We are often confronted with a myriad of ingredients and products grouped loosely under the “Dairy” category. The purpose of this discussion is to clarify what those products are and their Halachic status.
As long as humanity has sought sustenance, there has been fish to provide it. Whether for an informal lunch or an elaborate dinner, it is inconceivable that a menu would not include fish. However, not all types of fish may be enjoyed by the kosher consumer. Many varieties of fish are prohibited medoraisa. Moreover, there are numerous issues regarding the processing of fish that could impact the kosher consumer.
There is a German expression Alles iz in butter” (Literally: Everything is in butter.) This phrase means that everything is fine and in order. Historically, butter was a product that was viewed as being kosher without any serious issues. Generally, all aspects concerning the ingredients and manufacturing process were considered to be acceptable. Butter was generally produced by churning cream so that the butterfat flocculated (clumped together) to form butter; the byproduct from this process being buttermilk. No other additives were used. In fact, in halacha, there are many shitos that do not consider butter to be subject to the restrictions of chalav akum as long as there is no residual milk fluid in the butter (see Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 115:7 and Shach ad loc.). Even today, based on these shitos, many people who are careful to use cholov Yisroel products exclusively are lenient with butter. Some kosher consumers purchase higher grades of butter even without any kosher certification. Are these practices advisable in light of the many changes, both in terms of ingredients and manufacturing techniques, that have occurred in standard butter production? How do these changes affect the kosher of butter? Do the traditionally lenient approaches to the kashrus of butter still apply? From the standpoint of kosher, can we still say about butter, “Alles iz in butter”?
The pickle industry, or should I say, the gherkin industry, is a thriving concern pleasing the palates of millions world-wide. Whether it is sliced, speared, hamburger-chip, sour, half-sour, kosher dill, to name just a few varieties, there is a flavor and shape for all sorts of taste buds — and a solid, steady demand for these delicious treats to boot. Quality standards assure a delectable product; OU supervision assures the highest standards of kosher as well.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines teamwork as “work performed by several associates, each doing a part but all subordinating personal prominence to the efficiency of the whole.” At the OU, we try to work together as a team to come up with unique solutions to the unique challenges that kosher certification presents. But before one can talk about teamwork, one must first define the team. The OU team is not only comprised of the Rabbinic Field Representatives (RFRs), Rabbinic Coordinators (RCs), Kosher Law Advisory Board and support staff, but also includes a key component, our partners at the various companies; specifically our kosher contacts. It is often their experience and ingenuity that overcomes the challenges to create the solutions.
As an OU certified company, the primary contact you have with the OU, besides your rabbinic coordinator (RC) at OU headquarters, is your RFR (rabbinic field representative). Out in the field, the RFR is the face of the OU, and you may not be aware that your RFR is both a valuable source of information and can provide service that you should be aware of — and avail yourself of.
Many company reps who are assigned to work with the OU Kosher program are not fully aware of the tools that are at their disposal or what assistance can be obtained from their friendly visiting RFR. You are no doubt familiar with organic certifiers, government agencies (FDA, USDA, etc.), as well as third-party auditors like SQF, BRA and AIB. Kosher certification is a very different program, and your RFR also has a very different role compared to other auditors.
The origins of the Aracouna chicken have baffled scientists for the last century. The Aracouna Indians kept no written records and the source of the mutations observed in these birds is unknown. European explorers took note of these birds shortly after reaching South America. The birds are mentioned in the writings of the Portuguese explorer Magelhaes (Magellan) who documented their presence in 1519, less than thirty years after the maiden voyage of Columbus. The sky blue eggs were mentioned seven years later by Sebastian Cabot (1526). Although it is possible that the chickens were introduced by the Europeans, the immediate dispersal and distinct husbandry of these birds suggest that the bird was being raised by the natives before 1492. Similarly, radiocarbon and DNA analysis indicate that these birds are not of European origin (Story et al., 2007).
Founded in 1797, The Birkett Mills is the oldest and one of the primary millers of buckwheat in America. The company is located in Penn Yan, New York, and has been family owned for over 200 years. Originally the mill was water powered and it generated electricity for both milling of grain, but also for the village of Penn Yan until the village had its own source of electricity. The town was founded by Connecticut Yankees and Pennsylvania Dutch and thus got its name from both of these groups.
In a recent issue of Daf HaKashrus, we presented information about the contemporary controls and regulations that pertain to government inspection of milk, demonstrating (with the concurrence of Rav Belsky, shlita) that the Igros Moshe’s heter for cholov stam is alive and even stronger than before.
In the early twentieth century, Belgian colonists in the Congo noticed that the Congolese were careful to store elephant meat in papaya leaves. Intrigued, they found that the papaya leaves, besides protecting the meat, tenderized it. Laboratory analysis demonstrated that a particular enzyme, called papain, was the agent of the process.