Name That Kosher Symbol

Question

Hi Rabbi, I am trying to keep kosher and my friend said I should buy only food that has a special symbol that means it’s kosher. Why I can’t I just read the ingredients and see if they are all kosher? Thanks!

3 weeks

Answers

  1. Your question is one that I’ve been asked countless times over the years, and the concept of kosher certification has probably taken on more importance only in the past few generations, with the increase in food processing.

    Advances in food production technology have made it nearly impossible for a person to identify the ingredients in any product. Even by reading the ingredients on a label, it is impossible to determine if a product is kosher. Is the emulsifier in the food made from vegetable or non-kosher animal fat? Is the “certified food coloring” made from non-kosher ingredients? Is the machinery at the plant only used for this product, or is it also used for producing non-kosher foods without being koshered in between? What percentage of a particular ingredient is permitted to be in it without being required by law to list it? What lubricants are used in the production line? And so on…

    In order to be sure that a processed food is kosher, it is necessary to have the production process supervised from beginning to end by people with expertise in the laws of kashrut and food technology. There are a number of kashrut organizations that provide this supervision by special arrangement with the manufacturer. Each kashrut organization has a specific symbol that is printed on the package of the product they supervise. It is a good idea to know the symbols of the major kashrut organizations.

    There are certain products that many accept as kosher and can be used even without a hechsher (kashrut certification). These include fresh and frozen (unflavored, non-spiced, without sauce, etc.) fruits and vegetables, pure natural fruit juices (with the exception of grape juice), plain canned vegetables and fruits, sugar, salt, flour, tea (herbal tea requires a hechsher), coffee, beer, vodka, gin, and rum. (Liqueurs, such as Irish cream, Grand Marnier, and ready-mixed drinks like Pina Coladas require a hechsher.) It is a good idea to check with a local rabbi regarding the kashrut of the products sold in the stores in your area.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team