In response to the needs of our expanding and flourishing community, the Vaad has launched an innovative and fresh initiative. Today’s kashrus consumers are highly educated, and many individuals have very specific and often varied needs. A one-size-fits-all approach may no longer be the best way for everyone to be able to get what they require. Under the guidance and leadership of the Rabbinic Board, the Vaad is excited to enact a new, breakthrough measure of posting kashrus profiles on the storefronts of each Vaad establishment. These profiles provide many important kashrus details regarding each individual establishment, set forth in a clear and transparent way. The profiles provide an easy way for the discerning kashrus consumer, in consultation with his or her Rav, to make their own individualized choices according to their specific kashrus requirements, all the while relying on the Vaad’s stellar hashgacha to ensure that every detail is properly supervised. Store owners, consumers, and Rabbonim alike have greeted this innovation with enthusiasm, and believe that this will help the Vaad best fulfill its mission to provide for the kashrus needs of our entire community with excellence, providing clarity and transparency, and fostering a spirit of respect and achdus in our diverse 5T/FR community. To be clear, all restaurants certified by the Vaad, no matter how many boxes are checked or left empty, are proudly under the Vaad. Some adhere to some some adhere to none, and some adhere to all. It is really the establishment’s prerogative to decide decide its own standards, and ultimately for the consumer to choose which establishments to patronize. There will not be a grading system, just transparency posted in each store and on the website. Here is the list of explanations behind each of the various kashrus items on the checklist. The explanations are from the OU, OK, Kof-K and our own Vaad personnel
Milk has Cholov Yisroel status when the milking and bottling is done under the supervision of a reliable Jewish person who ensures that the milk is only coming from a kosher animal. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, is of the opinion that that government inspection of dairies is equivalent to a Mashgiach’s supervision, whereby the status of the milk from these dairies is halachically equivalent to that of Cholov Yisroel. Not all Poskim accept the position of Rav Moshe, and only recommend consuming products that are specifically labeled Cholov Yisroel, an indication that the milking and bottling were supervised by a Mashgiach.
Pas Yisroel is a designation that applies to bread or baked goods that are either baked entirely or partially by Jewish hands. Pas Yisroel was a stringency institutedin the times of the Mishnah to prevent assimilation due to the socializing that occurs when breaking bread. This applies to both home baked and commercially baked goods. However, since bread is a food that people depend upon for sustenance, chazal were lenient on non-Jewish commercial baker’s bread. ShulchanOruch (Y.D.112:1,2) brings two opinions: if one may be lenient only when pas Yisroel is not available or if one can rely on the leniency even if pas Yisroel is readily available.
Chodosh is the term used for the new crop of grain that took root after the 16th of Nissan and was harvested before the following Pesach. The new crop becomes permitted in Eretz Yisrael immediately on the morning of the 17th of Nissan, and outside of Eretz Yisrael it becomes permitted immediately on the morning of the 18th of Nissan. At this point it is now considered Yoshon. Only the “Five Grains” (wheat, barley, oats, spelt, rye) are included in this. There are several machlokos HaPoskim in this issur, leading to a widespread leniency in this prohibition:
Chazal forbade consumption of food that is cooked by a gentile (bishul akum), even if the raw product was strictly kosher, lest it lead to intermingling with them. In a tuna factory, the fillets are cooked with hot steam until they are edible. Then, after the tuna is cut and canned it is retorted again inside the cans – a regular cooking process. It follows, that a tuna factory would require a Mashgiach temidi to ensure that cooking processes are initiated by a Jew (bishul yisroel). This is the opinion of many kashrus certifiers.
Others disagree with this approach and argue that canned tuna is exempt from the requirement of bishul yisroel. Halacha states that only food which is “fit for a king’s table” must be cooked by a Jew. While some tuna can be made in a way that is fit to be served at “a king’s table”, they argue that canned tuna is certainly not fit.
There is an additional mitigating factor. The prohibition of bishul akum includes cooking, roasting, frying and baking. It does not include pickling, salting or cold smoking. There is a halachic dispute as to whether hot steaming (kitor) is included in the prohibition. Some are lenient only when steaming is done in an industrial setting. Therefore, it can be argued that even if tuna is considered fit for a king’s table it would still be exempted from the requirement of bishul yisroel because the initial cooking is done through steaming. Based on these arguments, a case is made to alleviate the necessity of requiring a Mashgiach temidi to initiate the cooking processes.
The Rambam’s position is that it is a positive commandment to check each fish before consumption so as to confirm its kosher status. If confirmation of scales is impossible, one may no longer consume the fish, even if the fish is purported to be a kosher species. Skinless fish fillets may be purchased only from an individual who has halachic ne’emonus (integrity) or from a store that is supervised by a reliable kashrus certifier. Based on this principle, Rav Moshe Feinstein writes that a Mashgiach must be present to check every fish that is processed at a manufacturing facility. It follows that a tuna factory would require a Mashgiach temidi (full-time kosher supervisor) to supervise production to ensure that every tuna bears scales before processing can commence.
Others take a more lenient approach to the kosher certification of a tuna factory. They argue that due to the set of circumstances that guide tuna production, it is not necessary to check every tuna for scales. Instead, we may rely on the halachic principle that “no tradesman will willingly jeopardize his livelihood” by misleading someone and giving them something else instead of tuna.
One cannot assume a filleted fish to be kosher. One cannot rely on tevias ayin to identify kosher fish. There is an exception to this rule. Trout and salmon are unique in the color of their flesh, their distinctive pinkish – reddish color can serve as a proper siman, to identify that it is in fact a kosher fish. According to the research; there is no non-kosher fish whose color matches that of salmon or trout.
However, recent developments have raised some concerns. The fisheries were reporting shortages in the quantities of salmon caught yearly. In search for a solution, they created salmon farms, where they farm salmon for consumption. They designed the farms to artificially replicate the natural environment the salmon were raised in. The owners of salmon farms found that the flesh of farmed salmon is noticeably paler than the flesh of “wild” salmon. To enhance their color, the fish are fed a dietary supplement, astaxanthin, an anti-oxidant from the same family as beta-carotene (naturally found in carrots and sweet potatoes).
Seemingly, this did not exactly replicate the color fully, and therefore, there are poskim that still rely on color, and other poskim do not want to rely on color.
Recently, an age-old question resurfaced regarding a very active marine fish parasite that can find its way into many hosts during its active life cycle, including human beings! The parasite in question is a round worm called Anisakis. The anisakis is a parasitic round worm that lives in or off a host fish. The origins of the anisakis are fascinating and tumultuous. Throughout the life cycle of an anisakis, it can literally “worm” its way into many different types of sea creatures and fish. The anisakis can also infect a human through the eating of raw fish that contains an anisakis buried in its flesh (one of the pitfalls of eating sushi, and a real concern of the FDA). Among the kosher fish that can host the anisakis are wild salmon, halibut, sea bass and scrod. Anasakis is a parasite which is found inside the flesh of According to the literal explanation of the Shulchan Aruch, if a parasite that is microscopic in size finds its way into the host’s flesh and begins to grow, the Halacha states that those insects would be permitted based on the principle that it grew from the host. If the nematode was found in the intestine, it would be forbidden because of the concept that “it came from the outside.” This means that if the parasitic worm migrated from the ocean and was visible prior to being swallowed by its first host (i.e. a crustacean such as a krill), and then entered an intermediate host (e.g. halibut or salmon,), then the parasite is forbidden because the worm has previously had the status of “a crawling marine creature.”
Many Poskim in Eretz Yisroel, among others, have all forbidden fish that may possibly contain the presence of the anisakis. They feel that the fish is forbidden min HaTorah, unless it has been checked. Many distinguished poskim (located outside of Eretz Yisroel) maintain that the Shulchan Aruch’s criteria for permitting these types of fish is that as long as the anisakis is generated in the flesh, the fish is permitted. This is because we have the right to assume that it spawned in the flesh of the fish. Therefore, if one has found an anisakis in the flesh of a halibut or salmon, the fish is permissible.
The question as to whether raisins require checking was raised by the Taz Y.D. 84:12. He writes that even when it is common to find infestation in raisins, they do not require checking. The reason provided is because it is uncommon to find infestation in grapes at the time that they are harvested. Infestation that develops occurs primarily in storage. As such, when considering the status of raisins, there is what is known as a sfek sfeikah, a double within a doubt: Insects might not be present in this batch of raisins, and even if they are, they may be permitted if they were never shoretz al ha’aretz, literally “crawl on the ground”. (Infestation that develops on fruits after they are harvested is not forbidden until the insects leave the fruit.) However, if one notices that the raisins in question are infested, they may not be eaten, since there is no longer a double doubt. Some people are makpid, not to rely.
Confectioners glaze, also known as shellac, is a glandular secretion of the lac insect that lives and reproduces on the branches and twigs of its host tree. Millions of these insects ingest tree sap and produce from it a hard resinous secretion that they use to protect their larvae. The secretion, which is called shellac, is harvested from the tees and used in various food and industrial applications. Although the gemara states that kol hayotzei min hatamei tamei, whatever derives from a non-kosher source is not kosher, there is nevertheless a dispute amongst recent poskim whether that rule applies to confectioners glaze. Most notably. Harav Moshe Feinstein held that confectioners glaze was permitted to be consumed, while Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv held that it was prohibited. Confectioners glaze is typically listed as an ingredient in foods that contain it, and is commonly used as a glaze for chocolates, candies and sprinkles. Those individuals who wish to be stringent on consuming confectioners glaze will not eat products that contain the ingredient.
The preparation of wine is something that requires additional scrutiny due to the concern of yayin nesech. Wine is often produced in far flung locales where there are small Jewish communities or no Jewish communities at all. Therefore, kashrus organizations often need to rely on individuals who are not seasoned mashgichim to oversee the preparation and bottling of wines. However, in the United States, most wine is produced in states that have large Jewish communities which allows the kashrus organizations to use their own mashgichim to oversee the preparation and bottling of wines. Therefore those who wish to be particularly careful about yayin nesech will only use wines which are overseen by more qualified mashgichim. Because the OU is one of the most respected kashrus organizations in the world, and in order to create a policy that is easy for stores to follow, only wines produced in the United States under the hashgacha of the OU are permitted under this kashrus hiddur. Note that this kashrus hiddur only applies to wine that is used in the preparation of food, when a consumer cannot see the bottle. For wines that are served in establishments, a consumer can see the bottle and make a decision as to whether the particular hashgacha meets the person’s standards.
Fruit jam is made by pureeing fruit into jam or jelly. The pureeing process differs between jam and jelly such that when the final product is bottled, jelly contains no physical remnants or seeds from the fruit, while jam typically has small pieces or seeds. Because raspberries and strawberries are highly infested with insects, the pieces remaining in the jam could be pieces of insects. Those who are particularly careful about eating pieces of insects will avoid eating strawberry or raspberry jam.
The Shulchan Aruch prohibits eating certain items that are bishul akum (i.e. certain foods made edible through cooking by someone other than an Orthodox Jew). Generally, food items that are made edible through cooking in liquid are subject to this prohibition. However, poskim over the past hundred years have disagreed as to whether food items that are cooked with steam (and not in liquid) fall under the prohibition of bishul akum, or whether steaming is not considered bishul and is therefore is not subject to the bishul akum prohibition. Canned pumpkins and canned and powdered potatoes from non-heimish brands are generally produced by steaming the potatoes or pumpkins so they become edible, and then canning or dehydrating them. Those individuals who wish to be stringent on bishul akum for foods that are made edible through steaming, only eat canned pumpkins and canned and powdered potatoes from a heimish brand.