The Kosher For Passover Snack: A Rarity No More

Passover is a holiday steeped in great tradition. Our ancestors, living in a world without manufacturing processes, prepared all the food used for Passover from scratch, involving great time and painstaking effort. Producing any more than the bare minimum that was needed for the holiday was out of the question. “You will survive without snacks or nosh for eight days” was the familiar refrain, in that era before the microwave oven.

Fast forward to the 21st century, the age in which in an instant one can open a hand-held computer and surf the Internet, check email, download music, or speak on a cell phone with the touch of a button; likewise, when the time comes for a snack, we are able to eat whatever we want as well. All year round we may have pretzels (OU certified of course), microwave popcorn, cookies, cakes, or soy crisps for the-health conscious, but on Passover we must find snacks that are kosher for Passover. Ingredients such as non-Passover flour, legumes (corn, soybeans) and their derivatives (corn syrup, soybean oil), plus a number of other items, may not be used in food that will be labeled kosher for Passover. In addition, the equipment that is used must be purged of any remnants of these ingredients. However, with today’s modern production facilities, the opportunity to have all the Passover snacks we want is at our fingertips. In preparation for a Passover production, the company’s Schedule A and production process must be carefully reviewed each year to determine whether the ingredients used year round in the facility require kosherizing the facility for Passover.

The kosherization will generally require a 24-hour downtime for the equipment before the purging of any remnants of the chometz (leavened products) at very high temperatures. A rabbi will be present from the beginning of the kosherization, often arriving a day in advance to verify the 24 hours of down time. In the snack industry oils are used frequently in production. Soybeans are a legume and soybean oil is also prohibited for use on Passover.

Therefore, well in advance of the production, the company is required to change to cottonseed oil to allow its tanks to be flushed and to assure there are no remnants of the soybean oil in the system. An RFR will generally be present to meet the oil arriving by tanker truck to ensure that the shipment indeed contains certified for Passover product and that the transportation was done in dedicated trucks approved for Passover hauling. The rabbi will then seal the tank to make certain that nothing further is going into that tank prior to the onset of production. When the production is ready to begin, the rabbi is present and inspects the equipment and the ingredients to assure that they conform to the Schedule A and B lists of approved ingredients and products that have been provided by the OU office specifically for this production. It is important to emphasize that Schedules A and B for Passover are separate and distinct from the year-round Schedules A and B that the company maintains with its regular RC and RFR. Due to the change of ingredients and careful examination needed for Passover production, a rabbi will be present throughout the process to guarantee compliance with Passover guidelines. Today, the Passover snack industry is booming. From BBQ potato chips to potato sticks to matzo snacks; from apple snacks to cookies made with special Passover matzo meal, and with some of the most scrumptious cakes imaginable, with taste comparable to year-round delicacies, snackers and noshers will have plenty to choose from during the holiday, including products they don’t find the rest of the year. Many of our potato chip companies, for example, have special productions for Passover. With the Passover market growing yearly, now is the time to start planning for next year to prepare for the success your company will have in OU-P production.

OU Kosher Staff