Shabbat Parashat Bo| 5764
Ask the Rabbi
Question: I was making a roast, and a drop of milk spilled on it. Is it still kosher?
Answer: When milk falls into a pot with meat in it, it can create the forbidden substance known as basar b’chalav if there is enough milk to leave a taste in the “meaty” food. This is measured by seeing if the volume of milk is at least 1/60th of the volume of the meaty food (Rama, Yoreh Deah 92:1). This system works smoothly when the milk spreads out uniformly throughout the contents of the pot, which happens when the food is soupy. However, if the milk falls onto a solid piece of meat, then we have to try to figure out how far into the food the milk penetrated, as we shall see. (If the milk fell into a pot with solid pieces of meat protruding from gravy, the situation is much more complicated and beyond our present scope (see Shulchan Aruch, YD 92:2,3)).
Several factors affect if and how far the taste of one food is absorbed by the food it falls upon. The most basic factor is the heat of the food. In a case where the bottom food is being cooked, there is significant absorption even if that which falls on top of it is cold (Shulchan Aruch, YD 105:3, based on the rule, tata’ah gavar). However, even if absorbed, will the drop of milk spread throughout the roast?
We assume that the milk will “travel” at least up to a k’dei netilla, the amount of area which can be removed as a piece (ibid.:4). This is the radius (in depth, as well as on the surface) of a little less than an inch around the place where the milk fell. However, when the food(s) are fatty, then there is a likelihood that the taste will spread throughout the piece. To make a very long story short (see Rama, YD 105:5; Shach 105:19 and much more), we must consider the possibility that the milk taste can spread throughout the roast.
The assumption that the milk taste will spread seems like a factor to create issur, but it can, in theory, be cause for leniency. If, as likely, the roast is at least 60 times the volume of the milk, then the milk taste will be diluted to the point of bitul, where it loses its impact on the meat. So a big roast and/or a small spill will keep the roast kosher. However, since it is likely that all or a large portion of the milk will remain near the area it fell, the kdei netilla around that area must be removed (Rama, ibid.).
If the whole roast does become forbidden or if some milk rolls onto the pan in which the roast is cooking in a manner that there isn’t enough gravy for bitul, then the pan needs kashering.
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