Information about the Kosher and Halal status of breastmilk and formula:
Jewish and Muslim families observe food regulations that affect the feeding of an infant from birth. Much of this has to do with the mixing of food items. Meat and dairy products must sometimes be separated from other food items, so it is important to know if there is meat or dairy in a given product. Muslims use the term Halal in place of Kosher, so the content below generally applies similarly for Muslims.
Obviously mother's milk is the best choice for providing kosher food. However, there is one situation in which there might be a problem with feeding breastmilk. Mothers who have health issues which require them to ingest non-kosher foods are instructed to avoid breastfeeding their babies during this time.
Some Symbols/Phrases to be aware of:
Ⓤ – This is the symbol of approved kosher status from the Orthodox Union (one of the strictest of the kosher certification bodies).
Parve/Pareve (*)- means no milk or meat products are in the product, but may be produced on a line that also handles milk products.
D – following the Ⓤ indicates that it is Kosher, but is a dairy product.
Good Start: Good Start Soy is Ⓤ PARVE. Good Start Gentle Plus (offered by WIC)- is not Kosher/Halal. In the manufacturing process they use the enzyme Trypsin derived from pork; its purpose is to break down dairy protein. It then is again used to break down itself so in the end product there is not pork product, which is why it is not listed under ingredients. The Muslin/Jewish concern is the use of the pork product in the manufacturing.
Ross: Nearly all the Similac and Isomil formulas are Ⓤ D except for Similac Advance Soy, which is Ⓤ * and Similac Allimentum, which is not Kosher/Halal. It uses pork pancreas enzymes to hydrolyze the casein in the milk — there is no pork in end product. Often a Rabbi will use the '1 out of 60 rule' and allow use since there is no other product available.
Mead Johnson: Enfamil Combilyte & Next Step Soy are Ⓤ. Human Milk Fortifier and Next Step are Ⓤ D. Enfamil Lipil, Infa Care, Premature and LactoFree use alcohol to dry the nucleotides, so they are not approved Kosher, but “the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council has oked to be Halal.”
For WIC Usage: So if a Muslin wants a Halal product or a Jewish mom wants a kosher product at WIC, you need to choose between soy and non-contract formula such as Enfamil Lipil and Similac Advance – they do not need medical documentation but need to “self-declare the adherence to a religious eating pattern” This is explained in WIC Module 5 slide number 45 . “This self-declaration includes the preference for a specific non-contact formula;” and the CPA must document. This does not apply to non-contract use for specific conditions, nor to exempt formula or foods.
Web sites that may help understand Kosher and Halal designations better:
Thanks to Mary Becker, MHS, PA, IBCLC for a lot of the information in this article.