Passover Question Round-Up

Rabbi Eli Eleff

WHAT DOES OU-P MEAN?

The OU-P symbol means that the OU has certified a product bearing that label as Kosher for Passover. To receive such a certification, an extremely high level of supervision is required including hashgacha temidit (constant supervision), and proper kashering of equipment. Every ingredient used in an OU-P product is scrutinized to make sure that it is 100% chametz and kitnityot free. View a list of OU certified kitniyot products. Companies may print either an OU-P symbol or accompany their existing OU symbol with the words Kosher for Passover on their Passover products.

I PURCHASED AN OU-P PRODUCT WHICH SAYS “MAY CONTAIN WHEAT” OR “PROCESSED IN A FACILITY THAT PRODUCES WHEAT.” HOW CAN THAT POSSIBLY BE KOSHER FOR PASSOVER?

It is common for companies to print disclaimers that a product may contain traces of milk (as well as wheat, peanuts, etc.), even though the label identifies the product as parve or chametz-free. This appears contradictory, but in fact companies provide this information about traces for people with allergies, who often react to parts per million. Trace ingredients may be air-born particles from a different part of the plant, or residue that is left on equipment even after a thorough wash and kashering. Halachically, trace ingredients at infinitesimal levels have no significance, and are most certainly batel beshishim (nullified in sixty parts). A product bearing an OU-P symbol is halachically kosher for Passover, irrespective of trace-ingredient declarations.

DOES BOTTLED WATER NEED TO BE KOSHER FOR PASSOVER? HOW ABOUT SELTZER?

All bottled water and unflavored seltzer are acceptable for Passover, even bottles without kosher certification.

DO MY TOILETRIES NEED TO BE KOSHER FOR PASSOVER?

It is generally accepted that items that are not fit for canine consumption (eino roi l’achilat kelev) do not need special Passover certification. However, with regard to lipstick, mouthwash and toothpaste, there are varied opinions among rabbinic authorities. We recommend seeking guidance from your local Orthodox rabbi.

MY FAVORITE HAND CREAM IS ONE THAT CONTAINS OATMEAL, IS THIS ACCEPTABLE FOR PASSOVER?

Again, if the cream is not fit for canine consumption, the ingredients do not make a difference.

COSTCO IS HAVING A SALE ON FROZEN SALMON. IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?

Due to the frequent application of glazes to raw fish, it should be purchased only with reliable kosher certification. However, Kirkland Frozen Wild Salmon is acceptable after washing it off, while the Kirkland Atlantic (farm-raised) Salmon is acceptable as is for Passover when it bears the OU symbol.

WHAT TYPE OF MEAT CAN I USE ON PASSOVER?

Meat and poultry in their raw state are inherently chametz-free year-round, and should not require any additional extra supervision for Passover. However, contemporary production methods could invalidate the Passover status of any butchered raw meat. Please consult our directories for a listing of approved Passover meats.

ARE BABY FORMULAS A PROBLEM ON PASSOVER?

Most infant formulas contain soy products. Restrictions against kitniyot on Passover don’t apply to infants. However, you must take care to keep bottles, nipples and formula away from the general kitchen area. Any mixing or washing should be done elsewhere, such as in the bathroom sink.

WHAT ABOUT BABY FOOD? ARE THE PLAIN FRUITS OR VEGGIES LIKE PEAS (KITNIYOT) A PROBLEM?

The restriction of kitniyot does not apply to children or the infirm when there is a need. However, most prepared baby food can be problematic as it may utilize chametz preservatives and ingredients. Even 100% vegetable and fruit baby food may be produced on chametz equipment.

CAN I FEED MY INFANT RICE CEREAL? AFTER ALL IT IS ONLY KITNIYOT.

There is possible chametz in most baby rice cereals, so the OU can’t recommend them for Passover use. However, there is no problem owning rice and making your own cereal from non-enriched rice or domestic rice over Passover. As with all kitniyot, separate pots should be used.

I AM A STARBUCKS ADDICT. CAN I PATRONIZE THEM ON PASSOVER?

Unfortunately, we cannot recommend this.

WHAT MEDICATIONS MAY BE TAKEN ON PASSOVER?

See Guidelines for Medicines.

CAN I BUY LACTAID ON PASSOVER?

Lactaid tablet production is likely to involve chametz. This renders chewable Lactaid tablets problematic.However, Lactaid milk is permissible if purchased before Passover since any chametz contained within Lactaid milk would be nullified (batel) before Passover.

IS PLAIN MILK ACCEPTABLE FOR PASSOVER CONSUMPTION? I HEARD SOMETHING ABOUT NOT BUYING IT DURING CHOL HAMOED.

Milk contains added vitamins that contain a slight chametz risk. Therefore, it is best to purchase milk before Passover at which time chametz will be nullified.

IS SOY/ALMOND MILK ACCEPTABLE FOR PASSOVER?

Soy and almond milk can be problematic and are not recommended for Passover. In the situation that it might be needed by the young or infirm, please refer to page 92 for a list of acceptable soy and almond milks.

FIDO IS A VERY FINICKY PUPPY. MAY I SERVE HIM HIS FAVORITE GOURMET PUPPY CHOW?

Since it is forbidden to own or benefit from chametz during Passover, food that contains chametz may not be fed to pets. However, it is permitted to give pets food that contains kitniyot.

I HEARD THAT GROUND SPICES NEED SPECIAL PASSOVER CERTIFICATION. WHY IS THIS?

Ground spices need special Passover supervision as they are commonly processed on equipment that contains chametz. Additionally, they may be adulterated with kitniyot or chametz.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH EGG MATZAH?

According to the Shulchan Aruch, dough made from flour mixed with fruit juices or eggs will not become chametz no matter how long it stands, provided no water is added. However, Ashkenazic custom is that egg matzot may only be used by the elderly and the infirm. Furthermore, all the precautions associated with ordinary Passover matzot apply to egg matzot. The egg matza must be baked thin, in specially-heated ovens for less than eighteen minutes and must be carefully guarded from becoming chametz during production.

WHEN AND WHERE CAN WE BUY CHAMETZ AFTER PASSOVER? IS THERE A PROBLEM IF A SUPERMARKET IS JEWISH-OWNED?

Stores and distributors that are Jewish-owned must cease the purchase and sale of chametz products on Passover. Those who do not do so, and also do not have a valid mechirat chametz (sale of chametz), render their products as forbidden. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l wrote that it is permissible to purchase chametz from a supermarket at the point in time when there is a 50-percent possibility that the supermarket purchased the chametz after Passover. Since chametz she’avar alav haPesach (leavened products that were left over Passover) is a rabbinic injunction, one can rely on a principle known as safek derabbanan lekula.

However, the real question is when can one legitimately say there is a 50-percent chance that the chametz on the supermarket shelf was purchased by the store after the conclusion of Passover? It is difficult to give a precise cut-off date. Communal rabbis generally tell their congregants when they feel comfortable purchasing chametz, and our impression is that Lag B’Omer, twenty-five days after the conclusion of Passover, is a safe time.

CAN SOMEONE WITH CELIAC DISEASE FULFILL THE MITZVAH OF EATING MATZA?

Yes! Thanks to greater awareness of these issues, gluten-free matza is now available. Lakewood Matzoh Bakery has both hand and machine matza shmurah, baked under GFCO (Gluten Free Certification Organization) supervision. This matza is not OU-certified.

As always, if the performance of a mitzva such as eating matza at the Seder would cause a life-threatening allergic reaction, clearly the mitzva should not be performed. If the allergic reaction, while severe, would not be life-threatening, ask your rabbi.

To order gluten free matza, contact: Lakewood Matzoh Bakery, 501 Prospect Street, Unit 104B, Lakewood, NJ 08701. Tel: 732.364.8757. Fax: 732.364.4250. email: sales@lakewoodmatzoh.com. Website: http://www.lakewoodmatzoh.com.