Eating Placenta: Is it Kosher?

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placentaI’ve heard of the purported health benefits of eating placenta, but as an observant Jew I’d never considered the question raised in this Kveller article by Esther Hornstein – is eating placenta even kosher?

After all, cannibalism certainly isn’t, and the placenta contains blood. An important part of preparing kosher meat is to extract all of the blood with salt.

Afterbirth’s kosher status is not a settled matter, but Hornstein consulted an Orthodox rabbi who has one take on it.

Rabbi Dovid Kornreich believes that he may have written the first Jewish legal analysis of whether eating placenta is permissible. (Again, he cautions that his is only one opinion – please consult your own rabbi before eating your afterbirth.)

Kornreich’s conclusion is that as a food per se, placenta is not kosher. But if you dehydrate it and crush it and put the results into pill capsules, it’s not considered food anymore under Jewish law, because you won’t taste it.

Instead, the pills fall into the category of medicine, and you can swallow them. (Similarly, although oysters are not kosher, taking calcium supplements derived from oyster shells is ok.)

Kornreich notes that you should create the pills with different cooking utensils than you ones you use to prepare your food.

Back in 2010, Evan interviewed Sara Pereira, a placenta encapsulation specialist who creates pills for women who want to do what Hornstein did.

Good Food contributor Eddie Lin went a step further. At his wife’s request, he cooked her placenta for her, simmering it medium rare in sesame oil and wine.

Not kosher, but she said it was delicious.