The Secret Jewish Food Tax

Posted on 22 Apr 2013 19:41

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The Jewish secret tax on food is an urban legend claiming that a special tax is attached to kosher Jewish foods and that this tax is paid by non-Jewish consumers. This absolutely absurd rumor is a favorite of anti-Semitic organizations and involves certain symbols associated with Jewish prepared foods which are sometimes found on labels.

Anti-Semitic newsletters and other publications frequently have warned consumers to "Boycott the Jewish Tax." The evidence for this tax is said to be found in labels bearing a large capital K, a lowercase U inside a circle, or the word parve. Sometimes, stickers bearing all these symbols have been circulated and consumers have been encouraged to place them onto appropriate food items on grocery store shelves. The stickers appear as the image below:


"Secret Jewish Food Tax" Sticker


"Secret Jewish Food Tax" Sticker

The three symbols at the top have nothing to do with a food tax. Rather, they are all symbols related food preparation according to Jewish dietary laws. The "K" stands Kosher, as you might have guessed. The lowercase "u" in the middle signifies the Union of Orthodox Jewish congregations and is used to show that the food was prepared under rabbinical supervision. The word parve is Yiddish for neutral. This means that the food does not contain meat or milk and so can be combined with any other food. You may find one of these symbols on many foods but it would be highly uncommon for all of these symbols to appear on a food label at once.

While there may be a very small cost for a food to be prepared with rabbinical supervision, this is a benefit to consumers and the extra cost is not a "tax" in any way. Yet, for many years there have been antisemitic or other publications running such warnings as this one appearing in The Liberty Bell in 1975: "Secret Kosher Food Tax Inflates Food Costs! Christians unaware that all food products marked with "K" or "U" have been taxed by Jewish Rabbis!"

© 2016 by Eric Troy and CulinaryLore. All Rights Reserved. Please contact for permissions.