Click on a topic to view popular questions on that subject.

  • I have a friend who owes me 1,000 dollars. He told me that once Rosh Hashanah comes, he will not have to pay me back. Is that true?

    To answer we have to start from the beginning.  The Torah says in Devarim (Chapter 15, verses 1-2) “at the end of seven years…every creditor should release his authority over what he lent his friend.”

    The observance of Shemittah is not only resting the land of Israel, but also forgiving all debts.  Any loan not paid at the conclusion of the Shemittah year is cancelled.  This is referred to as Shemittas Kesafim.

    The Torah continues: “beware lest there be an unfaithful thought, the seventh year is approaching and you will hold back from helping your needy brother and not give him… you should surely give him… G-d will bless you [15:9].”

    Read the full article HERE

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  • Which ICEE syrup flavors are recommended?

    The OU certifies several Icee flavored syrups that are used in Icee beverages. Before purchasing an Icee beverage, one must verify that the flavor is made using a kosher syrup.

    Click HERE for the Icee list

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  • How is cheese made kosher?

    As with any food, all of the ingredients in the cheese as well as the equipment used during the manufacturing process must be kosher. However, a special prohibition makes kosher certification of cheese a bit more challenging: the ban on gevinat akum, which means that cheese not made under special rabbinical supervision is not kosher.

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  • What is the source for gevinat Akum?

    The Talmud (Avodah Zarah 29b, 35a-35b) states that the sages of the Mishnaic period forbade eating cheese manufactured by non-Jews. Although the Talmud offers various reasons for this prohibition, most halachic authorities maintain that the ban was made because of the use of rennet in cheese making. Since rennet was traditionally derived from the lining of a calf ’s stomach, Chazal forbade cheeses not made under onsite rabbinical supervison because of the likelihood that they contained rennet from calves that had not been slaughtered in accordance with halachah.

    It is important to note that the prohibition against gevinat Akum is not at all related to the kosher regulations regarding milk (chalav stam and chalav Yisrael—unsupervised milk and milk under onsite rabbinical supervision). Those who consume chalav stam are fully bound to adhere to the prohibition against eating gevinat Akum. Gevinat Akum is deemed non-kosher under all conditions, rendering the utensils and cookware used in making and serving it non-kosher as well.

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  • Can rennet used in hard cheese render the product non-kosher?

    A product containing a minuscule amount of a non-kosher ingredient is often regarded as kosher, as the non-kosher substance is batel, or nullified. However, rennet used in hard cheese cannot be batel because of the halachic axiom that a non-kosher ingredient that gives a product its form—called a davar hama’amid—is never nullified (Yoreh Deah 87:11). Even trace amounts of such an ingredient can affect the kosher status of a product. Rennet is one of the most potent food enzymes, and it is therefore used in hard cheese in minute amounts; nevertheless, it cannot be batel.

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  • Aren’t some cheeses made from non-animal derived rennet?

    In today’s world of advanced food technology, much of the rennet used is microbial, that is, artificial. Nevertheless, mainstream halachic literature posits that Chazal banned all cheese made without onsite rabbinical supervison, irrespective of the presence of animal rennet, as a precaution against the consumption of actual non-kosher animal rennetbased cheese (Rambam, Hilchot Ma’achalot Asurot 3:14 and Shulchan Aruch ibid., 115:2). Thus, cheese made from artificial rennet (as well as Portuguese hard cheese made from thistleflower rennet) is not kosher when manufactured without onsite rabbinical supervison.

    It should be noted that the bulk of today’s cheese manufactured in mainland Europe does contain animal rennet. Furthermore, lipase—an enzyme added to some cheeses to hasten the breakdown of fat and endow a more powerful flavor—is almost always animal-derived (lipase is extracted from the tongues of domesticated animals), although artificial lipase substitutes are becoming more widespread. Romano cheese is usually treated with goat, lamb or kid lipase, and blue cheese often contains calf lipase.

    Still, even cheese made with glatt kosher animal rennet and lipase is considered gevinat Akum when manufactured without onsite rabbinical supervison, as the sages created a general ban on such cheese.

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  • How does one make gevinat Yisrael?

    Some halachic authorities rule that to satisfy the gevinat Yisrael requirement, a rabbinical supervisor must be present to supervise the cheese making and ensure that only kosher rennet is used; others hold that a rabbinical supervisor must personally add the rennet (similar to “bishul Yisrael ” and “pat Yisrael,” which are satisfied only if the rabbinical supervisor is actually involved with cooking or baking the food). The OU follows both halachic opinions and insists that rabbinic field representatives supervise all kosher cheese productions and add the rennet as well. In modern cheese facilities, rennet is often not added manually. Rather, it is dosed into cheese vats via automated rennet feeders. In such cases, the rabbinic field representatives activate the rennet feeders for each vat of cheese produced. Cheese made in Jewish-owned plants is automatically considered gevinat Yisrael, thereby alleviating the need for full-time rabbinic supervision or involvement (Shach on Yoreh Deah 115, s.k. 20).

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  • Does gevinat Yisrael also apply to soft cheeses?

    This, too, is a point of dispute. Some halachic authorities maintain that gevinat Yisrael applies to all cheeses. Others contend that only cheeses with rennet are subject to this rule. The OU and most of the other kosher certifying agencies adopt the latter position, and on-site full-time supervision is thus not required for acid-set cheeses. (Of course, the ingredients and equipment must be kosher nonetheless, and a reliable kosher symbol must be present on the package.)

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  • Why is kosher hard cheese so expensive?

    The cost of sending rabbinic field representatives to far-flung places to supervise hard-cheese production for days on end is significant. Kosher cheese manufacturers will naturally need to charge more for their products to cover the costs involved.

    Furthermore, nearly all domestic and European hard-cheese plants are non-kosher when not doing special kosher cheese productions. These plants schedule kosher campaigns sporadically in the midst of their normal nonkosher activity. Thus, aside from supervising the cheese manufacturing process, the rabbinic field representatives often need to kasher (or supervise the kashering of ) each plant before every kosher production. This can take days to complete, and it is not simple work.

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  • What is “chametz sheavar alav haPesach”?

    The Torah prohibitions against chametz are unique, in that a Jew is not only prohibited from consuming and deriving benefit from chametz (fermented wheat, spelt, oat, rye and barley) during Pesach, but he is even restricted in owning it because of the injunction of “ba’al yairo’eh uba’al yimotze” (literally, chametz “may not be seen or found,” but the Sages interpreted this to mean that ownership of chametz is prohibited). In addition, the rabbis of the Talmud established an after-the-fact penalty for owning chametz products during Pesach, in violation of halachah. Such items, known as “chametz sheavar alav haPesach,” may not be consumed, nor may one derive benefit from them. This means that if you neglected to sell your box of Raisin Bran before Pesach, you may not consume it or derive benefit from it even after Pesach. (In fact, if one accidentally purchased chametz sheavar alav haPesach, the item may not be returned for a refund, as this would constitute derivation of benefit.) While some posit that only the owner is penalized for chametz sheavar alav haPesach, in practice we follow the viewpoint that its restrictions are universal and apply to everyone. (Perhaps this serves as a deterrent against hoarding chametz in order to sell it after Pesach.) As a result, one may not purchase chametz from a Jewish-owned store or supermarket after Pesach if the owner continued to own and purchase chametz during the holiday.

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  • What if the store is jointly owned by a Jew and non-Jew?

    Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895-1986; Iggerot Moshe, EH 1:7) discusses whether it is permissible to buy shares in a company that operates on Shabbos. Rav Moshe posits that a minor shareholder is not considered a halachic owner of the business. However, if one owns enough stock that the management  reckons with his  opinion, the Jewish shareholder is treated as a partial owner of the business, even if he owns less than 50%. One would assume  that with respect to chometz,  if a Jewish shareholder owns a minor share and has no say in the business operation, his ownership is halachically irrelevant. But if the minor shareholder has a say in the company, this would pose a problem, if the chometz was not sold before Pesach.

    Nonetheless, some  Poskim maintain that that if the non-Jewish partner owns a majority of the business, we apply the principle of nullification known as bitul birov, and there is no concern of chametz sheavar alav HaPesach. (See Shu”t Zecher Yitzchak, responsa 8, and Chemed Moshe, quoted by the  Mishna Berura, 348:2. The Mishna Berura appears to question the premise of the Chemed Moshe that a majority of non-Jewish ownership is sufficient for nullification to occur. If there is a ratio of 60 to 1, the Mishna Berura appears to be in full agreement that the Jewish ownership is nullified.)

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  • Which stores are Jewish owned & do not sell their chametz?

    There are private lists available that circulate around Pesach time with basic information, but it is best to check with your local rabbi. If he is in doubt, he can call the Orthodox Union (OU) or another major kashrut organization that has access to this information.

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  • Prohibition of “chametz sheavar alav haPesach”?

    Bread, cookies, cake, pretzels, blintzes, cereals and other foods that contain any of the five primary grains (oat, wheat, spelt, rye and barley) are included. Interestingly, even flour is problematic because wheat is tempered in water before milling, and flour has the status of chametz. Whiskey, beer and other alcoholic beverages distilled from grain also pose the same concern.

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  • Does chametz sheavar alav haPesach apply to kitniyot?

    Jews of Ashkenazic descent refrain from eating kitniyot (legumes, such as corn, rice, beans, et cetera) during Pesach. However, this is a tradition that evolved in the last millennium, and these foods are not actual chametz. As such, chametz sheavar alav haPesach does not apply to kitniyot, and these items may be purchased in any supermarket after Pesach.

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  • Do products that contain vinegar fall under the prohibition of chametz?

    Surprisingly, the answer is the classical rabbinic response: “It depends.” Vinegar is manufactured from fermented alcohol, and there are various sources of alcohol. In the United States, most vinegar and alcohol is corn-derived (corn is kitniyot), and chametz sheavar alav haPesach does not apply. In contrast, in Europe, the majority of alcohol is derived from barley. As such, vinegar-based products in Europe are a problem.

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  • How long must one wait before buying chametz from a Jewish-owned supermarket after Pesach?

    When I was a child, it was customary to wait until Shavuot, which is six weeks after the conclusion of Pesach. This date was a “guesstimate” of how long it would take for the stock of chametz that had been in the store during Pesach to be depleted. Today, it is generally assumed that the inventory in a major supermarket is sold much more quickly; shelves are generally restocked on a daily basis. Still, supermarket chains maintain large inventories of products in warehouses for distribution in individual stores, and it is necessary to calculate the turn-around time from the warehouse delivery until the purchase by the customer in the actual store.

    Rav Moshe writes (Iggerot Moshe, OC 4:96) that it is permissible to purchase chametz from a supermarket at the point in time when there is a 50 percent possibility that the supermarket purchased the chametz after Pesach. Since chametz sheavar alav haPesach is a rabbinic (and not a Biblical) injunction, one can rely on a principle known as “safek derabbanan lekula” (one can be lenient when it is uncertain if a rabbinic restriction applies), and therefore shop freely in the store.

    The question is, When can one legitimately say there is a 50 percent chance that the chametz on the supermarket shelf was purchased by the store after the conclusion of Pesach? How long does it take to establish a reasonable doubt? It is difficult to give a precise cut-off date. Communal rabbis generally tell their congregants when they feel comfortable purchasing chametz, and my impression is that Lag B’Omer (which is twenty-five days after the conclusion of Pesach) is a safe time.

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  • Why can’t rabbis sell the chametz of Jewish-owned supermarkets before Pesach?

    Indeed, this is exactly what takes place. In fact, some rabbis arrange to sell not only individual stores but also entire supermarket chains. However, this process is not without controversy, as it appears on the surface to be nothing more than a subterfuge. After all, some supermarkets are open on Pesach, conducting business as usual, buying and selling chametz. Doesn’t this demonstrate that the sale of chametz is performed without sincerity? This argument is not new. Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyahu Medini (1832-1904) writes in his encyclopedic work, the Sdei Chemed, that a storeowner in his city closed his shop for Pesach and arranged for the sale of his chametz to a non-Jew. During Chol Hamoed, it was discovered that the store was secretly engaged in selling the chametz to non-Jewish customers. Rabbi Medini viewed this as a clear indication that the storeowner was not serious about the original sale. He publically forbade the community to purchase chametz from this store (as he considered it chametz sheavar alav haPesach), even though it resulted in enormous losses for the storeowner.

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  • Why is mechirat chametz an accepted practice when it appears to be no more than a legal charade?

    The arguments cited above against selling supermarkets to non-Jews for Pesach lead us to fundamental questions about the propriety of the general sale of chametz as well. To highlight this point, consider the following: For the past twenty years, I have had the unique honor of arranging the sale of chametz for all Jewish-owned companies that are certified by the OU. It has often occurred to me that the total value of this chametz amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. Every year I meet with an accommodating non-Jew who graciously purchases this chametz for a down payment of ten dollars. I explain to him that the balance of payment is not due until after Pesach. If one year I decide to not repurchase the chametz, this kind-hearted purchaser would have to come up with an astronomical sum that would be way beyond his means. Most rabbis don’t engage in million-dollar sales, but the chametz they sell on behalf of their congregants may easily be worth tens of thousands of dollars. How can these sales be valid when the buyers lack the financial resources to pay for the goods?

    This very same argument was made almost three hundred years ago by Rabbi Alexander Sender Schor (1650-1733) (Bichor Shor, Pesachim 21a). The sale of large quantities of chametz became prevalent a few hundred years ago as Jews began to invest heavily in the liquor industry, and the disposal of chametz before Pesach would have resulted in very substantial losses. Rabbi Schor asks, “How can the sale be valid when the purchaser is a man of very limited means who never purchased anything of significant value in his lifetime?” Though Rabbi Schor offers a halachic response to this question, many rabbanim objected to mechirat chametz on these grounds, and the matter remained controversial. In fact, many people do not sell chametz be’ain (visible chametz), and will only rely on mechirat chametz for mixtures of chametz. (For example, licorice and many corn-based cereals contain wheat flour as a minor ingredient. The halachah is less strict with regard to such chametz, since it is not “visible.”) A full analysis of this topic is beyond the scope of this article, but the lenient position has generally prevailed. Mechirat chametz has become a fixture of Jewish life, and most people sell all kinds of chametz. For our purposes, suffice it to say that mechirat chametz is valid because the sellers, who are unable to own chametz, clearly want to unburden themselves of these forbidden wares, and the purchaser is told that the sale is legally binding. In theory, the buyer could acquire the necessary capital to pay the balance due after Pesach by selling the chametz that he has acquired.

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  • Why is mechirat chametz for a supermarket that continues to sell chametz during Pesach a valid sale?

    Good question. Many posekim fundamentally oppose the sale of Jewish-owned businesses that sell chametz on Pesach. In stark contrast to the mechirat chametz of a halachically observant Jew, the sale of a supermarket that is fully open for business on Pesach lacks the aura of respectability. The seller is clearly not sincere about the sale. For this reason, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903-1993) and others considered sales involving supermarkets that sell chametz to customers on Pesach to have no validity. Nonetheless, Rav Moshe (Iggerot Moshe, OC 1:149, 2:91 and 4:95) was the champion of this transaction. He put forward various arguments of justification, one of which is that halachah does not take into consideration private thoughts (devarim shebelev) that are not verifiable. Furthermore, it is conceivable that the storeowner prefers to transfer ownership of his chametz to a non-Jew so his religious customers can shop freely in his establishment after Pesach, even though he intends to continue selling chametz merchandise during Pesach.
    The OU follows the more stringent position of Rabbi Soloveitchik.

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  • How does the OU certify Jewish-owned businesses that manufacture chametz? How are manufacturers different than supermarkets?

    OU companies that are Jewish owned are not permitted to manufacture or distribute chametz during Pesach. When the OU enters into a new contract with a Jewish company, we make this policy clear at the outset.

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  • Chametz purchased by the supermarkets during Pesach ?

    Rabbi Pinchas M. Teitz (1908-1995), the rabbi of Elizabeth, New Jersey, for many years, took the initiative to arrange the sale of chametz for a number of large supermarket chains. About twenty-five years ago, I asked Rabbi Teitz why the sale was effective when the stores continued to acquire chametz on Pesach. Rabbi Teitz, who was a great talmid chacham, explained to me why he felt it was halachically possible to sell the chametz acquired on Pesach as well. Rabbis who sell supermarket chains follow this position. Nonetheless, a careful reading of the Iggeret Moshe (OC 4:96) makes it clear that Rav Moshe had a conflicting opinion and did not consider it possible to sell the chametz acquired by supermarkets during Pesach. In fact, this is the opinion of many contemporary posekim. If we accept this latter view, one cannot purchase chametz in a supermarket—even if we know that the chametz in that supermarket was sold prior to Pesach—until such time that it is reasonable to assume that the majority of inventory was either purchased before or after the eight days of Pesach. (Sorry. No post-Pesach Danish.)

    Some rabbanim have found creative ways to deal with the problem of chametz purchased by supermarkets during Pesach, but these solutions have not been universally accepted. This subject is complex and is beyond the scope of this article.

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  • If Rav Moshe maintained that supermarkets cannot sell chametz that is acquired during Pesach, why did he advocate the sale of supermarkets before Pesach?

    For two reasons. First, the sale of a supermarket is halachically beneficial for the storeowners. By transferring ownership of large quantities of chametz that are on the supermarket shelves before Pesach, the owners are spared from violating multiple Torah restrictions. Second, the sale limits the status of chametz sheavar alav haPesach to the narrow window of chametz that is purchased by the store on Pesach, and thus, the turnaround time for the depletion of prohibited merchandise is shortened.

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    Yes, it is true. In fact, when this happened, many rabbis gave a sigh of relief, as we thought that matters had been simplified—and one could buy chametz after Pesach in all those supermarkets. But not so! Shortly thereafter we learned that the largest distributor of food items on the East Coast, which distributes products to a number of major supermarket chains, is the Jewish-owned C&S (Cohen & Siegel). If the distributor owns chametz during Pesach, the very same problems of chametz sheavar alav haPesach apply equally to all non-Jewish-owned stores supplied by that company. Rabbi Elazar Mayer Teitz of Elizabeth, New Jersey, sells the chametz of C&S, but the concern discussed above with respect to supermarkets (the inability of the rabbi to sell chametz that is acquired on Pesach) has now shifted to the distributor, and the problems remain the same.

    Some rabbis are of the opinion that one can purchase chametz after Pesach in non-Jewish supermarkets that are supplied by C&S. The logic goes as follows: Whatever chametz was in the possession of C&S before Pesach is not problematic, since it is sold to a non-Jew before Pesach begins. Chametz purchased by C&S after Pesach is obviously acceptable for use. Only chametz acquired during Pesach is therefore a matter of concern. No one is certain how long it takes for products to move from the C&S warehouse to the supermarket shelf. Let’s say you visit your local supermarket (which uses C&S as a supplier) the week after Pesach and you see a box of Cheerios on the shelf. There is no way to determine if that box is chametz sheavar alav haPesach. The same uncertainty prevails if you shop two or three weeks later. Since we are dealing with chametz sheavar alav haPesach, which is a rabbinic injunction, the rule of “safek derabbanan lekula” applies and one can be lenient and purchase the Cheerios.

    Other rabbanim are not comfortable with this approach. We know with certainty that at some point in time, most of the chametz in the store will be chametz sheavar alav haPesach. Because of our lack of information, we can’t establish precisely when that is. It is unreasonable to allow the purchase of chametz at all times when we know that, at some instance, the chametz is prohibited. I have discussed this topic with Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, halachic consultant to the OU, on many occasions, and he firmly subscribes to the latter view.

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  • CHAMETZ SHEAVAR ALAV HAPESACH: Why is everything left unresolved?

    Halachah is not monolithic and rabbinic disputes abound. Jews have always turned to their rabbis for guidance and assistance when there are conflicting halachic opinions. For the reasons outlined above, there is no one definitive position for where and when chametz can and cannot be purchased after Pesach. It is difficult to gather precise information and it is no simple matter to chart a course between conflicting halachic positions. The OU does not supervise supermarkets, and it is our belief that questions related to chametz sheavar alav haPesach fall into the domain of she’eilot one should ask of his local rabbi.

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  • CHAMETZ SHEAVAR ALAV HAPESACH: Can you summarize the discussion?

    Here it is in a nutshell:
    • The sale of chametz in Jewish-owned stores that operate fully on Pesach (i.e., chametz is sold in the store) is a matter of dispute.
    • Even for those who assume the sale is valid, it is questionable whether the sale is effective for chametz that is acquired during Pesach.
    • Ask your rabbi to determine which supermarkets are Jewish owned or are supplied by Jewish distributors, and how long after Pesach you must wait to purchase chametz sold in these stores.

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  • May I use frozen Kirkland Salmon for Passover?

    Due to the frequent application of glazes to raw fish, it should be purchased only with reliable kosher for Passover certification. However, Kirkland Frozen Wild Salmon is acceptable without special Passover certification after washing it off, while the Kirkland Atlantic (farm raised) Salmon is acceptable as is without special certification for Passover.


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  • What coffees are acceptable for Passover?

    All unflavored ground coffees are acceptable for Passover use when bearing an OU.

    Decaffeinated coffee: Coffee is often decaffeinated by means of ethyl acetate, which is derived from either kitniyot or chometz. Therefore, decaffeinated coffees are not acceptable for Passover unless specifically marked for Passover, found in the OU Passover Guide or on oupassover.org under the heading of products certified for year-round use and Passover.

    Instant coffees often contain maltodextrin, which is derived either from corn (kitniyot) or grains (chometz). Therefore, all instant coffees require special Passover certification unless explicitly mentioned in the OU Passover Guide or on oupassover.org under the heading of products certified for year round use and Passover.

    This year Folgers decaffeinated unflavored instant coffee is acceptable without special Passover certification.

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  • How do I kasher a Keurig machine?

    A Keurig machine may be kashered by way of hagalah or iruy. For detailed instructions please refer to pages 24-26 in the OU’s 2015 Passover Guide which can be viewed on, or downloaded from oupassover.org. Alternatively, one can find this information in an article titled ‘The Kashering Primer – Passover 2015’ located on the homepage of oupassover.org.

    First remove the K-cup holder and clean very well. Perform hagalah or iruy on the K-cup holder and then brew a Kosher for Passover K-cup in the machine to kasher the top pin.

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  • Which K-cups are acceptable for Passover?

    Unflavored, not decaffeinated ones. The OU symbol often appears on the box and not on the individual cup. As a side note, in the near future the OU symbol will start to appear on the individual cups.

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  • Is instant coffee from Starbucks ok for use on Passover?

    Via instant unflavored coffee is acceptable for use on Passover when bearing the regular OU symbol.

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  • Can quartz countertops be kashered?

    Quartz counters are made of a combination of crushed quartz (stone) and resins (like plastic).
    One can kasher stone, and there are different opinions about kashering plastic for Pesach.
    To read more about kashering, please visit: oukosher.org/passover/articles/kashering-for-passover/.

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  • Selling pure chometz vs items mixed containing chometz.

    According to most opinions, one may lock up and sell even foods that are pure chometz. Some have the custom not to sell food that is pure chometz. This is because the sale involves complex halachic issues, and it is difficult to fulfill the requirements in a way that satisfies all opinions. One may be lenient if disposing of pure chometz would cause financial hardship. The following foods are examples of items that would fall into the pure chometz category; beer, biscuits, bran, cake, cookies, wafers, cereals, oatmeal, puffed wheat, wheat germ, crackers, dough, pasta, soup nuts, and malt. In regard to white flour it is questionable whether it is considered pure chometz. This is because the grains are washed quickly and most likely have not been in contact with water for an amount of time sufficient enough to become chometz.  Therefore, some who will not sell pure chometz will sell flour.

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  • Do chometz dishes and pots need to be sold for Passover?

    If pots were sold, they would need to be immersed again after Passover when they are reacquired. The custom, therefore, is to sell any chometz that remains in the pots.

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  • Arranging a sale in a different time zone during Passover?

    One should notify the rabbi who is selling the chometz. The rabbi will then be able to schedule the sale and repurchase of the chometz to accommodate the time difference.

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  • Do raw nuts require certification for Passover?

    Raw nuts in their shell do not require Passover certification. Shelled nuts that list BHA or BHT (preservatives) in the ingredients require special Passover certification. Please note that different communities have different customs regarding peanuts. Some consider them to be kitniyot; while others eat peanuts on Passover.

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  • Does extra virgin olive oil need to be certified kosher for Passover?

    Extra virgin olive oil is Kosher for Passover, as long as it bears the OU symbol. All other oils require Kosher for Passover certification to be consumed on Passover.

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  • Which baby formula can I use for my infant on Passover?

    Most infant formulas are made from soy products which are kitniyot. Since kitniyot does not apply to infants most formulas may be used on Passover. For a list of acceptable formulas please visit oukosher.org/passover/articles/baby-formula/. Please note that care should be taken to keep bottles, nipples and formula away from the general kitchen area. Any mixing or washing should be done elsewhere, such as in the bathroom sink.

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  • Is almond or soy milk acceptable for Passover?

    Almond and soy milk may be problematic and are not recommended for use on Passover. If a situation arises and it is needed by an infant or an infirm person, please see pages 100-101 in the OU Passover Guide or at oupassover.org under the site’s general Passover FAQ tab for a list of products that are acceptable for this situation.

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  • Differing opinions ,cooking meat & fowl for consumption at the seder

    It is customary not to serve meat or fowl which has been roasted, broiled, or pot roasted (tzli keder) at either of the two sedarim. Meat that was boiled in water which completely evaporated during the cooking process is an exception according to some. Fried meat does not fall into the above categories of cooking methods provided that the oil is noticeable when the dish is served. 

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  • Ta’anis Esther this year will be Wednesday, March 4. What time does the fast begin and when does it end?

    The fast begins when one goes to sleep at night, unless one plans to wake up early to eat before the fast begins. If one planned to wake up early, he can eat until a lot ha’shachar (dawn) [1] which is 72 minutes before sunrise. The fast ends at tzeit ha’kochavim, nightfall. (There are different opinions regarding when tzeit ha’kochavim occurs. Rav Moshe Feinstein evaluated that it is 50 minutes after sunset, but if one is having difficulty fasting, he may break the fast 40 minutes following sunset.)

    However, it is preferable to refrain from eating until after hearing the Megillah. If one is having a difficult time fasting, especially if he/she is waiting to hear a later reading of the Megillah,one may eat a snack after tzeit ha’kochavim.   If one is very weak and needs to eat a meal, they may do so, but they should assign someone to remind them to hear the Megillah [2].


    [1] Shulchan Aruch O.C. 564:1
    [2] Mishnah Berurah O.C. 692:16

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  • Who is obligated to give a Machtzit Hashekel and when should it be given?

    When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, there was an obligation in the month of Adar for every adult male to contribute a half-shekel coin toward the purchase of the upcoming yearly communal offerings. Today, as a remembrance of those coins, a machtzit hashekel (half dollar coin) is given to charity.  Since the word “shekel” is repeated in the Torah three times, the common custom is to donate three half-dollar coins to charity.

    There is a difference of opinion as to whether all men from age thirteen are obligated, or only from the age of twenty. However, many have the custom that young men beginning at age thirteen to give the machtzit hashekel, and fathers give the machtzit hashekel on behalf of their young sons before the bar mitzvah age [1]. The coins are contributed on Ta’anis Esther before Mincha, but if they were not given then, they may be donated anytime afterwards as well [2].


    [1] Mishnah Berurah O.C. 694:5
    [2] See Teshuvas Avnei Yashfeh O.C. I:133

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  • Can one fulfill their obligation of Purim seudah (festive meal) on the first night of Purim?

    The mitzvah to eat a seudah on Purim is specifically in the day. However, it is proper to eat a partial seudah at night as well [1], and it is customary to eat seeds or grains on Purim night to remember the difficulty that Esther had in eating kosher when she was in the palace [2].


    [1] Shulchan Aruch O.C. 695:1
    [2] See Yalkut Yosef KS”A O.C. 695:18

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  • Earliest/latest time to read the Megillah on the day of Purim?

    The Megillah can be read anytime during the day of Purim, from sunrise until sunset [1]; however, to show our enthusiasm for the mitzvah it is proper to read the Megillah as early as possible. In cases of pressing need, one can read the Megillah from alos hashachar (dawn, 72 minutes before sunrise), but it may not be read any earlier. If one still had not read the Megillah by sunset, they should read the Megillah  without reciting the beracha. [2]


    [1] Shulchan Aruch O.C. 687:1
    [2] Mishnah Berurah O.C. 687:5

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  • If I began my Purim seudah during the day, but it did not finish until after tzeis ha’kochavim, do I still recite Al Hanisim in bentching?

    Yes. However, there is an opinion that if one already davened Ma’ariv, then they should no longer recite Al Hanisim in bentching. Therefore, to avoid this question, it is proper to bentch before davening Ma’ariv. (Mishnah Berurah O.C. 695:16)

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  • What are the guidelines for mishloach manot?

    Both men and women are required to fulfill the mitzvah of mishloach manot. One must send two different portions of food or drink to at least one other Jew. The foods should be ready to eat items (e.g. not raw chicken, meat or fish) that one would typically serve at the Purim seudah. The items need not be foods with different berachot.

    For example, one may send as mishloach manot an apple and an orange. While there is no specific size or value for what constitutes a portion, some authorities maintain that the portions must be considered important by the receiver [1]. Therefore, one should not send a wealthy person a portion that he would consider inferior. It is proper to send “shalach” manos (a common slang usage), as the name implies via a messenger [2].


    [1] Bi’ur Halachah 695 s.v. Chayiv
    [2] Mishnah Berurah O.C. 695:18

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  • What are the restrictions for an aveil (one who is in their year of mourning the loss of a parent or thirty days of mourning the loss of other close relatives) regarding sending and receiving mishloach manot?

    Everyone is obligated to fulfill the mitzvah of mishloach manot, including one who is in mourning. However, because these gift baskets are associated with an extra happiness, which is an unfitting display for one who is in mourning, the mishloach manot should   be scaled back to the minimum. The mourner should send only one package of mishloach manot, and it should contain simple foods that do not give the appearance of a celebration [1]. Additionalmishloach manot can be sent by the family without designating the aveil specifically.

    Likewise, it is considered improper to send mishloach manot to a mourner. Instead one should address the mishloach manot to the family. However, some permit sending mishloach manot to a rebbi or teacher who is in mourning, since in this case the gift is viewed more like a payment or a tip [2]. If mourners did receive mishloach manot, they may accept the gift [3].


    [1] Mishnah Berurah O.C. 696:18
    [2] Teshuvas Divrei Malkiel V:237
    [3] Teshuvas Shevet HaLevi X:107

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  • What are the guidelines for matanot l’evyonim?

    Every Jew is obligated to give gifts to two needy individuals. All men, women and children over the age of bar mitzvah are obligated in this mitzvah, even if they do not have their own income, and even if they themselves would qualify to receive these gifts [1]. It has become customary for rabbis and other community leaders to collect funds on behalf of needy individuals. Monies can be given to these collections before Purim, provided the funds are distributed on Purim.

    While there is a difference of opinion as to the exact minimum amount one can give to satisfy their obligation, (a few pennies or a few dollars), it is well known that the Rambam (Megillah 2:17) writes that it is better to increase the amount one gives to matanot l’evyonim even more so than for the Purim seudah or mishloach manot. Additionally, there is a custom that on Purim anyone who puts out their hand for assistance should not be turned away empty handed.


    [1] Mishnah Berurah 694:1

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  • How should one conduct himself with respect to drinking on Purim?

    While there are different halachic opinions regarding drinking on Purim, clearly, the safety of you and those around you takes precedence. One should exercise proper discretion. The OU does not condone underage drinking.  Furthermore, excessive drinking is inappropriate. One must be vigilant in preventing any trace of chilul Hashem from inappropriate behavior on Purim.

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  • Are there any rules as to where a sukkah may or may not be located?

    The sukkah should not be located in an area that has a bad smell1. It cannot be placed under a tree or awning. It should preferably be built on a patio, deck or driveway and not on the grass2.
    1. Mishna Berurah 630:4
    2. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 336:3)

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  • What are the minimum dimensions for a sukkah?

    A kosher sukkah must have at least 3 walls, and each wall must have a minimum length of 28 inches (7 tefachim x 7 tefachim)3. The walls of the sukkah must extend at least 40 inches high4, and the walls may not be suspended more than 9 inches above the ground5 (this is a common problem with fabric sukkahs).
    3. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 634:1)
    4. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 633:8)
    5. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 630:9)

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  • Is it a problem if my sukkah walls blow with the wind?

    The walls of a sukkah should be tied tight so they do not move with the wind6. If this cannot be done, then one should install a series of tight belts or ropes that will not blow in the wind that wrap around the sukkah. The first belt is placed within 9 inches of the floor and the next within 9 inches of the first, and so on, until this series of belts reaches above 40 inches. Thus, with four or five parallel belts, one can create a halachic wall that does not blow with the wind.
    6. See Yechaveh Daas 3:46 for sources that any amount of movement will pasul

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  • What is the story with schach mats?

    Years ago, “putting up schach” referred to the tedious process of placing hundreds of single stalks of bamboo or lath across the top of one’s sukkah. Today, this task has been greatly simplified due to the proliferation of schach mats. However, mats that are made for sitting are not kosher for schach8. Because these mats are made in a part of the world where it is common to make mats for sitting, it is imperative that one’s schach mat comes with a reliable hashgacha.
    8. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 629:6)

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  • Who can place the mats on top of the sukkah?

    The mats should be placed on the sukkah by a Jew l’sheim mitzvah (for the purpose of the mitzvah). If it is necessary to have a non-Jew assist with the laying of the mats, a Yisroel should raise the mats slightly and lay them back down9. This may be done with a pole.
    9. See Mishna Berurah 636:8

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  • How should the schach be supported?

    One should not rest schach directly on metal or plastic, but rather on wooden beams placed on top of the metal poles10. If one’s mats are woven with plastic wire, they must make sure that the schach is placed perpendicular to the wooden beams; otherwise the stalks are being supported exclusively by the plastic wire.
    10. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 629:7)

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  • Can one tie their schach mats to the sukkah with string?

    Schach mats are notorious for blowing off of the sukkah. Therefore, the mats should be tied down. However, one should not tie the schach with wire or synthetic strings, but rather they should use cotton or hemp string or place heavy 2x4s on top of the schach to weigh it down.

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  • What must be eaten in the sukkah?

    All meals that involve bread or mezonos must be eaten in the sukkah. However, if one is only eating fruits and vegetables, or less than a k’beitza (volume of an egg) of mezonos then a sukkah is not required11. It is meritorious to eat and drink exclusively in the sukkah12. One only recites the blessing “leisheiv ba’sukkah” if there is an obligation (i.e. a meal of bread or mezonos). During a meal, one may not eat anything outside of the sukkah, even fruits and vegetables13.
    11. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 639:2)
    12. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 639:2)
    13. See Mishna Berurah in Sha’ar Ha’tziyun 639:29

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  • Who is obligated to eat in the sukkah?

    Men are obligated to eat in the sukkah. Boys from the age when they can eat independent of their mothers (approximately 5-6 yrs old) are obligated to eat in the sukkah14. Foods that require a sukkah, may not be given to a child to eat out of the sukkah15. Women are not obligated to eat in a sukkah, but if they do so, they fulfill a mitzvah, and according to Ashkenazik tradition they may recite the blessing16.
    14. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 640:2)
    15. Mishna Berurah 640:5
    16. Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 589:6)

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  • Since a bee is non-kosher, how can honey be kosher?

    The Gemara (Bechorot 7b explaining Vayikra 11:21) offers two explanations: One is that the bee processes the nectar that it stores and converts to honey, but the honey does not actually come from the bee itself. The other is that there is an inference that consumption of bee honey is permitted.

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  • Can I use unfiltered honey for Rosh Hashanah?

    Clear unfiltered honey typically undergoes some rudimentary refining steps, and most likely any bee particles will have been removed. As such, it is acceptable for use without further filtration. Nonetheless, since the honey is translucent, if you spot any particles, they should be removed. Particles can be removed on Yom Tov. On Shabbat, to avoid the issur of borer (prohibition of separating), some honey must be removed with the particle. If the honey is opaque, it most likely has not been filtered or refined at all. Opaque honey should be filtered before use. Filtering should be performed before Yom Tov or Shabbat.

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  • I have heard rumors that honey may be adulterated. Do I have to be concerned about this?

    Although there are reports of adulteration in honey, the reports have not been substantiated. Furthermore, the alleged adulterants, even if present, are kosher sweeteners. For Pesach, one should look for Passover certified honey.

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  • Can I use honey from a honeycomb on Rosh Hashana?

    Yes, honey may be used directly from a honeycomb.  Since removing honey from a honeycomb involves the issur of mifarek (prohibition of extraction), one should crush the honeycomb before Yom Tov or Shabbat (Mishnah Berurah, 321, 48).

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  • Which items are considered Pat Yisrael?

    The minhag (custom) applies to breads, cakes, pies, pretzels and crackers. (In technical terms, it applies to all pat habo bikosnin. (For an in-depth explanation of pat habo bikosnin, see the following article http://oukosher.org/blog/consumer-kosher/the-mezonos-roll-is-it-a-piece-of-cake/)

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  • What about breakfast cereals? Must they be Pat Yisrael?

    Wheat flake cereals are not considered pat. There are differing opinions as to whether Cheerios is considered pat. The OU poskim do not consider it pat, because of the size of the individual pieces and the manner in which it is made.

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  • Would a non-Pat Yisrael bagel that was toasted by a Jew now be considered pat Yisrael? And what is the status of a pat Yisrael bagel that was toasted by a non-Jew?

    Once the bagel is fully baked by a non-Jew, it can no longer become Pat Yisrael. Toasting the bagel is not considered a completion of the baking. However, if the bagel was not completely baked (i.e. slightly raw or very light in color) then the completion of the baking by the Yisrael would render the bagel Pat Yisrael. In the reverse situation, a bagel baked by a Jew is considered Pat Yisrael once the bagel is edible, even if not fully baked. A Pat Yisrael bagel does not lose its status even if a non-Jew finishes the baking or toasts the bagel.

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  • Do pie shells need to be Pat Yisrael?

    Yes. A pie shell fits into the category of “pat ha’bah b’kisnin” (refer to OUKosher.com article mentioned above for a definition of this term) and therefore should also be Pat Yisrael. However, if one purchases pie shells that are not fully baked, then they will become Pat Yisrael when one completes the baking. One should not use non-Pat Yisrael graham crackers to make their own pie shells.

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  • What about bread crumbs? Do they need to be Pat Yisrael?

    Yes, bread crumbs should be Pat Yisrael as well. There were poskim who were lenient regarding bread crumbs that are used for deep frying. This is because frying is a different process than baking and the deep frying is viewed as the completion of the bread crumb preparation (see Teshuvat Avnei Nezer Y.D. 100). Since this is a matter of dispute, unless there is a pressing need, Pat Yisrael bread crumbs should be used.

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  • Can one purchase slurpees at a 7-Eleven?

    The OU certifies a number of Coca-Cola syrups that are used in slurpees. To purchase slurpees, it is necessary to verify two things: Is the syrup made by Coca-Cola, and is the specific syrup OU certified? Irrespective of store claims, one can only be certain that a Coca-Cola syrup is used by checking the label on the syrup box. However, the Coca-Cola labels on syrup boxes do not bear an OU symbol. Provided below is a list of all OU certified Fountain Frozen Syrups. If uncertain about a particular Coca-Cola syrup, one can verify its certification status by calling the OU Kosher office at 212-613-8241, emailing kosher@ou.org or by checking special tags that are sometimes displayed on the slurpee machine that display the Coca-Cola logo and an OU.

    View Kosher Slurpee List

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  • Are Coca Cola Freestyle Machines Kosher?

    Freestyle Machines of the Coca Cola company enable the consumer to mix a variety of soft drink flavors to his/her own personal choice. All flavors available in the freestyle machines in the United States and Canada are products of the Coca Cola Company. We confirm that they are all produced under the certification of the Orthodox Union and are kosher and pareve.

    Click here for a list of certified flavors.

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  • Must one wait six hours to eat meat (for those who wait six hours after meat to eat dairy) after eating aged cheese?

    One must wait six hours to eat meat after eating cheese that is aged for six months or longer. The following are a few of the more popular aged cheeses that are aged for six months: Dry Monterey Jack, Cheddar (Medium, Sharp and Aged), Marble Cheese, Parmesan, and Picante Provolone.
    For the complete list, please see OUKosher.org’s Aged Cheese List.

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  • Can a BBQ be used for both meat and fish?

    The Gemara (Pesachim 76b) teaches that it is a sakana (danger) to eat fish and meat together. As it is extremely difficult to clean a grill, the same grill rack should not be used for meat and fish. Either the fish should be double wrapped in aluminum foil or separate grill racks should be used.

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  • Is it possible to cook on a BBQ that was previously used for non-kosher food such as BBQ’s at parks and campsites? Also, can an outdoor gas or charcoal grill be kashered?

    Since food is roasted directly on the grill, the grate must be heated until it glows (libun gomur) to be properly kashered. This can be done either with a blowtorch (which should only be used by qualified and experienced individuals) or by sandwiching the grates between charcoal briquettes and setting them on fire. In addition, if the grill has a hood, the empty gas grill cavity must be kashered by cleaning, closing the hood and setting it to the highest setting for one hour (libun kal).  Alternatively, one may replace the grates and kasher only the grill cavity as explained above.

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  • Can in-room hotel ovens or microwaves be used without kashering?

    It is possible to use a non-kosher microwave or oven by double wrapping the food item. If using a microwave, one may poke a small hole in each cover so that the steam can escape and the package will not explode.

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  • Is it possible to obtain hot, kosher meals on a cruise ship?

    The only practical option for hot meals on a non-kosher cruise ship is to eat certified pre-packaged meals that are double wrapped, such as those found on airplanes.  These may be heated in any oven as long as the seals are intact and the package remains closed.  (There are other halachic concerns that arise on a cruise ship pertaining to Shabbat that have not been addressed here. Please ask your rabbi for guidance.)

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  • Is it permissible to take antihistamines without certification?

    First, please remember, that anyone with a life-threatening condition should take whatever medicines are necessary without hesitation. In general, tablets are preferable to liquid medications which may contain problematic ingredients.  If no tablet alternative is available, the liquid should be diluted in water, juice or any liquid by a ratio of one to six, which is one ounce of liquid to one teaspoon of medication. This ratio should be done only in consultation with your doctor.

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  • Does the OU Recommend Other Hasgochos?

    We do not feel it is appropriate or ethical for the OU to evaluate certifying agencies. We therefore recommend that you consult your local Rabbi or community kashrus agency.

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  • Are there kosher concerns of Bishul Akum if the food is cooked in a microwave by a Gentile?

    For obvious reasons, microwave cooking is not discussed in the Talmud or Shulchan Aruch. Nonetheless, some contemporary poskim equate microwave cooking to the cooking process of smoking. The Shulchan Oruch (Yoreh Deah 113:13) rules that food that is smoked by a Gentile is not treated as bishul akum because the Rabbis did not prohibit unusual cooking methods. Since microwave cooking is a new innovation, it is treated as unconventional, and bishul akum would not apply. Other contemporary poskim argue that today, microwaves have become a standard mode of cooking and therefore bishul akum is a concern. We therefore recommend that you consult your local Rabbi or community kashrus agency.

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  • How much involvement by a Jew is required to avoid the status of Bishul Akum?

    There is a dispute among the early codifiers whether bishul akum is negated by a Jew initiating the entire cooking process (i.e. by placing the food in the oven or on the stove top, or by turning on the fire after the food is on the stove), or whether it is sufficient for the Jew to partially contribute to the cooking of the food (i.e. turning on the fire, even though the non‐Jew subsequently places the pot on the fire, raises the temperature of the fire or adds a woodchip to the fire). Rav Yosef Cairo, author of the Shulchan Oruch supports the stringent position (Yoreh Deah 113:7), while the Ramo concurs with the lenient view. Jews of Sephardic descent generally follow the Shulchan Oruch, while Ashkenazic Jews adhere to the Ramo.

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  • How do we determine what foods are eaten on the king’s table?

    There is no royalty in America, but food that would be served at a state dinner or even at an upscale wedding is generally considered “served at a royal table”.

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  • What is the definition of food that can be eaten raw?

    Food that most people would feel comfortable eating without cooking would fall under this category. Some common examples are water, oil, butter, jam and jelly, fruit juice (excluding grape), honey, yogurt, canned fruit, flavored drinks, milk, ice cream, banana chips, nuts, cheese, vinegar, ketchup, apple sauce and many canned vegetables (corn, string beans, peas, carrots, mushrooms, cucumbers and peppers).

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  • Are all OU products Bishul Yisroel?

    An OU product should not be assumed to be bishul Yisrael unless so indicated on the label. In general, the halacha (Jewish Law) does not require bishul Yisrael in all circumstances. For example, foods that are eaten raw or which would not be served at a royal banquet do not require bishul Yisrael. The OU symbol insures that all halachic requirements are met.

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  • Are All OU Certified Grain Products Pas Yisrael?

    An OU certified grain product should not be assumed to be pas Yisrael unless so indicated on the label. In general, the OU follows the halachic opinion that does not require pas Yisrael status.

    For a list of OU products that are Pas Yisrael click here

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  • Are All OU Certified Grain Products Made from Kemach Yoshon?

    The OU does not guarantee that a product containing any of the five grains of wheat, oat, spelt, barley, or rye is yoshon, unless the word yoshon appears on the product label. In general, the OU relies on the halachic opinion that these five items do not require a yoshon status.

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  • What is the OU’s Opinion on Dairy Breads and English Muffins?

    Dairy bread was prohibited for consumption by a Rabbinic injunction enacted over 2000 years ago. The Rabbis feared that since most bread is parve, a person might mistakenly eat dairy bread with meat products without realizing the dairy status of the bread. (Meat bread is also restricted because it may accidentally be consumed with dairy items.)

    There are two exceptions to this rule:

    Dairy bread that has a unique shape is permissible because the shape will serve as a reminder that the bread is not parve. One may bake a small portion of bread which will be consumed in one meal, as it is assumed one will remember the meat status without difficulty.

    There are several brands of English muffins labeled OUD because they contain dairy ingredients. How does the OU justify the certification of a dairy bread item?

    At one time it was argued that English Muffins have a unique shape and therefore the first leniency applies. While this explanation may have been true at one time, the OU no longer considers this valid. At the present, both dairy and parve English Muffins are commercially available. As such, the unique shape of an English Muffin does not currently alert one to the dairy status.

    Others have suggested that a single muffin is generally eaten in one sitting, and the second leniency above applies. This reasoning has been rejected as well because muffins are typically sold in packages which should be viewed as one unit. A package of muffins is certainly more than one serving.

    Currently, the primary justification to certify dairy English Muffins is that the dairy component is less than one part in 60 which is halachically insignificant (bitul bishishim). Ordinarily, the OU does not certify a product that contains a non-kosher ingredient, even if used in small proportions because, halachically, we are not permitted to intentionally nullify a non-kosher entity. (This is known as bitul issusr lichatchila.) Dairy English Muffins are not comparable because the milk component in of itself is permissible, and when it is mixed in the batter at low levels, the milk does not attain a prohibited status. As such, preparation of dairy English Muffins is justifiable

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  • What is the OU’s Policy with Regard to Shmittah and Israeli Produce?

    For the past 130 years, there has been a great Rabbinic debate over the propriety of selling Jewish farmland to non‐Jews to avoid the prohibitions of shmittah. Though many great Rabbis advocated in favor of this sale (known as the heter mechira), other equally great Rabbis stood in strong opposition. The OU does not rely on heter mechira when endorsing Israeli product. Therefore, during the shmittah year, produce grown in Israel is only OU certified when grown by gentiles or packaged from sixth‐year inventory.

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  • Is There a Halachic Issue with Parasites in Fish?

    Years ago, a concern was raised regarding whitefish from Winnipeg that were found to be
    infested with parasites. At that time, poskim ruled that this was not an issue. Recently, the question of parasites in fish has resurfaced and has become a topic of much controversy and discussion. The OU position remains that parasites found in the flesh of fish are not a Halachic concern.

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  • Why Does the OU Symbol Appear On Labels That May Not Reflect Kosher Values?

    Often times, the OU appears on products which are labeled in ways that may not necessarily reflect kosher values. For example, a fish sauce may display a picture of a non‐kosher fish, the OU may appear on artificial crab or pork, or there may be a recipe for a non‐kosher food item on the label. At times, references to religious holidays may appear on labels and there may be images that do not reflect Jewish standards of modesty.

    It is important to recognize that one of the strengths of the OU is that we typically certify products that are not manufactured exclusively for the kosher market. As such the product labels reflect the needs of the manufacturer and not necessarily the niche of the kosher consumer. One of the many benefits to this is that the manufacturer does not have to order new labels or special ingredients for the kosher product which saves them money thereby making kosher food readily available in most parts of the world at reasonable prices. In addition, for various reasons, companies seek supervision for a wide range of products and, at times, will certify their entire product line since all of the ingredients are kosher. It would be inappropriate for the OU to restrict the content of the label since the product is intended for general use. Companies prefer to use the OU on as many products as possible because the OU serves as a general endorsement which appeals to consumers beyond the Jewish market. In some instances, such as labels bearing religious symbols, the manufacturer would find the OU restrictions to be offensive and intolerant. The OU logo relates only to the kosher status of the food in the package and not to the content of the label. It is therefore solely up to the discretion of the individual consumer as to what they prefer to purchase.

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  • Coffee at Convenience Stores, Rest Stops, and Kiosks

    Can I drink coffee while on the road?

    In contrast to the response given regarding coffee prepared in a non-certified restaurant, it would be permissible to purchase a cup of coffee from a convenience store, rest stop or kiosk. This is due to the fact that the kashrus concerns noted for the restaurants are not applicable to an establishment that does not make its own food or use industrial cleaning devices which tend to reach very high temperatures.

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  • Coffee at Non-Certified Restaurants

    Can I drink coffee at a restaurant?

    It is not possible to make one universal statement about the kashrus of coffee prepared in a non-certified restaurant because each establishment is unique. Investigation has shown that theoretically, coffee served in a restaurant may be kosher even if the equipment used to prepare the coffee is washed in a sink together with other non-kosher items.  However, there are numerous variables which impact the halachic status, such as the introduction of soap, the temperature of the water, the method of washing (kli rishon versus kli shaini) etc. Due to the uncertainty and ambiguity of each situation, as a general rule, the OU does not recommend the consumption of coffee prepared in a non-kosher restaurant.

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  • OU-D and Cholov Yisroel

    What is the difference between OU-D and OU-D Cholov Yisroel ?

    Milk has Cholov Yisroel status when the milking and bottling is done under the supervision of a reliable Jewish person who ensures that the milk is only coming from a kosher animal.   In general, the OU follows the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, and others, that government inspection of dairies is equivalent to a Mashgiach’s supervision, whereby the status of the milk from these dairies is halachically equivalent to that of Cholov Yisroel.  Not all Poskim accept the position of Rav Moshe, and those who follow the more stringent opinion should only use OU products which are specifically labeled Cholov Yisroel, an indication that the milking and bottling were supervised by a Mashgiach.

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  • DE Designation

    Why does the OU not use a “DE” symbol?

    Some kashrus agencies use a DE symbol to denote products that are made on “Dairy Equipment” but do not contain any actual dairy ingredients. The OU has chosen not to use a DE designation to minimize the possibilities of confusion for the kosher consumer. Also, to be a true DE product, the equipment must be properly cleaned of residue after a dairy production, and that level of cleanliness is sometimes difficult to maintain and guarantee.

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  • Yogurt and Ice Cream Stores

    Can I eat at a yogurt or ice cream store that claims it is certified by the OU?

    There are many ice cream and yogurt stores bearing the brand name of an OU certified company and/or that sell OU certified products, however the OU generally does not certify the store itself. In such instances, the OU certification extends only as far as a sealed container bearing the OU symbol. Once the container is opened, the OU can no longer vouch for the kosher integrity of the item. For example, while an opened container of ice cream may bear an OU-D, the kosher status may have been compromised by a scoop that was used previously for non-certified flavors. If the entire store is certified, that will be reflected on the OU letter of certification.

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  • Product Missing OU Logo

    Why would a product that normally bears the OU symbol not bear one?

    There are a variety of reasons why a product may sometimes appear with an OU and sometimes without. Here are a few of those possibilities:

    • Printing error
    • Different sizes of the same product are made on different production lines or at facilities that are not certified.
    • The product without the OU symbol is manufactured in a non-certified plant.
    • The product without the OU is an old batch that was manufactured prior to OU supervision.

    Since it is not possible to know why an OU symbol is absent just by looking at the package, consumers are encouraged to contact our Kashrus hotline at (212) 613-8241 for individual product clarification.

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  • Fruit and Vegetable Infestation

    Which produce requires checking for infestation? How do I check properly?

    Many fruits and vegetables are prone to infestation and require appropriate bedika (examination) before consumption. The OU has prepared a special publication, The OU Guide to Checking Fruits and Vegetables & Berries, and we recommend that you consult the guide for further direction.  To order a copy please visit the  OU Press – OU Manual for Checking Fruits and Vegetables.

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  • OU Shmittah Policy

    What is the OU’s policy with regard to Shmittah and Israeli produce?

    For the past 130 years, there has been a great Rabbinic debate over the propriety of selling Jewish farmland to non-Jews to avoid the prohibitions of Shmittah. Though many great Rabbis advocated in favor of this sale (known as the Heter Mechira), other great Rabbis stood in strong opposition, and the OU sides with the stringent opinion when endorsing Israeli produce.  During the Shmittah year, the OU certifies only produce grown by gentiles or packaged from sixth-year inventory.

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  • OU Israel

    Is the OU in Israel different than the OU in the USA?

    The kashrus standards of products, food service establishments and Shechita are the same in Israel as they are in America and the rest of the world. In general, all halachic standards and policy decisions of any OU supervision are established by the OU Poskim and Rabbinic staff in our New York central office. Though the OU employs staff members in Israel to oversee the kashrus supervision, Poskim and Rabbinic Coordinators from the New York office travel to Israel frequently to review the operation on location and confirm that the supervision meets OU standards.

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  • NYC Tap Water

    Is filtration required for New York City tap water?

    There are two opinions among Poskim whether or not New York City water may be used without filtration. Because this issue is a matter of dispute, we require filtration of New York City water in OU certified food service establishments.

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  • Verifying Kosher Fish

    Can you identify a kosher fish by its name?

    It is not possible to establish the kosher status of a fish based on the fish’s name since fish names are not used in a precise fashion.  The proper way to verify the kosher status of a fish is to check for the presence of scales on the fish. The fish is kosher if the scales can be removed without tearing the skin of the fish.

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  • Grape Juice as an Ingredient

    Are grape juice and wine ingredients used in OU certified products such as mustard and fruit cups always Mevushal?

    OU certified products contain only OU approved ingredients. As such, wine, grape juice, grape flavor and grape derivatives in OU products are only approved in such products when they are Mevushal (cooked), so that there is no concern of Stam Yaynom (wine and grape juice products handled by a non-Jew).

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  • Eggs and Blood Spots

    Since eggs are candled, do they still need to be checked for blood spots?

    Blood spots in fertilized eggs are prohibited, and one should check cracked eggs to make sure they are blood-free. Commercial eggs today are not fertilized and blood spots are not halachically prohibited.

    Nonetheless, even today, the prevailing minhag (custom) is to discard eggs with blood spots and check cracked eggs before they are cooked. Though raw eggs are candled before they are packaged, the candling process is not foolproof and the OU cannot guarantee that the eggs are 100% free from blood spots. The presence of an OU on a box of eggs does not obviate the need to check the individual eggs for blood spots. OU supervision is limited to the method of processing the raw egg. For example, raw eggs are sprayed with mineral oil to coat the egg shell with sheen and clog the pores to enhance the shelf life of the egg.

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  • Products with Fish Ingredients

    Why are there products that list fish as an ingredient, but only bear an OU, while other fish products have “OU-Fish” on the label?

    Products that contain fish ingredients that exceed 1 part to 60 are labeled “OU-Fish”. If the fish ingredient is present at a ratio of 1 to 60 or less, the OU allows the product to bear a plain OU.

    There is a dispute whether fish which is present at the level of nullification, known as Bitul Bishishim (1/60th or less), may be consumed with meat. While Bitul Bishishim is effective for non-kosher ingredients, rabbinic authorities debate whether Bitul Bishishim applies to fish which cannot be consumed with meat because of Sakana (a danger to one’s health).   The OU does not mandate the “OU-Fish” designation because of the lenient opinion cited above. Nonetheless, consumers are encouraged to consult with their Rabbis for direction. The presence of fish will be noted on the ingredient panel.

    Products which are obviously made from fish (i.e. smoked salmon, canned tuna or sardines) are not required to bear the “OU-Fish” symbol.

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  • Dishwashing Detergent

    Do dishwashing detergents require kosher supervision?

    It is generally assumed that dishwashing detergents are not edible entities, and halachically they do not have a non-kosher status, even if they contain non-kosher ingredients, as is often the case. Nonetheless, some Poskim maintain that it has been the established minhag Yisroel (Jewish custom) to use kosher detergents on plates, pots and utensils that come in contact with food. An OU on a detergent insures the kosher status of that product. That said, if one used non-certified dishwashing detergent, Bidieved (after the fact), the kosher status of the utensils would not be compromised.

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  • OU Product Not Found on Website

    Why are some products that bear the OU symbol not listed on http://www.oukosher.org?

    The OU website provides a search field for OU certified products. Kosher consumers are sometimes surprised when they do not find OU products on the website. In truth, not all OU certified products are recorded online, as some companies have asked that their certified products not be posted for a variety of reasons. If you are uncertain if an OU symbol is authorized, please contact the OU office.

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  • Reading the Ingredient Panel

    Can I tell if a product is truly dairy or “DE” by checking the ingredient panel?

    If a product lists dairy ingredients on the ingredient pane, it is obviously dairy. Some common dairy ingredients are milk, yogurt, cheese, cream, butter, whey, lactose, casein, and caseinate.  However, a product may contain a dairy ingredient that is not listed on the ingredient panel. For example, flavors may contain dairy components, but the formula of flavors is not detailed on the ingredient panel.

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  • Infestation in OU Products

    Do products certified by the OU require inspection for infestation?

    OU certification insures customers that frozen or processed fruits and vegetables are free of infestation at the time of packaging. Nonetheless, infestation may develop at a later time. For example, pasta, cereal, beans and figs may become infested if stored in damp locations. The consumer must be vigilant at all times and evaluate whether inspection is necessary.

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  • Waxed Fruits and Vegetables

    Why does the OU give a hechsher to fresh fruits and vegetables?

    Many fruits and vegetables are coated with wax to protect these items and make them appear more appealing. It is possible (though not necessarily the case), that some components of the wax come from non-kosher sources. Nonetheless, in the opinion of the OU Poskim, waxed coatings are inedible and do not pose a kashrus concern. Nonetheless, the OU certifies some raw fresh fruits and vegetables. The OU symbol on these items indicates that the waxes, if used, are fully kosher. The OU on fruits and vegetables provides a service to the kosher consumer who prefers to avoid consuming waxes that are uncertified. This certification does not guarantee that the fruits and vegetables are free of infestation.

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  • OU on Inherently Kosher Products

    Why does the OU certify products that are inherently kosher?

    If a company requests OU certification, the OU will certify the product even if it does not technically require supervision.

    From the company point of view, the OU is beneficial as a marketing tool which extends far beyond the Jewish kosher consumer, as many people prefer to purchase a product that is inspected and certified. If the OU would refuse to certify innocuous products, this would create ill-will or tension between the OU and manufacturers, and would no doubt diminish corporate interest in kosher production.

    For the kosher consumer, there is an advantage as well to always purchase certified product. In theory, it is possible for any item to be prepared in a manner that renders it non-kosher. Thus, for example, the OU once discovered that a particular brand of bottled water was pasteurized on equipment used for non-kosher production. While this is a rare occurrence that hardly ever occurs, the presence of the OU symbol insures with absolute certainty that the product is kosher. Even if the possibility of a product being produced in a non-kosher manner is highly remote, the OU visits the production sites of all products bearing an OU to guarantee their kosher status.

    It is also true that kosher consumers do not always know what products do not require supervision, and the OU kosher symbol prevails as a mark of trust for the Jewish community.

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  • OU-D Milk

    What does OU-D mean on milk?

    OU certified milk is not Cholov Yisroel unless identified as such on the label. In general, the OU follows the opinion of Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, and others, that government inspection of dairies is equivalent to a Mashgiach’s supervision, whereby the status of the milk from these dairies is halachically equivalent to that of Cholov Yisroel . This is due to government inspections that insure cow’s milk is not adulterated with other species of animal milk.

    The OU-D insures that all vitamins added to the milk and the processing equipment are completely kosher.

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