February 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Pet Food With Meat and Milk Ingredients

Benefitting from Meat and Milk

Often, pet food contains a mixture of meat and milk. Since the Torah forbids not only cooking and eating milk and meat but also benefiting from this mixture (Chullin 115b), feeding it to an animal is problematic. There is one forbidden situation, four cases that are permissible, and one subject to debate.

 

Forbidden

Unquestionably, we may not benefit from kosher meat cooked with kosher milk. Halacha considers feeding an animal (according to most authorities, even if one does not own the creature) beneficial since we enjoy feeding animals (Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 448:6; Y.D. 94:6).

 

Four Permissible Cases

However, we may benefit from meat from a non-kosher animal cooked with milk, meat from a kosher animal cooked with non-kosher dairy, poultry meat or meat from a non-domesticated animal (a Chayah) cooked with milk, and mixed uncooked kosher meat and kosher dairy.

The Mishna (Chullin 8:4) and the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 87:6) set forth this Halacha. The Torah forbidding cooking a baby goat in its mother’s milk is the paradigm for these Halachot. The prohibition to benefit only applies when there is a match—meat from a kosher domesticated animal (a “Behema,” like a kid) cooked with kosher milk.

Thus, we may feed a pet pork or horse meat mixed with milk, poultry milk, or if the milk and meat are ground but not cooked together.

 

The Debate: Basar Neveila With Milk

Bassar nivaela is meat not properly slaughtered (schechted). We may not eat such meat, but we may benefit from it. The Mishnah and Shulchan Aruch permit benefitting from an impure animal’s meat cooked with kosher milk. But may we benefit from kosher milk cooked with meat from an improperly slaughtered kosher animal?

Rambam, in his commentary to the Mishna (Keritut 3:4), writes that neveila meat cannot be assigned the additional prohibition of cooked milk and meat, ein issur chal al issur. Thus, we may benefit from neveila meat to which milk was added.

However, there is an exception to ein issur chal al issur—when the added item adds a new dimension to the restriction—an issur mossif (Keritut 14). Cooking milk with neveila adds to the benefitting prohibition. Thus, ein issur chal al issur does not apply to this case.

The Rambam makes a bold counterpoint, which he surprisingly calls a “nekuda nifla’ah,” a stunning point. He argues (as explained by Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik) that the benefitting prohibition derives from Hashem forbidding us to eat meat cooked with milk. In other words, the prohibition to benefit is not an independent restriction but an outgrowth of the eating restriction. Thus, the prohibition to benefit from meat cooked with milk is not an issur mossif.

The Acharonim debate whether we follow the nekuda nifla’ah. Much of the discussion emerges from the silence of the Shulchan Aruch and even the Rambam in his Mishneh Torah. Pri Megadim, in his introduction to the laws of mixtures of milk and meat, and Chatam Sofer, Responsum 92 rule strictly. However, the Dagul Merevavah, Yoreh Deah 87:3, writes, “one who relies on the nekudah nifla’ah in case of great loss does not lose.” The Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Deah 87:12) unreservedly accepts the Rambam’s leniency.

In practice, Rav Hershel Schachter (personal conversation) rules strictly. This makes sense since a Torah-level prohibition is at stake.

 

Whey and Basar Neveila

Often, the dairy ingredient in pet food is whey (a liquid byproduct of cheese, which separates when the milk is curdled—liquid whey is rich in two elements: a) whey protein solids, and b) lactose, which is a sugar). One may be lenient due to a double safek, s’feik s’feika, emerging from the nekuda nifla’ah and the debate of whether whey is dairy.

The OU kosher website succinctly summarizes the argument:

The Gemara (Chullin 114a) relates that one who eats beef cooked with “mei chalav” (milk-water) does not violate a Torah prohibition. The Rosh (Chullin 8:51) explains that the Torah only forbids cooking meat with milk if the milk is in the form it emerged from the cow, i.e., if it contains the milk solids. The Rishonim debate the definition of mei chalav. Some (including Tosafot to Chullin 114a s.v. HaMevashel) define it as whey. According to this opinion, on a Torah level, whey is pareve, but it is still rabbinically forbidden to mix whey and meat. However, the Rosh (op. cit.) writes whey is categorized as dairy since it still contains some milk solids. According to the Rosh, it cannot be considered mei chalav until all solids have been removed from the liquid. After extracting the protein solids, the remaining liquid is known as whey permeate. If the water component of whey permeate is evaporated, the remaining powder is lactose. Though it is rabbinically forbidden, there is no biblical prohibition to eat meat cooked with whey permeate or lactose. Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 87:8) presents the Rosh’s opinion as “yesh mi omer,” there are those who say, hinting at, but without directly quoting Tosafot’s dissent.

Thus, Rav Mendel Senderovic (Teshuvot Atzei Besamim Y.D. 5) permits serving animals pet food containing cooked basar neveila and whey. He argues there is a s’feik s’feika in this case—perhaps the Rambam’s nekuda nifla’ah is correct, and even if not, perhaps Tosafot is correct that whey is not dairy. However, the CRC (in its discussion of pet food containing milk and meat) does not follow this s’feik s’feika and forbids serving animals a mixture of cooked Basar Neveila and whey.

 

Conclusion

The CRC surprisingly certifies pet foods free of a meat and milk mixture from which we may not benefit. However, the brand whose products it endorses may not be available or suitable for one’s pets. In such a case, one should check the ingredient list to see if we may benefit from the pet food. If the only option requires relying on the nekuda nifla’ah, one should consult his rabbi for guidance.


Rabbi Jachter serves as the rav of Congregation Shaarei Orah, rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County, and a get administrator with the Beth Din of Elizabeth. Rabbi Jachter’s 17 books may be purchased at Amazon and Judaica House.

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