Behind the Scenes (Theoretical Kashruth)

Coatings For Fresh Produce

A small sign hanging above the produce in a local supermarket reads, “Fruits and vegetables have been coated with food-grade vegetable, petroleum, beeswax, and/or lac-resin based wax or resin to maintain freshness… No fruits or vegetables have been coated with animal-based wax”. The sign is the result of efforts by citizens groups demanding disclosure of ingredients in coatings used on fresh produce. The produce industry, citing the impracticality of constantly changing signs and claiming that disclosure would compromise the confidentiality of coatings ingredients, resisted these demands. The FDA regulation that emerged in 1994 is the result of a compromise between the two groups. Although the sign does disclose some information, it only tells part of a much larger story.

When It’s Enzyme Time, Call On The OU

THE ENZYME INDUSTRY and its component, the food grade enzyme industry, are areas that have grown rapidly over the last forty to fifty years. Enzymes are currently used to create all sorts of different properties in foods, throughout food manufacturing. Examples include the starch industry, production of cheese and other dairy products, bakery products, the egg industry, juice and wine production – and we could go on and on. Enzymes have been found to do all sorts of interesting things such as liquefy solids, sweeten starch syrups, curdle milk for cheese production, act as a clarifier in juice production, de-sugar egg whites to prevent browning during drying – and again the list goes on and on. It can truly be said that the use of food grade enzymes is now “mainstream,” as their usage is found in all sorts of production situations, large, medium and small.

What is Kosher Gelatin Revisited

It is well known that a few generations ago the Poskim discussed whether gelatin made from animal bones is kosher, and the general consensus in the United States was that it is not kosher. This article will focus on the more-recent developments regarding this ingredient.


An age-old adage declares, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The conventional approach to understanding the profundity of this truism is that, contrary to popular belief, life in our modern-day society resembles the life of our ancestors far more than it differs from it. Lessons gleaned from history give direction on how to proceed in the future. The Ramban called this an “inyan gadol” – a matter of paramount importance – when he commented (Bereishis 12:6): Kol ma she’ira la’avos, siman labanim, “Everything that transpired in the lives of the Patriarchs is a portent for their descendants.” The Torah is the embodiment of this reality. Its laws are as contemporary as they are timeless, and its historical accounts relating the events of thousands of years ago are ever relevant to the here and now. Times may be different, but life’s challenges and appropriate responses to those challenges, as set forth by the Torah, remain the same.

Special Productions – Special Procedures

For many kosher agencies, handling regular productions is…regular. Once an organization has a system in place for handling plant inspections, ingredient substitutions, label changes, new equipment and production adjustments, the key is simply to maintain the status quo. That is, until a plant wishes to do a “special production”.

A Change For The Better: Nishtaneh (Change) in Kosher Law

The concept of Nishtaneh and the Usage of Biotechnology for Ingredients

Kosher Oils

Many years ago, it was a common, though unsound practice of many frum people to check the kosher status of food items they wanted to eat by reading the ingredient listing printed on the label. This was not a good idea for two primary reasons: Although ingredients are generally required to be identified, there are […]

Across The Divide: Building Bridges

Several decades ago I spent some time in Rome, Italy. Faced with the depletion of the stocks of food that I had brought with me, I set out to explore the availability of kosher food in the Italian capital. I was advised that there was a store that specialized in kosher food. It took all […]

The Key To Ingredient Approval In Today’s World

When Bob, the purchasing agent at kosher-certified Joe’s Fine Baked Goods of Palo Alto, California, is evaluating a potential supplier of margarine, he uses some of the same criteria that anyone involved in a purchase would consider: he wants the product to be of appropriate quality, and it should be appropriately priced. But before he […]

The Case Of The Baffling Bialy

The question had haunted him for years. If there was one sore point in an otherwise legendary career, it was Mac’s inability to find a problem with the OU. GAZING AT HIS REFLECTION in the gritty office window, Milton “Mac” Donald, Kosher Private I, was impressed at the new dimension seven days without shaving gave […]