are n cartons and uncracked. But then they can also get "mixed" like the milk does - especially when used for mass produced goodies that require lots of eggs - krembo and mayonaise come to mind. is that also different than the milk?

it sounds a bit more complicated than nice old bubbies always boiling 3 eggs to avoid blood spot issues. what % of eggs overall are from treif chickens, is the egg mass being mixed up at Osem small enought that it can possibly have no non-kosher eggs, etc etc.? or do we look at one egg at a time as a dicrete entity as it is being cracked into the mixture and thus each egg being cracked is considered kosher?

you might be doing good for vascular system as well as the digestive system.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Now that you mention it, the mayonnaise problem is not conceptually different than the milk problem. But my sources tell me that in Israel, where chickens are checked quite carefully, the number of treif chickens turns out to be quite negligible (much less tha 1/60). [The idea of the 1/60 threshold being relevant for discrete entities sounds bizarre. I really can't believe that it's relevant.]

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Joe in Australia said...

I'm surprised that this troubles you. Jews have been drinking kosher milk since we were first commanded about kashrus, and I don't believe the proportion of treif cows was any less in those days.

Since the proportion of treif cows is a minority each cow has a chezkas kashrus. Her milk also has a chazaka that it comes from a kosher animal. We only need to worry about percentages if the animals lose their chazaka, perhaps through a veterinary operation or some other means.

I recall that there was a controversy about an operation done on some cows to cure bloating. It was argued that this operation made the cows treifos, and this would have actually caused the problem you describe. As I recall the problem was resolved by invoking bittul, although I'm not entirely satisfied with that answer.

2:52 AM  
Anonymous alter yid # ? said...

Do you know if any of the Cholov Yisroel producers in the US are publicly traded? I smell a bonanza on the way....

5:06 AM  
Blogger Frum Jew said...

Alter Yid, I don't see how Cholov Yisroel producers would do any better. They have mashgichim to watch that their milk isn't mixed with other non-supervised milk. But as I understand the problem, they are just as likely to have 'treif' cows (and thereby, treif milk) as the non-Cholov Yisroel producers.

Oh, and by the way, as an answer to Joe in Australia, I have a friend who is a shochet in America. He told me several decades ago that different farms/herds produce different percentages of kosher or glatt kosher animals. For example, 20 years ago, the healthiest herds (and therefore, the largest percentage of glatt cattle per herd) came from Amish farms. He believed that this was because they used the most natural feed for the cattle and therefore, the Amish cattle had the healthiest diets. So, different herds can have way different percentages of kosher vs. non-kosher cattle. This may play a role in this issue.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Joe in Australia said...

Unless and until unexamined cows lose their chezkas kashrus the percentage of treifos should be irrelevant.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Shlomo said...

Well, Ben, I kind of guessed that that was the main idea. But, oddly enough, I think that you're pretty clearly right here - your reasoning for considering the herd essentially "parish" is quite convincing.

And furthermore, any particular milk I buy (from modern mass farms) is a mixture of milk from multiple tanks, each of which came from just a subset of the cows in a particular herd, so one could apply parish a second time as well...

7:56 AM  

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