Much Ado About Munching

One can scarcely calculate the amount of comforts and conveniences that constantly pepper our lives. The light bulb. The automobile. The dishwasher. We rarely, if ever, think about the work-hours and brain-power that went into creating these items. Could Einstein have known that the revolution he wrought in understanding the universe would affect how the GPS guides so much of our comings and goings? And, what about the inventor of the indispensable, highly coveted…snack!

At virtually every get together, be it social or business, we’ve come to depend on the pretzels, potato chips and popcorn – with the OU Kosher symbol on bag after bag.

“Consumers have a strong desire for ‘clean label,’ ‘healthy-good-for-you’ snacks, and that has fueled an increased desire for kosher certifications on our packaging,” says Barbara Moreno, Director of Marketing, Snak King. “We are proud to be an OU Kosher certified company.”

A great deal of time, energy and thought go into every step of the voyage from the factory to the consumer’s anticipated crunch.

For example, the addition of seasonings poses challenges for the kosher certifier. It goes without saying that their components must be kosher. However, many seasonings contain one of the most kosher-sensitive ingredients of all – cheese.

Kosher cheese certification is among the most highly regulated. The kosher agency will require on-site rabbinic supervision for each batch, unlike other

ingredients where days and weeks can go by without the rabbi visiting. Moreover, seasoning tumblers are frequently used for kosher parve (i.e., ingredients lacking dairy and meat derivatives), kosher dairy, and non-kosher. In order to keep the kosher items kosher and the parve items parve, both the equipment and the process have to be reviewed. It is imperative that the kosher certifier ensures that no product’s status is compromised. Sometimes, a tumbler will even require a full kosherization before a kosher run.

The ever-popular chip – including the corn, tortilla, or potato varieties, are fried in oil during manufacturing. As a rule, animals and their derivatives (such as oil) are not kosher without kosher slaughter. Hence, oil is a highly kosher-sensitive item. Even pure vegetable oil can have its kosher status compromised just by being processed on equipment used for non-kosher animal-derived oil.

There are those among the kosher population who observe certain stringencies regarding pretzels and other baked snacks. To accommodate these consumers, the certifier will have to arrange on-site visitation, so that a rabbi can ignite the oven or place the dough into the oven.

These are some of the concerns that a certifier of kosher snacks must address. So, the next time you chomp on a satisfying OU Kosher snack, keep in mind that an OU rabbi diligently did his duty…at crunch time.

 

 

Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell is an OU Kosher rabbinic coordinator, focusing on snacks, processed fruits and vegetables. He has also been extensively involved with OU Kosher educational programs and projects.