A Chemical Reaction At Passover

April 4, 2005

TO A LARGE EXTENT, the chemical industry is free from Passover issues because so many food chemicals are exclusively mineral-based, as are the processing aids. However, it would be inaccurate to say that the regulations of Passover do not impact at all. We will focus on two critical areas: flocculants and alcohols. A flocculant is an agent that separates solids from liquids. Flocculants are a sub-group within the polyelectrolytes, which are water-soluble polymers (that is, conglomerations of giant molecules). Depending on their molecular weight (the combined mass of the component atoms), they will be either flocculants or deflocculants (agents that cause dispersion). The polymerization (that is, the production of the giant molecules from simple molecules [AKA monomers]) may be effected using a water-in-oil emulsion. The issue here is that oil may be derived from soy or corn, two kinds of kitniyot (legumes). Ethyl alcohol is produced from carbohydrate materials (such as sugar or starches) by the single-celled fungus known as yeast. Commonly, a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used. (If starches are used, they must first be hydrolyzed; the result is that they are converted to sugars, i.e., units with six-carbons each.) The issue here is that grains may be the source of the starches; kitniyot (legumes) contain carbohydrates, and they may be used, as well. Acetic acid, potentially an ethyl alcohol derivative, also requires special investigation for Passover. The OU stands ready to serve its companies in securing or producing Passover-friendly food chemicals.