Sunday, April 30, 2017

Aluminum foil and pans, Styrofoam cups, and Paper towels.

Over the past several decades the kosher industry has grown considerably. Food companies recognizing the profitability of the kosher market have pursued kosher certification in an effort to increase marketability and sales of their products. What has been especially remarkable is that the pursuit of kosher certification has not stopped with food. It is not unusual to find nowadays a hechsher on non-food items. Are there really any viable kashrus concerns with something that is inedible? This article will focus on three popular household items, aluminum foil and pans, Styrofoam cups, and paper towels.
The potential kashrus concern with these kinds of non-food items is the use of use of processing aids or release agents during manufacturing. These raw materials are typically used to ensure that a product will not stick to a production line, molds, or pans, and are usually used to lubricate equipment or the product itself. It is standard practice in numerous industries to use release agents or processing aids, which at times could have a non-kosher component. It is certainly a worthy sheilah to address the issues involved since these products, which will later touch food directly, may possibly come into contact with a non-kosher processing aid or release agent. There is much written about this topic in halachic literature, and some poskim actually took a stringent approach when this question was first presented.
During the manufacture of aluminum foil, molten aluminum alloys undergo a series of rolling processes between top and bottom rollers. During this process, release agents or lubricants are applied to production lines that the foil comes into direct contact with. However, initially the potential kashrus concerns are somewhat abated, since during production the foil undergoes a process known as annealing, which exposes the foil to a heat exceeding 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This process would certainly burn any non-kosher residue the aluminum foil might have come into contact with, and also qualify as a kashering through the process of libun chamur. However, toward the end of the process the temperature does drop somewhat considerably. Although any foreign residue present on the foil’s surface would still certainly be burnt out, the process would no longer achieve kashering temperatures of libun chamur, and ta’am (taste) from lubricant at that stage would be absorbed by the foil. However, since the presence of release agents is always very minimal, any ta’am that the foil could possibly impart would always meet bitul proportions and become nullified in food. In halacha, this is known as a keili hassui lehishtamesh beshefah, which is a utensil that absorbed non-kosher taste in such minimal amounts, that the ta’am imparted by the utensil will always become botel in the food cooked. The Mechaber is lenient and allows one to use a keili hassui lehishtamesh beshefah without hesitation. However, the Taz disagrees and only permits the use of a keili hassui lehishtamesh beshefah if the issur and ta’am imparted is unpalatable. There is a debate amongst authorities if a utensil is permissible after a 24 hour period elapses, since once an eino ben yomo, the bliyos (taste absorbed by the utensil) would be no longer be palatable . This leniency would certainly apply to aluminum foil, which is never available for retail sale on the market until well after a 24 hour period has passed. Moreover, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt’l is quoted as being lenient with aluminum foil, with slightly different reasoning. According to Rav Moshe, since this particular type of kli (utensil) is never available for purchase until after a 24 hour period has elapsed, the gezeira mederabbanan should not apply altogether.
Aluminum pans are manufactured in a similar fashion to foil and the potential kashrus concerns are similar. However, there is one additional consideration with pans. During manufacturing, thick foil is stamped and formed into a pan shape and a very thin non-stick coating is applied. This thin coating is a possible point of concern as well. Therefore, some recommend washing the pans before use , although it is questionable whether this will effectively remove the coating from the pan and obviate this concern. Nevertheless, since the amount of any possible treifos present would be highly minimal, there is still basis to be lenient.
Although there is a possibility on some level that these questionable materials could contain non-kosher components, research appears to indicate that this issue is more likely to be just theoretical. Another very important piece of the puzzle is that very often a release agent or aid, even when containing a non-kosher component, is independently foul tasting and not fit for consumption. Although these materials will even come into direct contact with food, they are present in such minute amounts that they will not alter a product’s quality profile or taste. If the agent is foul tasting and independently inedible it should be permitted on the basis of being nifsal meachilah. Nevertheless, there is an opinion that if possible, these items should lechatchila be purchased with a proper hechsher.
There have been rumors in recent years that polystyrene cups, colloquially known as Styrofoam, contain a non-kosher component that could make one’s hot drink treif. This is inaccurate and is based on partially true assumptions. It is accurate that most likely, a non-kosher material is used during the processing of the cups. During the manufacture of Styrofoam cups, polystyrene “beads” are mixed with zinc stearate and filled into molds. The zinc stearate is used as a release agent that enables the cup to detach from the mold after the beads have been melted and fused together. A component of zinc stearate is stearic acid, which may be tallow based from a treif animal. However, there are several considerations that should address this concern. The first consideration is that zinc stearate is tasteless, which could render it permissible despite being present in a mixture. The Shach has a well known position that a non-kosher substance that is tasteless remains prohibited in a mixture, unless its presence meets bitul proportions and becomes nullified. However, there are numerous authorities that dissented with the Shach. According to those opinions, since zinc stearate will not impart any actual taste from a Styrofoam cup into a hot drink there should be no problem. Secondly, the amount of zinc stearate that could possibly migrate from the cup into one’s food is well below what is required for bitul. A Styrofoam cup certainly would have the status of a keili hassui lehishtamesh beshefah. Therefore, the only concern would be a question of violating the rabbinic prohibition of ein mevatlin issur lechatchila (intentionally nullifying an issur), which based on the discussion above about aluminum would not a problem according to many poskim after a 24 hour period elapses after manufacturing. Despite the claims of some that they witness thin oil slicks floating at the top of their coffee in Styrofoam cups, that is actually just natural oil from the coffee itself.
The potential concern with paper towels is different from aluminum foil or pans. The issue with the towels is the adhesive or glue that is applied to the roll, which allows the first few sheets to stick together and prevent the roll from unraveling. This adhesive contains numerous components and as a result many rip off the first three sheets before use on Pesach, lest any adhesive present on those sheets contain chometz or kitniyos. However, some take the position that this is not necessary since the adhesive or glue is a non-food item that is not at all fit for eating by any standard, and should be completely permissible. It is interesting to note that glue can also contain derivatives from treif animals, and discussion of this topic should not be limited to only Pesach. Those that are lenient on Pesach would also take a lenient position throughout the year, since glue is not fit to eat as a food. There are no concerns with the paper itself.
Like all other issues, consumers should consult their Rabbonim for direction

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Kashrus advisory - Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats

Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats are not and have not ever been kosher-certified and contain gelatin. Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Crunch Brown Sugar and Kellogg’s Unfrosted Mini Wheats Bite Size are "KVH" kosher-dairy certified, not cholov yisroel.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017


This list is based on information received from the Star-KCRCOK, the OU and various companies.

Adina Organic Juice Coolers
Arthur's Smoothies
Astix Energy Drink
B-52 Energy Drink
Big Red Red Jak concentrate
Big Red Red Jak low carb concentrate
Dad's Root Beer
Daredevil Energy Drink
Fanta Pineapple Soda (However, Fanta Pineapple Slurpee is kosher.)
G2 (from Gatorade) (except when bearing OU)
Gatorade (except when bearing OU)
Green River Soda in cans and bottles (fountain syrup is kosher)
Kellogg's Protein Water
Mendota Springs Flavored Water
Minute Maid Light Cherry Limeade
Mike's Hard Lemonade and other flavors of Mike's
Monster Energy Drink
Mt. Dew KickStart Energy Drinks needs certification; contains grape juice and are not kosher.
Newman's Own Drinks
Pepsi Products from Mexico
Point Sodas
Red Bull Shots
Red Bull Cola
Snapple Fruit Punch (All Snapple must bear an OK on each label.Some Snapple flavors may be Dairy)
SoBee Adrenalin Rush Energy Drink
Spike Energy Drink
Starbucks Strawberry & Cream Frappuccino( in bottles)
Sun Shower Juices
Tahitian Treat Punch

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Surprising foods that contain animal products

Bagels and bread products
Many bread products contain an amino acid known as L-cysteine, which is used as a softening agent. L-cysteine is derived from either human hair or Hog or poultry feathers, and it can be found in many popular brand-name products. Businesses that have acknowledged they've used L-cysteine include Lender's, Einstein Bros., McDonald's and Pizza Hut.

L-cysteine (sometimes shown as E920 on food labels) is used as a dough conditioner and strengthener, meaning the dough can be stretched out to make a pizza crust, for example. L-cysteine can also help extend the shelf life of commercial breads. L-cysteine is an amino acid (building block of proteins) and is perfectly safe for human consumption.

Most L-cysteine is sourced from China, where feathers are collected from farms, and human hairs from the floors of barbershops. The feathers and hairs are processed in Chinese factories, where L-cysteine is extracted in a chemical process.

Beer and wine 
Isinglass, a gelatin-like substance collected from fish bladders is used in the clarification process of many beers and wines. Other agents used for the process of fining include egg white albumen, gelatin and casein.

Numerous foods contain gelatin, a protein derived from the collagen in cow or pig bones, skin and connective tissues. It's often used as a thickening or stabilizing agent and can be found in a variety of candies, including Altoids, gummy candies and Starburst chews, among others.
Also, many red candies contain a dye made from the extracts of dried bodies of the Coccus cacti bugs. The ingredient is often listed as carmine, cochineal or carminic acid.

Dannon's strawberry yogurt is colored using an additive made from crushed bugs. 
The yogurt maker Dannon has been under fire for using carmine (a red color additive made from crushed beetles) in its product, although its far from the only company to use the stuff.

Caesar dressing 
Most Caesar salad dressings contain anchovy paste

It's fairly common knowledge that Jell-O contains gelatin

Gelatin strikes again

Non-dairy creamer 
Although it has non-dairy in its name, many such creamers contain casein, a protein derived from milk.

Omega-3 products 
Many products with labels that boast their heart-healthy ingredients contain omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish. For example, Tropicana's Hearth Healthy orange juice's label lists tilapia, sardine and anchovy as ingredients.

Some brands of peanuts, such as Planters dry roasted peanuts, also contain gelatin because the substance helps salt and other spices adhere to the nuts.

Potato chips
Some flavored potato chips, especially those flavored with powdered cheese, can contain casein, whey or animal-derived enzymes.

Refined sugar
Sugar isn't naturally white, so manufacturers process it using bone char, which is made from the bones of cattle. To avoid sugar filtered with bone char, purchase unrefined sugar or buy from brands that don't use bone-char filters.
The refining processes for both white and brown sugar often use bone char, a granular material from animal ashes. It gives sugar its white color.
Refried beans
Many canned refried beans are made with hydrogenated lard, so check labels to ensure you're buying vegetarian beans.

Vanilla-flavored foods
Although it's rare, some foods are flavored with Castoreum, a beaver anal secretion. As gross at that sounds, the FDA classifies it as GRAS, or "generally recognized as safe," and Castoreum is typically listed as "natural flavoring." The additive is most often used in baked goods as a vanilla substitute, but it's also been used in alcoholic beverages, puddings, ice cream, candy and chewing gum.

Cake mixes
Cake mixes sometimes contain beef fat, according to Ann Byrn's book, "The Cake Mix Doctor." Many call for oil or shortening while others just add dehydrated versions of these to minimize the additional ingredients required. Hostess, a confectionery company which recently went under new management, also puts beef fat in their famous cupcakes.
Red candy
Red cochineal beetles, when dried and crushed, produce a powder called carmine, which is used as an all-encompassing dye in red foods like candy, ice cream, and yogurt. Though it previously slipped under the radar as "artificial coloring," the FDA has required manufacturers to explicitly list carmine on food labels since early 2011.
Edible shellac, also known as confectioner's glaze, coats most hard, shiny candy, with the notable exception of M&Ms. It's made from the excretions of female lac bugs (Kerria lacca).

Non Food Items:
Some scents, especially those that smell like vanilla, list castoreum as an ingredient. Castoreum comes from beavers' castor sacs — a gland located between the animal's pelvis and the base of its tail.
Plastic bags
Many plastics, like commercial shopping bags, contain chemicals often referred to as "slip agents," which are derived from the stearic acid in animal fat. They essentially prevent the polymers from sticking to metals during manufacturing and clinging to each other afterward. Some bike tires also contain these elements.
Downy, the detergent endorsed by the snuggly child, contains dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride — or a derivative of rendered cattle, sheep, and horse fat mixed with ammonium. This process creates a quaternary ammonium compound, or a quat, which basically coats your clothes in lipids, making them feel soft.
Nail polish
Shimmery cosmetics, like nail polish or lipstick, contain guanine (sometimes listed as "pearl essence"), one of the four base components of RNA and DNA. Companies obtain it from fish (notably, herring) scales.
As part of the rendering industry, which disposes of otherwise unused animal waste, the creation of crayons often includes animal fat, according to a 2004 Congressional report.
Paraffin is the main ingredient in the most popular crayons, but not many would expect mammalian byproducts in children's art supplies.
Hemoglobin derived from pig's blood is — or at least once was — included in some cigarette filters.

Status of Flintstones Gummies Multivitamin

All of the bayer multivitamins contain gelatin derived from either beef, pork or both. I reached out to Bayer and here is the response I got from their consumer advisor.
Thank you for taking the time to contact Bayer HealthCare. We appreciate your interest in Flintstones® Gummies.
However, all of our multivitamin products do contain gelatin. Gelatin is used in the raw materials to impart the characteristics of flow and make it into directly compressible for tableting. It is sourced from beef, pork, or a combination of both.
If I may of further assistance, please contact us at 1-800-800-4793 or

Kellogg's® cereal products that contain Gelatin derived from pork

Q: Do Mini-Wheats have pork gelatin? If not, what kind?
A: Gelatin is used to help the texture of the product and is derived from either beef or pork. Gelatin derived from beef is found in all varieties of Kellogg's® Frosted Mini-Wheats® cereal. I have included the information for our other products below.

Gelatin derived from pork is found in the following:
  • Kellogg's® cereal products that contain marshmallow additives (Kellogg's® Marshmallow Froot Loops cereal)
  • All varieties of Kellogg's® Rice Krispies Treats® Squares

Gelatin derived from beef is found in the following: 
  • All varieties of Kellogg's® Frosted Pop-Tarts®
  • All varieties of Kellogg's® Frosted Mini-Wheats® cereal
  • All varieties of Kellogg's® Rice Krispies Treats™ cereal 

Some of our foods contain gelatin that is derived from either beef or pork; sourcing is based on availability in the marketplace. These include: 
  • All Kellogg's® fruit flavored snacks
  • All Kellogg's® Krave Treat Bars
Please note that none of our equipment that comes in contact with the gelatin in Kellogg's® Frosted Pop-Tarts® is used in the production of the other pastries


From the Wrigley website:

We do not have certification in place from the Halal authority or the Kosher board for any Wrigley products.

Please be advised that in our STARBURST® Jelly range, we use gelatine derived from either beef or pork. This will depend on the raw material available at the time of production.