Ask the Rabbi
By Rabbi Eli Gerstein
Q: Our tunnel oven is currently dedicated to run only kosher pareve products. Would it be permissible to run a dairy cookie on this line as a test run? The dairy product will contain about one percent whey powder. The whey powder is certified kosher OU-D.
A: Because this line is dedicated pareve, any change of status, such as running a dairy product, will have to be arranged in conjunction with the rabbinic coordinator (RC) who oversees the kosher program, and the rabbinic field representative (RFR) who monitors its implementation. The exact recipe would have to be reviewed to see how the whey is added in the cookie. For example, is the whey a component of the actual batter, or is it a component in a chip or a coating? If indeed the whey is a minimal component of the actual cookie, then the oven would not require a full kosherization, but would rather only require a full cleaning. Make sure to plan the date for this trial run, when the RFR will be available to approve the change back to pareve status.
Q: We are purchasing some reconditioned used tanks. They are not jacketed and have no heating capability. They are all spotlessly clean. We would like them to be used for kosher dairy. Is there anything we need to do?
A: Although the tanks themselves are not heated, there are still two other concerns. In the past, a hot non-kosher product might have been pumped into these tanks, or cold non-kosher products might have been stored in the tanks for 24 hours or more. Either of the possibilities would require that the tanks be kosherized. The easiest way to kosherize would be to utilize a sprayball hooked up to the CIP system. The tank should be sprayed with near boiling water (200° – 210° F) for 20 minutes. Another method would be to fill the tank with water and insert a steam hose that can bring the tank to a boil. If it would be possible to trace the history of these tanks, so that we can document that they came from a kosher facility, there would be no need to kosherize the tanks.
Q: Can you please explain why our request to have our butter bread added to our Schedule B (list of products to be certified kosher) was declined. All the ingredients on the list were already approved as kosher for use in other products? Why was this product not authorized?
A: In order for bread to be kosher, the ingredients must be pareve. In other words, dairy bread is intrinsically non-kosher. One of the basic kosher laws is that milk and meat may not be eaten together. Since bread is considered the staple of the meal, the rabbis of the Talmud enacted that bread must always be pareve to avoid the potential that one might serve dairy bread with meat.
Rabbi Eli Gersten serves as OU rabbinic coordinator and recorder of OU policy. A frequent contributor to BTUS, his “Seek and You Shall Find; How Information Makes OU Kosher’s Job Easier,” appeared in the Spring 2014 issue.