Labeled or Not Labeled?

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A question by a friend on FB concerning coffee that is kosher for Pesach prompted more questions on my part and made me do a bit of homework.

I checked How to Keep Kosher by Lisë Stern for a Conservative/Masorti perspective – although Conservative, the author is quite strict in her level of kashrut. Here is what she writes:

According to the “Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide”, published by the Conservative movement, certain foods may be purchased before Pesach and do not require a kosher-for-Pesach hechsher. These include the following: “Unopened packages or containers of natural coffee without cereal additives (however, be aware that coffees produced by General Foods are not kosher for Passover unless marked KP); sugar; pure tea (not herbal tea); salt (not iodized); pepper; natural spices; frozen fruit juices with no additives; frozen (uncooked) vegetables; milk; butter; cottage cheese; ripened cheeses such as cheddar (hard), muenster (semi-soft) and Camembert (soft); frozen (uncooked) fruit (with no additives); baking soda.”

As for the Orthodox Union, they have a downlodable Pesach Guide which contains, among other things, a list of items which are OU certified for year-round use and are kosher for Passover even without special passover certification .

Concerning the type of items mentioned above, I follow the list isued by the French rabbinate for two main reasons: commodity (products with a hechsher are rare here and I only ask a friend to get me the more obvious kosher-for-Pesach products) and finances (these items are usually dearer). What is your practice? Do you follow such lists or would you rather purchase only products with hashgakha for Pesach?

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18 thoughts on “Labeled or Not Labeled?

  1. As we follow Orthodox halacha, if it’s on the O-U list it’s consider to have hashgakha. But as I live in a town with lots of kosher products, if it’s on the shelf, that’s what I tend to buy, out of convenience. I do have to be careful about snacks with kitniyot – a few years ago, I bought one for my daughter, thinking that they wouldn’t have kitniyot in our kosher butcher shop, but I read the fine print, and they were kitniyot.

    I think sugar may be one of the few items that I buy on the O-U list that doesn’t say O-U P, but it is kosher for Passover.

    I’ve been buying products for Passover for so many years that I tend to buy the same ones over and over again. I know I have to buy the dairy products early, because they get sold out.

    • I know I have to buy the dairy products early, because they get sold out.
      This is one of the wonderful things about living in Israel: We don’t have to buy our dairy products in advance. Instead, we can buy them on Pesach itself, and of course, Kosher for Pesach products are available across the country.

      • In Israel, dairy products made before Pessah bear an additional marking: ayin peh. This is used by strict Jews who know that hametz before Pessah is bittul b-60, whereas during Pessah even the tiniest bit of hametz renders the food prohibited.

  2. If you think about it, until about 50 or 100 years ago, there was no such thing as a hekhsher. So I’ll buy things without hekhsherim if the website or article about kashrut published by the hekhsher‘s website says that such product is fine without a hekhsher. For example, during the year (not Pesah), any unflavored beer is kosher even without a hekhsher. My point is that a notice that such-and-such a product doesn’t need a hekhsher, means that it doesn’t need a hekhsher!!!

    • What the hekhsher companies do is, if their investigations of factories show that their supervision isn’t necessary, they’ll say so. For example, there are civil laws saying that unflavored beer must be pure, so the kashrut certification company has realized that their own supervises would be superfluous. Similarly, from their own personal investigations of tea processing plants, they have determined that most teas do not require any certification, because any unkosher additives would foul up the flavor, and so it is in the companies own interest to avoid introducing unkosher flavors. The exception with tea is non-standard flavors. You can trust “classic” flavors like Earl Grey or Jasmine to be kosher, but non-standard “custom” flavors must have a hekhsher.

  3. Since I am only at the start of my kosher journey, I will sit back and try to absorb as much of the information as I can, and take it from there.

    Luckily, I can’t drink beer as it contains gluten, so I don’t have to worry about that ‘food’!

  4. Being a ‘gluten-free’ person, I don’t have too many worries about kitnyot.
    Otherwise, I buy what I have been buying for years and years. Famous story of teaching an old dog new tricks, I guess.
    Also, I have to travel for about two hours to do my shopping for Pesach, since in my neck of the woods such products can’t be found.
    Being a vegetarian makes things much easier, though.

    • I am glad I have a friend who can do some of my Pesach shopping in Paris but as I don’t want to overstretch his kindness I keep it to a minimum.
      I also tend to keep to the same items.

    • Kitniyot are indeed free of gluten, but they are permissible only for Sepharadim. If you are such, then you may of course consume kitniyot.

      In case of doubt, consult your LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi).

  5. In Israel, it’s easy to find tehina (tahini) that’s certified for Pesah, but in America, it’s much more difficult. So I didn’t know what I was going to do this Pesah in America, how I was going to obtain tehina.

    But it turns out that tehina does not need certification for Pesah!!! Yay!!! See here, here, here, here, here, and here. Actually, looking at the Pesah section there, I feel as if almost everything is permitted without a hekhsher for Pesah! For example, Silk Soymilk is kosher for Pesah even without certification!!! Now, every year, things change, so you should always check the most recent information and not rely on previous years’ information, but still…wow!!!

    • Tehina is in the category of kitniyot and as such is poermissible only for Sepharadim. And even then, it requires supervision.

  6. Wishing you and your readers a Chag Kasher V’Sameach, a happy and kosher Pesach.

    I am enjoying reading what you and your readers have to say about Pesach. The more we know, the more prepared we to do it “right”.

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