Volume 34 Number 62
                 Produced: Thu May 24  7:51:10 US/Eastern 2001

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Canned Peas (5)
         [Ira L. Jacobson, Gershon Dubin, Nadine Bonner, Beth and David
Cohen, Frank Silbermann]
Food Labeling
         [Michael and Abby Pitkowsky]
         [Boruch Merzel]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 22:35:43 +0300
Subject: Re: Canned Peas

Rabbi Fred (Yeshuah) E. Dweck wrote in  mail-jewish Vol. 34 #59 Digest:

>One might want to have a look at Shulchan Aruch, Yore Deah 95 which talks
>about cooking a parve product, such as vegetables, in a meat pot which is
>clean, that it may be eaten with dairy.

I would appreciate Rabbi Dweck's expanding a bit with regard to whether or 
not the pot is ben yomo.

V'dabeik libeynu bemitzvotav.

                 IRA L. JACOBSON

From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 23:15:27 -0400
Subject: Canned Peas

From: Fred Dweck <fredd@...> 

<<One might want to have a look at Shulchan Aruch, Yore Deah 95 >>
<<Certainly, for Sephardim, who have accepted 
 the pesaks of R. Yosef Karo as final, this is clearly permitted. 
 Therefore, the question of "dairy equipment" for a parve product is no 

        The problem with this reasoning is two-fold.  First, hashgachos
in America are geared to Ashkenazi pesak, certainly lechumra. Therefore,
if the Bes Yosef rules more leniently than the Rema, the pesak will
follow the Rema.  (I'm not sure what the pesak would be for the reverse

        The second problem is that the Shach and Taz there both say that
the leniency of eating the dairy/meat equipment food with the opposite
type is only if it was already cooked in the D/ME.  Even according to
the Bes Yosef one is not permitted to cook food in dairy equipment for
use with meat.  This renders the logic of packaging dairy equipment food
as pareve problematic.

From: Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@...>

<<I still maintain, however, that it is important for independent,
 knowledgeable Rabbanim to explain to the kosher public the reason for
 hechsherim on certain ostensibly innocuous products.>>

        This type of information is very much more in the public domain
than ever before; you need only read the publications described and, if
necessary, call for further information if that provided does not
satisfy. The kashrus publications are usually quite forthcoming.

<<The question of the need for hashgacha in all processed products is
 another issue.  In the past, knowledgeable Rabbanim working in kashrut
 have told us that certain cereals were acceptable without official
 certification (or with just the generic K) such as Rice Krispies.  Is
 this still the case?  If not, what has changed?>>

        This is the crux of the problem.  If one hears, from a reliable
souce, such statements as "Kellog's Rice Krispies is kosher even without
a hechsher", and let us grant that the statement is true.  What is the
shelf life of that assurance?  If and when they decide to reformulate or
purchase something from an alternate supplier, will you know?  Will your
knowledgeable kashrus source know?  How soon after if happens?

        That's the advantage of a hechsher even is something is "no
problem"; one can rest assured that there remains no problem so long as
the hechsher remains.

        I am, of course, aware that this system has its problems.  But
at least there is a mechanism for it to work properly.

<<Another question relates to the issue of certifying organizations
 giving their approval on a product without offering any clue in the
 list of ingredients as to why a particular component is kosher.>>

        Those ingredient lists can be in a mighty small font.  Have you
tried asking the organization for their reasons?  Again, they usually
try to be as informative as possible.

From: David Riceman <dr@...>

<<An unscientific poll of my friends-and-relations indicates that almost
 all of us would be thrilled to find a reliable source of non-glatt
 kosher meat.>>

        Let me make myself a little more clear.  I did NOT intend to say
either that our meat is glatt according to the Bes Yosef definition or
that one should in fact try to obtain such meat.  As a matter of fact,
this type of meat is sold in certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn with
large Sefaradi populations specifically as "Bes Yosef glatt" (Oh, all
right, Bet Yosef glatt)

        What I did mean to say is that as a matter of FACT, not halacha,
the reliable sources of meat nowadays are by and large glatt.  It is
virtually impossible to find

        (Side note: I don't understand why, if you in fact are getting
"real" glatt, you'd be thrilled to find non glatt. )

        meat which is reliably kosher and not (labeled as) glatt. Fact,
not halacha or chumra.  If all reliably kosher meat were sold in
Williamsburg, to give an absurd example, you'd have to go there.  Not
because the atmosphere in Williamsburg makes it more kosher, but for the
Willie Sutton principle

From: Barak Greenfield <DocBJG@...>

<<The problem, rather, lies with us. We either engage in a continual
 game of religious keeping-up-with-the-Schwartz's >>

        I don't.  Do you?  Does anyone you know?  This is a much
repeated but very silly observation IMHO.

<<The hechsher companies exist to provide us with information on the
 ingredients and processing methods of food products--not to be our
 poskim. >>

        NOT.  There is not enough room on any food package for the
information you're looking for.  The vast majority of kosher consumers
are looking for that little OU or OK or Star K or Chof K or whatever.
That little symbol, sir, is a psak.  It says I have investigated the
circumstances under which this product is manufactured and, according to
the standards I (or my agency) employs, it is kosher.  If you want to
know what halachic standards they use, ask them; most people couldn't
care less;

<< Most people are interested in whether a product meets their standards
 of kashrus--not those of the hechsher company's rav in charge>>

        Most people wouldn't know a standard of kashrus from a mi
sheberach.  Is it kosher or is it ain't and don't bother me with the


From: Nadine Bonner <nfbonner@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 11:31:32 -0400
Subject: Canned Peas

With each new post, I find David Riceman's hostility to the kashrut
organizations more puzzling. Neither the OU or any other kashrut
organization can force him to eat products with their hechshar or any
other hechshar. To my knowledge, the OU has never published any material
that said "Eat our hechshar or be treif." What the OU symbol says to the
consumer is that the product in the package has been supervised by a
reliable meshkiach and is kosher by the OU standards, which may or may
not be the consumer's standards. People who hold Chalav Yisrael, for
example, would not eat Oreo cookies because they are OU-dairy. I don't
see why their responsblity should go further than that or why anyone
would expect it to. The OU never publishes ads condemning products
unless they bear an unauthorized OU, in which case they have a right and
an obligation to protect their reputation.

Why do we need the OU or the CRC or the OK to supervise things that were
considered kosher without hashgacha 20 years ago? One reason is that the
ingredients of modern production are more complex. Another reason is
that factories now run kosher and non-kosher products on the same
equipment -- such as grape juice and apple juice -- and there is a
chance they may mix.  Which is the reason I now only use apple juice
with reliable hashgacha. Even the infamous canned peas could be run on
the same equipment as canned pork and beans.

When I was growing up, it was accepted that if a product package claimed
it only used vegetable shorthening, it could be considered kosher if all
the other ingredient were not treif. We later learned that the FDA
allowed companies to include up to 1 percent of meat fat in products and
still claim it used 100 percent vegetable shortening. That percentage
may work for the FDA, but not the kosher consumer. Which is why we need
a reliable supervisor to acertain that a product contains what it claims
to contain.

Many of my friends work as kashrut supervisors for different certifying
organizations. They are diligent and careful men. They also support
large families and pay large day school tuition bills. I don't know why
anyone would begrudge them a living, which comes in the form of a salary
from the kashrut organizations they work for. I've never seen anyone get
rich by certifying kashrut.

Yes, abuses do occur in the kashrut business. But they are the
exceptions, not the rule. These organizations are run by people, not
robots, so that is inevitable. But I certainly appreciate knowing that
if a product bears the OU or OK or StarK symbol, it will meet my
family's standards of kashrut.  Still, in the United States of Amerca,
anyone can eat what they wish, and the OU is not going to come after you
for eating food without hashgacha.

From: Beth and David Cohen <bdcohen@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 14:11:14 -0400
Subject: Canned Peas

I am somewhat perturbed by the recent trashing of kashrut agencies on
this list.  Now, I am far from being a machmir in may areas of
halacha. And my ( or any one else's) personal predilictions are totally
besides the point. A reputable kashrut agency has a Posek (decisor) who
rules on what standards of kashrut the halacha demands. You can easily
find out what these standards are. If you're personal posek disagrees
and thinks that the standards are unneccesarily strict, then you follow
what your Rav says. If he says that you can eat canned peas, then go
ahead. The kashrut agency is not telling you that you can't. All they
are saying is that we have checked the manufacturing process of this
product and you can rely on the fact that it meets our standards of
kashrut. Nowhere do they say if it doesn't have our (or someone else's)
certification it's not kosher. What they do say, is, that unless you (or
your Rav) actually go to the plant and look, what aidus (proof) are you
relying on? Are you relying on anecdotal evidence that may be years out
of date? maybe not, but maybe so? Is that the way we should practice
kashrut?  I believe that these recent posts show a lack of hakarot hatov
to these agencies and the hard working mashgichim who make it possible
for us to consume thousands of varied products that a few generations
ago were only dreamed about.  David I. Cohen

From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 10:18:18 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Re: Canned Peas

In V34 #59 Barak Greenfield writes:

> The hechsher companies exist to provide us with information on the
> ingredients and processing methods of food products--not to be our
> poskim.  Most people are interested in whether a product meets their
> standards of kashrus--not those of the hechsher company's rav in charge.

The issue is economic, as well as halachic.  First, it is difficult to
propagate complex information.  A hechsher is a very simple go/no-go
switch.  No manufacturer wants to clutter his label with a list of
chumras met and kulos relied upon.

I suppose that a hechsher company could put up a website with such
information for each product, with news reflecting any changes for each
product.  The extra work and cost in doing so is not the biggest
obstacle.  The main problem is that the certification's value to the
manufacturer depends upon the number of Jews who will accept it.

Some people simply prefer a certification they can rely upon without
comparing its halachic basis with their own position.  (Let's not call
them lazy -- let's say they prefer to use the time and effort to learn
more Torah or to say another psalm.)

If some Jews reject a product because they don't like the kulos taken,
or the churos ignored, and others reject it because they prefer a
hechsher that doesn't require them to think, then the hechsher brings
less business to the manufacturer, and hence, less of a motive to pay
for the supervision.  Kosher supervision isn't free.

I had long been perplexed by the widespread advice not to rely upon a
certain hechsher, with no reason provided.  I assumed the hechsher
relied upon kulos not widely accepted, and wanted to know the details so
I could decide for myself whether the product met my personal standard.

Finally, a rabbi who is a close friend told me a story.  He said that
after the O-U spent a great deal of time and effort convincing gentile
manufacturers that getting kosher certification made good business
sense, a competing organization took their client list and offered each
client a certification at half the price (made possible by making their
surprise inspections half as frequent).

Should we accept this as merely the free market at work?  If kashrut
organizations engaged in a bidding war to see who could rely on the
least amount of rabbic time invested, hechshurim in general would become
unreliable.  On the other hand, if we allow the O-U's business to be
taken by a firm that puts little effort into cultivating its own new
customers, but merely takes the "low-hanging fruit" identified by
others, then ultimately few products will be certified.

Thus, it is in our collective self-interest to prefer products certified
by the agency that invests in increasing the number of certified
products.  If that's politics, so be it.

> If the public made it know that they are not interested in newfangled
> chumros, or in the companies that disseminate them, we would not have
> this problem. But if we all tacitly acquiesce in perpetual machmirization,
> the trend will continue.  Barak

I agree.  But there is little point in complaining about what other
people do.  It is for us who feel this way to have enough character to
resist the frummer-than-thou peer pressure and make it known that there
is a market, however small, for reliable supervision of products that do
not necessarily meet every chumra.  Should it turn out that provision of
such a hechsher is uneconomic, well, that's life.

Frank Silbermann
New Orleans, Louisiana


From: Michael and Abby Pitkowsky <pitab@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 23:19:50 +0200
Subject: Food Labeling

At the following website one can find all of the US Federal regulations
regarding food labeling.




From: Boruch Merzel <BoJoM@...>
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 10:09:10 EDT
Subject: Re: Rennet

Kosher Renet, under very reliable hashgacha, had been produced for many
years in the USA. and used extensively in domestic production of

The Paul Lewish plant in the mid-west that produced this rennet, to my
knowledge, is no longer in business.  However, for many years a Kosher
rennet produced in Israel has been imported and used in the production
of Kosher cheeses.  Since the cheese itself has a proper hecsher, than
one must assume that that the rennet (usually the only ingredient that
can be treif) is certifiably kosher.  

Boruch Merzel


End of Volume 34 Issue 62