Friday, 20 March 2015

Modern Pesach Issues

Last year, I wrote a blog about what really needs to be kosher for Pesah. I discussed how we shouldn't go overboard "blow torching everything" and that things that are inedible are not a hametz concern. This year, I would like to tackle the topic of being more careful about food products that may indeed have genuine issues of hametz.

Modern food is produced in a very different manner than it was 30 years ago and certainly in our grandparents days. Every year there are developments in food chemistry. Foods are infused with additives and preservatives and stabilizing agents that may well contain hametz. 

I was asked by a congregant why it was that the VAAD guide listed any kosher certified vegetable oil as permitted for Pesah use but Canola oil was not. But when it came to cooking sprays the VAAD guide listed that Pam was ok when the main ingredient was Canola oil!

So I looked into the situation to understand it better. Canola oil is not a problem for Sephardim as such. The issue is the admixture of grains that are often in it due to the proximity to other grains. The canola oil in Pam is produced in a plant that gets its rapeseed from fields that have been checked, whereas other Canola oil products are not produced in the same plant.

UPDATE 2019: The OU has informed us that we no longer have a source of the canola oil so PAM spray is not certified for Pesah use this year.

Another question I was asked is why is it that coffee needs to be certified kosher for Passover? It is true that the coffee beans are kosher for Passover. The issues are the processes done to the coffee beans - the decaffeination, drying and flavoring. Please read here for more information.

Milk is fine but most dairy products such as cheeses and yogurts have problems. The issue relates to enzymes used in making these products. Enzymes are made from glucose which often comes from barley (hametz), corn or sweet potato. The source of enzymes must be checked to ensure it is not from the hametz source. 

The Vaad Pesah list is a list where everything is guaranteed hametz free. I cannot say that for other lists around. Therefore I recommend to be extra careful for the 8 days of Pesah. When I know there is a legitimate concern that an item may have hametz I prefer to avoid it then run the risk of eating hametz on Pesah. 

Wishing you all a Pesah Allegre!