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Kashrus Updates & Alerts

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Kashrus Alerts – December 2016

December 1, 2016

One of the most common labelling errors is printing the Kashrus symbol without the Dairy designation.  If you have any reason to be suspicious regarding a product please check the ingredients for milk, butter, whey, casein, and lactose.  There is no need for concern about Parve items that contain lactic acid.,

 

The following products are NOT O/U certified. Some labels  were mistakenly printed with an unauthorized O/U symbol…

Supremo Italiano Mozzarella Cheese (at Restaurant Depot and Jetro)

Kroger brand canned Chopped Collared Greens and Canned Chopped turnip Greens

Hannaford Frozen Spinach

Lazzaroni Amaretti Cookie Snaps

Monarch Canned Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup (contains carmine)

Vienna brand of Hot and Mild Giardiniera, Sport Peppers and Chicago Relish

The following is certified kosher only when bearing the O/U symbol Costco Tilapia Loins currently do not bear an O/U on some packages.  The O/U certifies only those packages that do bear the O/U symbol printed on the label.

 

Terminated by the O/U Due to Kashrus violations, the O/U and Rabbi Badad have immediately terminated the certification of all products of Fromage Gourmet/CheesePro Products.  These products should NOT be used, even when bearing the O/U and Rabbi Badad’s logos and should be returned for a refund

 

UMK – Ferrara candies (Lemonheads, Red Hots, Atomic Fireball etc.) that do not bear the UMK (United Mehadrin Kosher) symbol are now manufactured at a non-supervised plant and are NOT acceptable. Each package should be checked for UMK symbol.

 

Unauthorized O/K certification.

Prince Tahini products from Israel bear an unauthorized O/K symbol on their packaging.  The company website also displays an unauthorized O/K Passover symbol.  These products are NOT certified by the O/K organization.

 

Unauthorized STAR/K certification.

Terra Delyssa Organic Infused Olive Oils, manufactured in Tunisia, bear an unauthorized Star-K P symbol.  These oils are NOT Star-K certified and are NOT Kosher for Pesach.

Glatt Kosher – Consumer Alert

November 21, 2016

Please be careful to verify that any product (that needs certification) is certified by an agency which you trust. Unfortunately, unscrupulous vendors have been selling products – including meat – with subpar supervisions imitating the markings of reputable Kashrus agencies. These vendors change the symbols enough so that they don’t run afoul of the law, but nevertheless attempt to mislead the consumer. For example, non-glatt meat is being sold at Wegmans and Costco.  This meat sports a certification which looks similar to a reputable Israeli certification, even though the meat is under a different (non-Glatt) supervision.   Please make sure to carefully check any product to make sure that it is up to your standards.

Why Glatt?

Most people have heard criticism of “Glatt”, jokes about “Glatt” vegetables, and questions about what “Glatt” is.  We will try to answer your questions as well as share some interesting historical facts about Jewish life in America.

Glatt Kosher – What is it?

The meat of an animal which has a puncture in its lungs is rendered “treif” – unkosher.  The puncture may be due to an injury, disease, diet, or any other cause.  Being that a hole in an animal’s lung is rather common the rabbis instructed us to check lungs for such holes.   Many animals have lung adhesions which attach the lung to the chest wall or other areas in the chest cavity.  An adhesion may indicate that there is a hole in the lung, but often there is no puncture at all.   Some of these adhesions can be peeled from the chest cavity with ease, while some are very challenging to separate.

According to the opinion of the Bais Yosef, followed by Sefardic Jews, the lungs must be free of adhesions, as well as holes.  According to the Rama, whose rulings are generally followed by Ashkenazic Jews, the adhesion may be peeled and checked for the presence of a puncture.  The lung is inflated and placed in water; the presence of escaping bubbles indicates that there is a hole and the animal is treif.  If there are no bubbles the animal is considered “non-Glatt, Kosher”.  Until the 1950’s almost all Askenazic Jews ate meat that was reliably certified kosher but “non-Glatt”.  Only extremely pious individuals observed “Glatt”.   In addition to the issue with the lungs other uncommon ailments would also render an animal as “non-Glatt”.

History of Kosher in America

For the most part there were few Yeshiva-trained Rabbonim with “semicha” in America until the influx of European Jewry in the 1940’s.  While there were a few extraordinary “talmidei chachomim” (Torah scholars) even in some small towns, most American religious functionaries had very little training.  Those who were honest called themselves “Reverend” as they did not have either “semicha” or much Torah knowledge.  Some of the “Reverends”  fought valiantly to uphold “halocha” to the best of their ability, some were well intentioned, and some were mere charlatans.  Upton Sinclaire in his classic, “The Jungle”, describes the corruption in the Chicago meat packing industry in the early 1900’s.  He describes one of these Reverends stamping random sides of non-kosher meat with his Kosher stamp.  Shamefully his description of all forms of corruption in the meat packing industry was accurate.  His book so shocked the nation that the United States government enacted a number of laws to protect both consumers and workers.

As American Orthodoxy was maturing during the 40’s and 50’s a number of Rabbonim tried valiantly to put an end to the abuses of Halocha.  The meatpacking industry was controlled by the Teamsters’ union, which was riddled with unbridled corruption.  The union bosses decided who was qualified to “shecht”, and the union officials refused to accept direction from the Rabbonim.  A car accident was “arranged” for one of the leading Rabbonim, and a Philadelphia Rav was threatened with having the butcher knives used on him.   Some leading rabbonim advanced observing “Glatt” as a way of avoiding the sub-standard meat purveyors.  More and more of the leading Rabbonim from across the spectrum decided to promote “Glatt” to accomplish their goals without running afoul of the union goons.   As organized crime was involved the rabbonim had to make the changes quietly.  Very few people knew why the major Rabbonim began to call for their Kehilos (congregations) to observe Glatt.  The major Kashrus agencies also made the changeover to Glatt.  Before long most of the Orthodox community made the changeover to Glatt, though without knowing what was behind the change.  The criminal union officials were not overly concerned as the “shochtim” and “mashgichim” who were their members who were not accepted by the rabbonim could still get jobs in the sub-standard kosher market.

There were reputable Rabbonim who still accepted “standard kosher” meat if they knew that all of the people involved were observant Jews who were free of corruption.  My father was a “shochet” and his foster-father was a butcher.  I remember that in the 50’s my father would either use “Glatt” meat or standard-kosher meat if it was from a small slaughterhouse where he and his foster-father knew that everyone involved was 100% trustworthy.

Glatt Kosher in America – Twenty-first century

The percentage of animals that are truly Glatt varies greatly by specie and locale.   Animals that are the highest level of Glatt – no lung adhesions whatsoever – are much more common in Eretz Yisroel than in the USA, and even slightly more common in South America than in Eretz Yisroel.  Being that it would be prohibitively expensive to limit Glatt meat to only animals that are 100% free of adhesions a logical system was put in place:

An animal that has no adhesions or very minor adhesions and do not conceal a puncture – are classified as “Bais Yosef Glatt”.  This meat is accepted by both Sefardim and Ashkenazim.

An animal that has what is viewed as a minor adhesion is classified as “Glatt”.  This is fine for Ashkenazim.  Sefardim should ask their Rav for guidance regarding eating this class of meat.

An animal with a significant adhesion that was proven by the bubble test not to be masking a puncture is classified as “non-Glatt Kosher”.  It would be permissible for Ashkenazim to eat this meat if they know that everyone involved in producing the meat is 100% reliable.  Currently, most reputable kashrus agencies do not permit non-Glatt meat.

Glatt veal, mutton, chicken, and vegetables –

Due to the thin walls of the membranes of the smaller animals air bubble test is not valid for them.  For that reason, they must always be Glatt.   When using the term “Glatt” for these items it is merely signifying that the people who “shecht” and supervise the animals are certified as reliable by the major kashrus agencies.  There is a certain lung ailment that effects some chickens in Eretz Yisroel (Newhouse Disease).  Some people use the term Glatt in Eretz Yisroel to signify that the chickens were checked for this ailment.  Many people feel that using the term “Glatt” for fish, fruits’ and vegetables is an abuse of Kashrus by the marketplace.

Chassidic Shechita –

While people who strictly follow a “Chassidus” might choose to rely on people who follow their “Minhogim” (customs), there isn’t anything more kosher about Chassidic Shechita.  The term “Chassidic Shechita” simply means that the Shochet follows those Minhogim that are important in his community.

From the City of Brotherly Love –

Some Ashkenazim are adopting the practice of only using Bais Yosef Glatt.  I think that while well-intentioned this is not a good idea.  The supply of Bais Yosef Glatt is very limited.  If all Ashkenazim adopt the practice of using Bais Yosef Glatt it will cause a shortage which will raise the price exorbitantly.  Unless you have Sefardic guests it is better to use regular Glatt so that there will be a sufficient supply of Bais Yosef Glatt for our Sefardic brothers.

Tomer Meat at Costco / Water Urns and Pump Pots

November 14, 2016

As a member of the Association of Kashrus Organizations we share pertinent alerts from our fellow AKO members.

 

Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit

KASHRUS ALERT

Costco has introduced a new line of meat from Tomer Kosher Foods which is certified by Triangle K and Rabbi Elimelech Lebowitz. Please note that this meat is non-glatt and is not recommended. (Although Rabbi Lebowitz’s symbol resembles that of Rabbis Kook and Rubin of Israel, there is no relationship.)  This meat is also being sold in Wegman’s.   For an in depth explanation of “Glatt” in the USA, please see our Divrei Torah/Halocha sections.

 

Chicago Rabbinical Council

Water Urns and Pump Pots

In Important AlertsNewsletter Items by Yisroel Pollock October 19, 2016

Water Urns and Pump Pots
The cRc is in the process of researching whether one may add cold water to hot water urns and pump pots on Yom Tov. A number of these devices claim that it is permitted to add water, and thus far, our testing has shown that – in certain devices – this claim is not accurate. We recommend that cold water should not be added to any urn or pump pot on Yom Tov, absent a contrary ruling from one’s local Halachic Authority.

 

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Great News! Wricley Nut Products

August 12, 2016

We are pleased to announce that Wricley Nut Products at 480 Pattison Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19148 is now a 100% kosher production facility.  All products which bear our seal are Kosher. If they are marked with the word Dairy or a D they are Dairy Cholov Stam.   All Parve products are prepared on a dedicated separate Parve line.

Something’s Fishy / Snake-oil Salesmen

August 8, 2016

One of the major modern challenges in the field of Kashrus is that the business world has become more sophisticated and has developed hard to detect means of deception.  While the Kashrus agencies make use of modern technology in the observance of Kashrus, unscrupulous manufacturers make use of modern technology to increase their profits through deceptive business practices.

 

The FDA has done DNA testing on numerous fish samples and has found that specie substitution is rampant.  Larry Olmsted wrote a book “Real Food Fake Food,” and CBS 60 Minutes, the WSJ, and Consumer Reports Magazine have recently publicized these practices.  94% of red snapper is not really red snapper.  Tile fish (high mercury) and tilapia are often substituted for red snapper.  Approximately 1/3 of fish which is sold is mislabeled.  Substitution is prevalent in restaurants, as each time the fish is transferred to a new owner another opportunity for deception arises.  Approximately 95% of fish in the USA is imported, and as is well known many foreign countries turn a “blind eye” to deceptive business practices.  In the past many kashrus agencies relied on color to identify salmon.  The major agencies discovered that the companies were adding coloring to the flesh in order to make other types of fish appear to be salmon.  The major agencies now require inspecting each salmon for scales.

 

To combat the deception our mashgichim check each fish for scales.  We require that a sizable skin tag be left on each fish so that it can be inspected for scales.  The mashgichim must check the skin tags for any anomaly because unscrupulous sellers have even tried attaching skin tags from one fish onto another.  Experienced mashgichim can detect such fraud with ease.

 

At one time many kosher consumers would purchase extra-virgin olive oil without a supervision.  Sadly, a large portion of the extra-virgin olive oil on the market is made by adding chlorophyll and flavoring to inexpenive types of oil.  Pure honey is often adulterated with corn-syrup.  American business people have a higher standard of ethics than business owners in many foreign countries, and American government agencies are more vigilant than most.  Therefore, imports from other countries are at an even greater risk of adulteration than products manufactured in the USA.  

 

The major Kashrus agencies employ experts with business experience and scientific expertise in order to keep current with industry developments.  Through AKO (Association of Kashrus Organizations), of which Keystone-K is a member, the Kashrus agencies pool their expertise and cooperate with one another for the sake of the Kosher consumer.

 

Starbucks

The following are recommended (but not under our supervision) at any Starbucks:  Americano [with paper cup, without “shot” glass], bottled Starbucks drinks with “KD”, Expresso [with paper cup, without “shot” glass], and tea with hechsher [paper cup].  Rav Heinemann of the Star-K researched Starbucks.   Keystone-K disseminates information based upon our own research and that of the national kashrus agencies.  It is not the position of the Keystone-K to usurp the position of your rabbi and poseik.  The results of the research and the reasoning behind it may be viewed at:

http://www.star-k.org/articles/kosher-lists/1709/starbucks/

http://www.star-k.org/articles/kashrus-kurrents/kashurs-kurrents-2011/summer-kashrus-kurrents-2011/601/dont-drink-the-coffee/

Some people make the mistake of assuming that everything in an establishment is kosher if they see observant people in the establishment.  Starbucks is a clear example of the error of this assumption.  While some items are acceptable, others are not.

Important Announcements and Alerts

July 20, 2016

Leo Tai of Sushi Talk Asian Catering at 7588 Haverford Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19151 informed us that he will not continue as a kosher establishment as of August 1, 2016.  Leo Tai will be available as a Kosher Sushi Chef with a mashgiach temidi beginning August 1, 2016.   His work as a kosher sushi chef is the responsibility of each certifying agency, not the Keystone-K.  

 

The brand new Fresh Grocer in Wyncote has established a large kosher section under our supervision.  You can view their information on our web-site under establishments.

 

H & E Cohen Catering is now under Keystone-K supervision.  You can view their information on our web-site under establishments.

 

At this time a large percentage of carrots come from Eretz Yisroel (for example – Restaurant Depot).  Please follow the procedure we posted on our web-site for removing the teruma and maser.

 

From The O/K: Great Value Broccoli & Cauliflower

Great Value Steam-able Broccoli & Cauliflower Great Value Cut Broccoli Great Value Steamable Broccoli Cuts Great Value – manufactured in Mexico and being sold in Wal-Mart stores, bear an unauthorized O/K symbol:

 

Star-K: Nature’s Kitchen/East Coast Fresh Carrots from Israel

Please be advised that packages of carrots and products containing fresh carrots with a sell-date of July 17 or earlier, bear an unauthorized Star K.  These products require that Trumos and Maasros be taken.  Instruction of how to do so are available on the Keystone-K web-site.

Slurpees

June 16, 2016

According to the joint research of the major Kashrus agencies all Slurpees are kosher and Parve except the following:

 

Barq’s Brand:  Caffeine-Free Root Beer (kosher only when bearing O/U)

The following flavors are kosher – Dairy

Fanta :  Banana Split and Pina Colada are both dairy, Cholov Stam)


Jolly Rancher:  (Note:  All Flavors are Dairy, Cholov Stam)

Yo Cream:  (Note: all flavors are Dairy, Cholov Stam)

Pepsi   (Note:  Diet Pepsi is dairy, Cholov Stam – Diet Pepsi Soda is Parve)

 

The following Slurpee flavors are NOT Kosher:

Horchata Ole – Not Kosher

Orange Barq Smoothie – Not Kosher

Strawberry Twizzler – Not Kosher

Monster Black – Not Kosher

Tropicana Grape Wild Strawberry – Not Kosher

Great News! Wynnewood Giant – Two Kosher Bakeries!

May 18, 2016

Giant Wynnewood has opened a second kosher bakery.  One is Pas Yisroel-Pareve and one is Pas Yisroel-Dairy.  Everything baked at Giant Wynnewood is Pas Yisroel and supervised by the Keystone-K.  High Pas Yisroel standards are in place.  All bread, rolls, bagels, and Challah bread are Pareve.  All other products should be considered Dairy unless the label states Pareve.   Management is working on adding to the Pareve selection of cakes and cookies.  Strawberries will be cleaned in accordance with the Keystone-K policies. 

Please check for our symbol on the baked goods.  If a product baked in the bakery is marked with a plain K that means that it meets our kashrus standards, but it was baked by non-Jews on Shabbos.  Baked goods bearing the symbols of other Kashrus agencies follow the standards of those agencies. 

Infestation Alert from the COR (Toronto)

April 26, 2016

Infestation Alert from the COR (Toronto)

Lieber’s crushed tomatoes for Pesach should be checked for small white worms.  As of this time it is not known if they have been found in the UISA as well.

Orla ערלה – The first Three Years

April 22, 2016

The fruit of a tree or fruit bush may not be eaten during the first three years of its growth.  Not only is it prohibited to eat the fruit but no benefit whatsoever may be derived from the fruit.  This halocha applies both in Eretz Yisroel and in חו”ל (outside of Eretz Yisroel).  There is one major difference between Eretz Yisroel and  חו”ל (outside of Eretz Yisroel) – in Eretz Yisroel we must determine that the fruit is not “Orla” before eating it, while in  חו”ל (outside of Eretz Yisroel) we may go after the majority of fruit which grew after the first three years.  If you pick your own fruit you must ascertain that the tree has been growing for at least three years even outside of Eretz Yisroel.

If a tree is replanted without a ball of earth around the roots (bare roots) the three years must be counted over again.  This is how most commercial orchards plant trees.  A nursery plants the saplings and when they reach the desired size they are chilled so that they go into dormancy.  The young tree is shipped bare rooted as it is much less expensive to ship it without a ball of earth around the roots.  This means that in most cases the three years need to be counted from the replanting, not the original planting.

Even the non-observant farmers find it difficult to find customers for their orla produce in Eretz Yisroel.  That means that most of the orla produce (as well as other forbidden produce) is exported.  We need to be aware of this when shopping for produce.  It is a privilege and a mitzvah to purchase Israeli produce, however, only with a reliable supervision.  It is very common to find unsupervised Israeli produce in the American market which is 100% forbidden.  Grapefruit sections are one extremely common Israeli product which absolutely must carry a reliable supervision.  If one purchased or picked orla in error it must go to waste.  It is not permissible to derive any benefit from orla.

The produce of the fourth year is called “revai”.  It is sanctified and must be eaten in Yerushalyim.  It is possible to transfer the sanctity onto coins, as is done with מעשר שני (The Second Tithe).  May Moshiach come soon and may we fulfill all of the מצוות (precepts) attached to the Land of Israel, thereby meriting the Land’s Blessings in full.

 

Snapple and Other Soft Drinks

November 24, 2015

Most Snapple drinks are supervised by the OK.  Please check for the supervision as not all types are supervised – such as cranberry raspberry .

Many soft drinks have white grape juice added as a natural sweetener, and some processing equipment in  bottling plants is used for heating unkosher ingredients.  It is important to check that drinks have proper supervision.  We supervise the entire local Pepsi plant and all of their products.

You may check the Star-K website for a comprehensive list of soft drinks as well as alcoholic beverages.  The major kashrus agencies have embarked on an analysis of alcoholic beverages with the goal of expanding on the list of permitted drinks.

Cholov Yisroel / Pas Yisroel

July 2, 2015

Please note: The teudos (certificates of certification) state if an establishment is “Cholov Yisroel” and/or “Pas Yisroel”.  This can be viewed on the certificate displayed in the establishment as well as on the online certificate.

Torah/Halacha

DIY Teruma and Maaser in 4 Easy Steps

DIY Teruma and Maaser in 4 Easy Steps As it is a Mitzva to eat the produce of Eretz Yisroel, and supporting the economy is a mitzvah as well, we encourage our members to follow the procedures below so that they can purchase Israeli vegetables without concern. Research has determined that a significant percentage of Israeli fruit … Continued

The White Knight and Kashrus

One of the counterintuitive ordinances of the “metzora” (“leper”) is that one who is afflicted from head to toe, completely white, is considered pure, while on the day that a small amount of normal flesh is found on his body he becomes impure.   Is it possible for us to find any message in this curious … Continued

Brussel Sprouts / Asparagus and other vegetables

A number of Mashgichim experimented with Brussel Sprouts and asparagus for a year.  They found that wherever they grew and at whichever season Brussel Sprouts were highly infested.  Only Brussel Sprouts grown in an insect free environment should be used.   On the other hand, white asparagus are very clean and may be used without checking.  … Continued

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