Behind the Scenes (Theoretical Kashruth)

Kashruth Issues of Toothpaste

No household is complete without a basic toiletry, toothpaste. Although the use of modern forms of toothpaste became widespread by the early 20th century, tooth applications in crude forms have existed for hundreds of years. Today, toothpastes have come a long way and its manufacturing process is fairly sophisticated. Toothpastes, even the simplest kinds, contain […]

Styrofoam Cups and Aluminum Foil

Over the past several decades the kosher industry has grown considerably. Food companies recognizing the profitability of the kosher market have pursued kosher certification in an effort to increase marketability and sales of their products. What has been especially remarkable is that the pursuit of kosher certification has not stopped with food. It is not unusual to find nowadays a hechsher on non-food items. Are there really any viable kashrus concerns with something that is inedible? This article will focus on three popular household items, aluminum foil and pans, Styrofoam cups, and paper towels.

Does Wine Vinegar Present a Concern of Stam Yeinam?

Recently a homemaker called the OU’s front desk, concerned that her non-Jewish help had just used kosher red wine vinegar to prepare a salad dressing. Is the dressing, and the red wine vinegar, still kosher? To put this question in other terms: is red wine vinegar, like non-mevushal wine, subject to the laws of מגע […]

OU Position on Certifying Specific Animals and Birds

Daf Notes: The following article is taken from the soon to be published Sourcebook of the Three Day Harry H. Beren LA Halachic Adventure which is to take place Bs’d August 5-7. We thank Rabbi Seth Mandel and Rabbi Chaim Loike for their efforts in transcribing Rav Yisroel Belsky Shlita’s response concerning the specific animals and birds listed below.

Cholov Yisroel Ricotta Production/First Exclusively-OU Cholov Yisroel Product Ever

On Sunday evening, November 25th, I joined Dr. Simcha Katz, Chairman of the OU’s Joint Kashrus Commission, Rabbi Avrohom Juravel, head of OU Kashrus Technical Services, and a group of senior OU Kashrus staff for a special kashering and production at a well-established ricotta cheese company. The evening’s protocol was to kasher the cheese facility’s cholov stam equipment and to supervise an overnight production of cholov Yisroel ricotta for an OU-certified ‘heimishe‘ manufacturer of upscale Italian specialty products.

Halachos of Hafrashas Challah

We are all familiar with the mitzvah of hafrashas challah. When baking large amounts of bread, cake, or cookies, we make a berachah and take off a small piece of dough as the challah. Many bake extra dough in order to be able to perform this special mitzvah.

Dear Rabbi, How Do You Make Kosher Wine?

The Orthodox Union receives many inquiries about certification of wine. This is a typical response, as written by Rabbi Nahum Rabinowitz, Senior Rabbinic Coordinator.

Everything’s Popping! (With the OU and Popcorn)

According to www.popcorn.org, Americans consume in excess of 17 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually – or about 54 quarts for every man, woman and child. The world’s primary popcorn producing region is the Midwestern United States and an entire food industry has grown up around it.
Why is popcorn so popular? Because it is nutritional, versatile and delicious! Popcorn is an easily prepared whole grain snack. Without butter or other additions, popcorn is about 31 – 55 calories per cup. It goes with almost anything, and can accept a wide variety of flavor enhancements. Today, you don’t have to do much work to enjoy this treat. While of course one can still purchase raw popcorn and either air or oil pop it, microwave popcorn has become ubiquitous. In fact, the first test of the microwave on food in the 1940’s was popcorn. By the 1990’s this product niche had over $240 million in sales. And while salt and butter remain the most popular flavors, today’s marketplace is full of gourmet popcorns — and not only caramel. There are cheese flavors, chocolate covered, nut balls and new flavor trends like jalapeno, too.

Granola Brings Benefits to the Health-Conscious

Americans today are looking for alternatives. This trend has manifested itself in many different areas but is perhaps the most pronounced in the health sector. How often do we hear about alternative medicine? As a result, more and more Americans are electing to have a homeopath, chiropractor, or kinesiologist be their primary care physician in place of the more conventional medical doctor. In a word, Americans are looking to lead a more ‘natural’ lifestyle. After all, what can be better than what nature itself has to offer?

Brandy is Dandy, but Needs Special Attention to be Kosher as Well

Brandy is short for brandywine and is derived from the Dutch brandewijn, meaning burnt, or distilled, wine. The alcohol for brandy is produced by fermenting fruits to produce wine. Because fermentation is a result of the action of microbes in yeast, there is a natural limit to the alcohol content of the fermented material. When the alcohol concentration reaches a level of about 12 percent, fermentation stops. The reason is that the alcohol kills any remaining yeast so that no more alcohol is produced; the limit of alcohol content in wine, therefore, is around 12 percent. There is, however, a type of bacteria, called acetobacter, which thrives on alcohol, turning it into vinegar, thereby souring the wine. Thus, wine is ordinarily subject to two drawbacks in quality: The one is a limit to its strength, the other, a limit to its shelf life.