Corn is one of the most versatile food substances found in nature. It has a wide variety of uses in the food industry as well as many other non-food uses such as ethanol for automobiles. There are a number of different types of corn. Today the primary types used in the USA are flint, dent, sweet corn and popcorn. Sweet corn is grown primarily for human consumption either on the cob or for further processing. Dent corn is the largest commercial corn. It is used for animal feed as well as for corn masa (corn flour treated with lime.) With the abundance of corn in the USA it is no surprise that there are numerous corn-based snacks produced throughout the country. Some of these snacks predate the formation of the United States. In fact one of the worlds oldest snack foods is popcorn. Others such as the cheese curl are relatively new as this was first produced in the 1930s Today, corn based snacks provide a wide range of products for consumers. While the base material is obviously kosher, there are a number of issues that arise in the kosher certification of corn-based snacks.
Many consumers would be quite surprised to know that the pareve-certified orange juice and iced tea that they enjoy are often manufactured on dairy equipment, and that this equipment was kashered to be rendered pareve for the production of these beverages. The fact is that the pasteurization and filling equipment used in dairies for milk is ideal for all types of drinks, and dairy factories therefore frequently produce a wide variety of non-dairy beverages. There are actually very few types of pareve beverages that can be assumed to be manufactured exclusively in pareve plants; fruit juice, punch, iced tea and coffee, plus lemonade – whether made as ‘national’ brands or as ‘heimishe’, Jewish brands – are all prone to be processed on dairy equipment which was kashered under the supervision or direction of a kashrus agency.
Milk is the most basic source of all that is dairy. Milk is also pretty basic from a kashrus perspective; so long as it is not cholov beheimah temei’ah (milk from a non-kosher species) or cholov akum (milk which is unsupervised or of unverified origin), milk is always kosher. Thus, most dairy materials made directly from milk would appear to be simple from a kashrus standpoint.
Halacha states that milk from a tereifah animal – meaning an animal which suffers from a mortal wound, as understood by Chazal – is non-kosher. (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 81:1) This prompts a good question: How can one know whether or not the milk he consumes is from a tereifah cow?
The role of pizza in America and the general Western world has undergone a major transformation in the past quarter century.
As we approach the Purim season, we can be thankful that today there are many reliably kosher-certified brandies, cognacs and liquors on the market. Let’s examine the kashrus issues of distilled wine spirits.
There is a general dictum in Halacha that we review issues relevant to each chag prior to it.
A growing number of Americans across the country are becoming more health conscious and their shopping carts are showing it – packed with organic produce; soy franks and burgers; spelt bread and pretzels; and a variety of vitamins and herb products.Today’s national supermarket chains are responding to this wholesome trend, featuring an expanding vitamin and herb section with multiple shelves of every combination, brand and potency. Thanks to the foresight and business acumen of a number of major vitamin companies, more and more kosher customers are frequenting these supplement sections, happily perusing an assortment of OU kosher brands. Words like antioxidant, ginkgo biloba, and glucosamine have made it into the kosher community’s vernacular, kitchen cabinets and daily nutritional regimen.
As the global marketplace becomes a local reality at the doorsteps of every consumer, more and more top-quality
European specialty products as never before imagined are increasingly available on these shores. While this is the case in general, it is especially notable in the kosher market, where kosher consumers now have neighborhood access to numerous overseas products that are renowned for their quality and branding across the Atlantic but were heretofore unavailable on this side of the Pond.
The balance is a delicate one in an era when brand loyalty has diminished and tastes are ever more fickle.
The flavor industry has grown from rather humble origins in the mid-nineteenth century, when processed foods first came to prominence, into a $1.5 billion dollar industry that churns out 10,000 new flavors a year. For purposes of kosher certification, chemicals and natural ingredients the raw components of a flavor are divided into three categories: natural, non-kosher, and “in between.” The natural category includes tea, cocoa powder, honey, lemon oil and other inherently kosher materials, as well as chemicals derived entirely from natural sources, such as heliotropin, a transmutation of petroleum.