#AskTheExperts – Passover FAQs

Rabbi Eli Eleff

WHAT DOES OU-P MEAN?

OU-P or OU PASSOVER means that the OU has certified the labeled product as Kosher for Passover. To receive such a certification an extremely high level of supervision is required including hashgacha temidit (round-the-clock supervision), and proper koshering of equipment.

I PURCHASED AN OU-P PRODUCT WHICH SAYS “MAY CONTAIN WHEAT” OR “PROCESSED IN A FACILITY THAT PRODUCES WHEAT.” HOW CAN THAT POSSIBLY BE KOSHER FOR PESACH?

It is common for companies to print allergen warnings that a product may contain trace of milk, wheat, peanuts etc., even though the label identifies the product as parve or chametz-free. This appears contradictory, but in fact companies print this information to free themselves of liability because there may be those who react to allergens even in miniscule parts per million. Trace ingredients may result from air-born particles even after a thorough wash and kosherization. Such trace ingredients have no halachic significance, as they are batel bishishim (nullified in sixty parts) many times over. A product bearing an OU-P symbol is halachically kosher for Passover, irrespective of allergen warnings.

DO MY TOILETRIES NEED TO BE KOSHER FOR PASSOVER?

It is generally accepted that items that are not fit for canine consumption (aino roi l’achilat kelev) do not need special Passover certification. However, with regard to lipstick, mouthwash and toothpaste there are varied opinions among rabbinic authorities. We recommend seeking guidance from your personal Orthodox rabbi.

MY FAVORITE HAND CREAM IS ONE THAT CONTAINS OATMEAL, IS THIS ACCEPTABLE FOR PASSOVER?

Again, if it is not fit for canine consumption, the chametz component does not make a difference.

DOES BOTTLED WATER NEED TO BE KOSHER FOR PASSOVER? HOW ABOUT SELTZER?

All bottled water and unflavored seltzer are acceptable for Passover, even when not bearing kosher certification.

I HEARD THAT CARBONATION COULD BE DERIVED FROM BYPRODUCTS OF BEER MAKING. WOULD SELTZER THEN POSE A PROBLEM?

The OU has researched and determined that one need not worry that the CO2 is a derivative of the beer making process.

IS FROZEN SALMON ACCEPTABLE WITH OR WITHOUT AN OU-P CERTIFICATION?

Due to the frequent application of glazes to raw fish, it should be purchased only with reliable kosher certification. For a list of acceptable frozen fish see pages 81-83.

WHAT TYPE OF MEAT CAN I USE ON PASSOVER?

Meat and poultry when marked OU in their original manufacturer packaging are inherently chametz-free year-round, and should not require any additional special supervision for Passover. This does not include ground meat and poultry which require special Passover certification unless listed in year-round Pesach guide listing beginning on page 61.

IS BABY FORMULA A CONCERN ON PESACH?

Most infant formulas are made from soy products [they may also contain trivial (batel) chametz components]. Restrictions against kitniyot on Pesach do not apply to infants. However, one must take care to keep bottles, nipples and formula away from the general kitchen area. All preparations should be done elsewhere, such as in the bathroom sink. For a list of acceptable formulas see page 100.

CAN I FEED MY INFANT RICE CEREAL? AFTER ALL IT IS ONLY KITNIYOT?

There is the possibility of chametz in baby rice cereals, so the OU cannot recommend them for Passover use. However, there is no problem owning rice and making your own cereal from non-enriched rice or domestic rice over Passover.

WHAT ABOUT BABY FOOD? ARE THE PLAIN FRUITS OR VEGGIES A PROBLEM?

The restriction of kitniyot does not apply to children and the infirm. However, any prepared baby food can be problematic as it may utilize chametz preservatives and ingredients. Even 100% vegetable and fruit baby food may be produced on chametz equipment. Please see page 70 or visit our website for a complete list of acceptable baby foods on Passover.

I AM A COFFEE HOUSE DEVOTEE. CAN I PATRONIZE THEM ON PASSOVER?

Unfortunately, we cannot recommend this.

MY FAMILY ENJOYS EATING PREPARED FROZEN VEGETABLES, WHAT COULD BE WRONG WITH THAT?

Frozen vegetables that are not prone to insect infestation problems (and that are not problematic year-round), are nonetheless still problematic on Pesach. They are washed in water that often contains chametz anti-foaming agents. Moreover, some companies pack pasta products on shared packing machinery.

WHAT ABOUT FROZEN FRUIT?

These issues referenced above are not a concern in this case as facilities that process frozen fruit do not require special Passover certification. One must be careful that no additives i.e. corn syrup are used.

IS ORDINARY STORE-BOUGHT MILK ACCEPTABLE FOR PASSOVER CONSUMPTION? I HEARD SOMETHING ABOUT NOT BUYING IT DURING CHOL HAMOED?

Milk contains added vitamins that contain a slight chametz risk. Therefore it is best to purchase milk before Passover at which time chametz can be nullified (batel).

CAN I BUY LACTAID ON PESACH?

Lactaid tablet production is likely to involve chametz. This renders chewable Lactaid tablets problematic.

However, Lactaid milk is permissible if purchased before Passover since any chametz contained within Lactaid milk would be nullified (batel).

IS SOY OR ALMOND MILK ACCEPTABLE FOR PASSOVER?

Soy and almond milk can be problematic and are not recommended for use on Passover. In the situation that it might be needed by the young or infirm, please see pages 100-101 for a list of suggested products.

I HAVE HEARD MANY THINGS ABOUT QUINOA. WHAT IS THE ORTHODOX UNION’S TAKE ON THIS?

The OU does approve quinoa for Pesach but only when processed under special supervison. This is necessary due to the concern of cross-contamination because the packing facilities often process other grains that are forbidden on Passover. For a list of OU-certified quinoa see pages 76-78.

WHAT MEDICATIONS MAY BE TAKEN ON PESACH?

Please see our article on page 102 that outlines the laws of medications on Pesach.

I OWN A PET STORE. WHAT DO I FEED THE ANIMALS?

Since it is forbidden to own or benefit from chametz during Passover, food that contains chametz may not be fed to pets. However, it is permitted to give pets food that contains kitniyot.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH EGG MATZA? I HEARD THAT IT MIGHT BE A PROBLEM?

According to the Shulchan Aruch, dough made from flour mixed with fruit juices or eggs will not become chametz no matter how long it stands, provided no water is added. However, Ashkenazic custom is that egg matzot may only be used by the elderly and the infirm. Furthermore, all the precautions associated with ordinary Passover matza applies to egg matza. The egg matza must be baked thin, in specially heated ovens for less than eighteen minutes and must be carefully guarded from becoming chametz during production. (Sephardic custom commonly permits different varieties of flour-juice mixtures even when not produced as matza.)

A CLOSE RELATIVE HAS CELIAC DISEASE. IS THERE A WAY FOR THEM TO FULFILL THE MITZVAH OF EATING MATZA?

Yes! Thanks to greater awareness of these issues, gluten free matza is now available.  Lakewood Matzoh Bakery has both hand and machine matza shmurah, baked under GFCO (Gluten Free Certification Organization) supervision. This matza is not OU-certified. To place an order, contact: Lakewood Matzoh Bakery at 732.364.8757 or http://www.lakewoodmatzoh.com

As always, if a person has a medical need, it should be discussed with their personal physician and Rabbi.