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Chalav Yisroel Nowadays

Q: My family has always used chalav stam (i.e. non chalav Yisroel) products based on the ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, but recently we heard that some claim that his ruling no longer applies. Is that true?

A: Rav Feinstein wrote numerous teshuvos on the topic of chalav Yisroel and in each he notes that it is preferable for people to drink chalav Yisroel, but it is nonetheless perfectly permitted to use (what is colloquially known as) chalav stam due to government inspection of dairy farms to assure that only cow’s milk is used. Those who have always used chalav stam may continue to do so and should not be concerned about recent rumors that these inspections no longer exist. It is true that there is no formal question on the inspector’s forms that says “Does the milk come from cows?”, however:

  1. The law clearly requires that milk and milk-products sold to the public be from a cow.
  2. Inspectors have told kashrus personnel that if an inspector ever observed someone using milk from another animal or even having another type of animal on a dairy farm, that person would definitely be cited for a violation.
  3. It is basically impossible (in the USA) to purchase equipment with which to milk non-kosher animals, and therefore the only violations that ever occur in this realm are when a farmer will attempt to substitute kosher goat or sheep milk for cow’s milk. Even this type of violation is quite uncommon.
  4. The requirement that milk must come from a cow is so obvious and is so rarely violated that the inspector’s forms don’t even bother asking the inspectors to check that during an inspection. It is akin to the fact that when the cRc instructs a Mashgiach as to his tasks we do not ask him to check if the restaurant is using ham because it is so obvious that a kosher facility wouldn’t use it, and of course the Mashgiach will report someone doing so.

Accordingly, those who have always used chalav stam may continue to do so.