Community Kashrus
Greater Philadelphia

The Keystone K

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Kashrus Updates & Alerts

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Wines, Beers, and other “Hard” Drinks

March 23, 2017

One of the especially satisfying aspects of my Kashrus work is seeing how the major Kashrus agencies pool their resources and expertise to serve the Kosher consumer.  The major Kashrus agencies belong to AKO, which is an umbrella Kashrus organization.  AKO promotes Kashrus by facilitating the cooperation of the major agencies and supporting the work of the Community Agencies.  Keystone-K is a member of AKO and I personally appreciate the work that they and their constituent agencies do for Klal Yisroel.  The following link will allow you to download and print the CRC list of the Kosher Status of “Hard” drinks.  It is the combined effort and expertise of many agencies that made this comprehensive list a reality.  We hope that you will find it helpful.  As always specific questions should be directed to your rabbi..

Pesach Information

March 5, 2017

1-  Many stores carry products with kitniyos (“legumes”) or egg matzah.  Please check ingredients and follow your custom.  These items are a great convenience for the days before Pesach, as you can give them to your children to eat and you don’t have to worry about them leaving the crumbs around the house.  Even those people who do not eat kitniyos / egg matza on Pesach do not need to sell these products before Pesach.

2- It is advisable to double check that items which you find in the Passover section are actually kosher for Pesach.  Sometimes clerks or customers return similar looking items to the wrong shelf.

3- Check the certification even on familiar products.  Some products are certified by a different agency for Pesach than during the rest of the year.

4- Many Products are sold in the same packaging as they are the rest of the year.  The only difference is the Passover symbol.  Check symbols carefully.

5- Some companies change ingredients just for Pesach, such as leaving out the peas from a soup mix for Pesach – without changing the ingredient listing.   I believe that this is irresponsible and causes much confusion.  If you are concerned about this I suggest that you use your “consumer power” and complain to the supervising agency.


Fresh Grocer – Monument / Wyncote

February 28, 2017

We would like to extend our appreciation to the Brown Family for establishing a large and diversified Kosher section at their Monument and Wyncote stores.  The Monument store at 4160 Monument Road, Philadelphia, PA will be opening on March 2, 2017.  The Wyncote store at 1000 Easton Rd. Wyncote, PA is open.  It is very beneficial to frequent all of those establishments – both large and small – that make the effort to meet the needs of the kosher consumer.

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Icing on the Cake – Parve/Dairy

February 13, 2017

Please check any icings and frostings which you use to make sure that their Parve status has not changed.  Due to government regulations some frostings are being reformulated and are now classified as Dairy.

Modern Developments and Kashrus Concerns

January 23, 2017

Modern food production is in constant flux in ways that effect Kashrus – some for the better and some for the worse.  A number of developments which have raised Kashrus concerns follow:

Most natural sweetener used in juices and other products is white grape juice (with all of the attendant kashrus concerns).   The Kashrus agencies make sure that only Kosher grape juice is used in products which they certify.

When companies produce powdered milk, they recycle the chemically pure hot water which is produced.  Not only is the water a valued commodity but the fact that it is hot makes it more valuable.  Even though this water is chemically 100% pure and not a concern regarding allergies, it is clearly a component of milk.  Even for people who do use standard milk it is a meat/milk concern.

The same issue of a hot water byproduct applies when manufacturing starch.  The obvious issue here is “Chometz” on Pesach.

Many canning companies are using their canning equipment for non-kosher (meat/fish) products.  For this reason, the Kashrus agencies recommend using only kosher certified canned goods.  This is not a concern in regard to frozen vegetables that contain only kosher ingredients.



Great News – Shoprite on the Blvd. (Northeast Philadelphia)

December 9, 2016

ShopRite’s “Kosher on the Blvd.” at 11000 Roosevelt Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19116 is under the supervision of the Keystone-K when bearing the Keystone-K symbol. The entire bakery is now Pas Yisroel including loose items and is under Keystone-K supervision*. Check signage and labels for Parve, Cholov Yisroel***, and Dairy status. Breads, rolls, and bagels are always Parve. Specialty “cake-breads”** may be Dairy. (Baked items in other areas of the store must be checked for supervision.) Items marked with other supervisions follow the policies of the certifying agency. If there is a question, please ask the Mashgiach for assistance.

  • Items baked on Shabbos or Yom Tov are marked with a plain K.  Those items follow all of our kashrus standards and are Pas Yisroel, but were baked by non-Jews on Shabbos.  A Glow plug heater is used to keep the oven warm for the purpose of Pas Yisroel.
  • We do not certify Dairy breads and rolls.  “Cake-breads” are really types of cake, even if the word “bread” appears in the name of the product.  “Check “cake-breads” to see if they are Parve or Dairy.
  • Please check the sign for “Cholov Yisroel”.

Please make the effort to frequent those establishments that try to meet the needs of the kosher consumer.  It accordance with the importance of Hakaras Hatov (appreciation) it is appropriate to express our appreciation to those establishments that make the effort to meet the needs of the kosher consumer.

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.



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:

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.


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.



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


Have any questions about one of our establishments or general kashrus issues?
Contact our kashrus administrator