Shailoh of the Week by Rabbi Zvi Nussbaum
Rabbinic Coordinator, Kosher Hotline Administrator for the Orthodox Union
Halacha: We are not allowed to eat meat after eating certain types of cheese. In Yoreh Deah 89:2, the Rema writes, “And there are those who are strict and do not consume meat after eating cheese (source: Mordechai and Beis Yosef in the name of Maharam; v.Tur Yoreh Deah 89). That is our minhag: we do not eat any meat, even poultry, after hard cheese.
Exceptions: Those who are lenient must cleanse and rinse their mouths and wash their hands (before eating meat after cheese).
Preference: To be strict and wait after eating certain cheeses before eating meat just like eating dairy after meat. (V. Taz ibid. s.k. 4.)
The Shach (ibid. s.k. 16) explains that “hard cheese,” as referenced by the Rema, means cheese which has aged (approximately) six months. Poskim (halachic authorities) note that after eating pungent, strong-tasting cheeses, one should similarly wait before eating meat, regardless of the cheese’s age. (V. Taz ibid. s.k. 4.)
It is the position of the OU’s poskim (halachic authorities) that one need only wait between eating aged cheese and meat if the cheese is of a variety that is intentionally aged in production, such as Parmesan (aged in production at least 10 months) and Emmental (aged in production at least 6 months). One need not wait after consuming non-aged cheese that is then incidentally aged in refrigerator shelves and exhibits the same texture and taste as it should exhibit in its non-aged state.
However, it has come to our attention that some non-aged cheeses, if left to age in their packaging, may acquire a meshichas ta’am – a very potent taste – which is one of the factors that requires a person to wait after certain cheeses. (V. Taz. s.k. 4 and other poskim on Shulchan Aruch Yoreh 89:2.) Should a person notice that an otherwise non-aged cheese which has aged after production presents a very potent taste, or that it has acquired a brittle texture similar to that of aged cheeses, they should treat such cheese the same as regular aged cheese and wait for the full period before consuming meat.