Shailah of the Week

Can One Eat BBQ Food That Was Unattended in a Public Place?

OU Kosher July 23, 2021

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By: Halacha Yomit team of OU KOSHER


I was barbecuing hamburgers in a public place and I went inside to prepare some side dishes. I left the hamburgers totally unattended. I then remembered that I’m not supposed to do that. Can I still eat the hamburgers?

Basar she’nisalem min ha’ayin refers to meat left unsupervised, which leads to a concern that the kosher meat was switched for meat that is not kosher. Even in the context of one’s backyard, where there is essentially no likelihood that a non-Jew may have eaten the meat and replaced it with non-kosher meat, Rav (Chulin 95a) contends that we nevertheless must be concerned that an animal picked up the unattended meat and replaced it with non-kosher meat. This seemingly far-fetched concern, the Yerushalmi (Shekalim 10:2) explains, stemmed from Rav’s observation that people were being more lax with the kashrut of meat than they should be. He concluded that this measure was therefore in order.

The Rishonim dispute whether the halacha is like Rav or like Levi who disagrees with him. Rama (YD 63:2) ruling like Levi, writes that, provided the meat is in the same place one left it, one can assume that it is the original meat. In our case, provided the hamburgers are still on the grill, one can assume nothing has changed. Ashkenazim follow this ruling.