Frozen Bugs – Yum!

Our community up here in Montreal seems to be very machmir when it comes to food and kashrut, I believe.  I have written before about how most families that I associate with up here will not eat Pas Akum (bread made by a non-Jew) whereas the same types of families down in NY do.

I had a discussion today about whether or not frozen veggies have to have a hechsher. I was of the impression that anything you buy to eat has to have kosher certification, but apparently if there is no risk of bugs being mixed in with your frozen peas and carrots, there is absolutely no need. (This applies to only frozen veggies that have nothing added and have not been processed with anything else). But I remember learning that if you have the choice between buying a kosher brand and a regular store brand, you are supposed to choose the kosher brand and give the money to a fellow Jew.

What about pure fruit juices? Rougemont makes awesome apple juice. They used to have the MK certification. I guess they decided to save themselves some money and no longer bear kosher certification. Most people that I know will no longer buy it due to lack of hechsher. But is there anything non-kosher about it? It’s still the same juice. 100% pure is 100% pure.

Is my community just extra machmir, or does this make sense to you? All thoughts appreciated.

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13 Comments

  1. swiss says:

    In Switzerland we buy applejuice without a hechsher. Same goes for orange juice and most soft drinks (except Multivitam that might contain grape juice and some swiss specialties that contain milk)

  2. batya from NJ says:

    there is a difference between frozen apple juice & frozen OJ. I remember hearing that frozen OJ does NOT need a hechsher but frozen apple juice does. i believe it has something to do with how apple juice & OJ are both made. It would make sense that OJ is made by just squeezing whereas apple juices may be made on machines that are using for grape juices & that in fact may be the issue since grape juices most certainly need hechsherim… so in short, i would say frozen OJ should not be an issue but frozen (& fresh apple juice) w/o a hechsher is an issue but then again i am not a rabbi, or a rabba, or a maharat, or any kind of rabbinical authority although my dad’s a rabbi but i don’t know if that counts ;)!

  3. mrsjessica says:

    Definitely in Europe they don’t need a hechsher for a lot of juices – DH had a friend visit from England, and they had a conversation about the differences over that. Also, you are right about the frozen veggies – we do the same, although be sure to thoroughly inspect the package for anything like “ready cooked”. Otherwise, go for it.

    • batya from NJ says:

      mrs J, i believe it depends on the type of frozen veggies. for example, brocolli & spinach need it but i also remember hearing that if it’s chopped finely perhaps it doesn’t but don’t quote me on that…also, it’s a problem to use frozen veggies with onions that don’t have a hechsher…anyhow, this is what i have heard..

  4. Dinky Londoner says:

    In the UK we don’t need a hechsher for most soft drinks, frozen veg etc. We just check ingredients for grape juice etc. To make sure, we consult the London Beth Din Jewish food guide (http://www.kosher.org.uk/) for exceptions and general information. This whole ‘hechsher on everything’ seems a bit bizarre to me – prob coz we’re not big enough to get a hechsher on a wide variety of food on general sale.

    • HSaboMilner says:

      I used to live in London so I am very familiar with the book. it just seems that there is a different standard over here…

  5. curious says:

    I have been led to believe that any item whether juice or veggies or whatever that has been processed in any way would need a hechsher. Why do spices need a hechsher? Dried fruit? As we do not know how the food is processed. What if is made on Shabbat (don’t know if that makes a difference)?
    Someone please clarify. You bring up an excellent point HSM.

  6. G6 says:

    I don’t think there is one hard and fast rule.
    I think it depends on the particular item and how/where it is processed and whether the equipment used is also used for other things.
    Apple juice often tends to be processed on the same equipment as grape juice.

  7. Lady Lock and Load says:

    You will be happy to know that our Rov is very experienced in kashrus, he used to work for the chof K.

  8. Jonathan says:

    For another halachically sound perspective on what does and doesn’t require a hechsher, you may want to check out Rabbi Yitzhak Abadi’s website. He has a forum where people can pose questions about all different kinds of issues. For more info:

    http://kashrut.org/faq.asp

  9. Gavi says:

    With all due respect to Jonathan and R. Yitzhak Abadi, many of his halachic positions are far from normative, and in some cases simply not in line with the sources.

    ———————–

    That being said, our Montreal community is often over-the-top when it comes to minor chumros in kashrus. I personally recommend contacting the Star-K in Baltimore for such questions – Rav Moshe Heinemann usually publishes the halachic rationale behind his decisions, which adds a level of credibility to the concerned consumer.

  10. > I was of the impression that anything you buy
    > to eat has to have kosher certification, but
    > apparently if there is no risk …

    The general principle: you need a hekhsher only on those foods which have a risk or suspicion (חשש) or possibility of being unkosher.

    If you think about it, Medieval Jews didn’t have heksherim, but they lived just fine. For example, Ashkenazim perforce bought all their grain and flour from non-Jews (since they couldn’t be farmers), but apparently, they knew that there was no kashrut risk with pure, unadulterated flour.

    The same principle would in theory apply today. The only difference is that modern manufacturing is so much more complex than premodern manufacturing. It used to be that everything you bought was mostly pure and unprocessed, at least relatively speaking, whereas everything today is processed out the wazoo. A factory mashgiah nowadays has to have a degree in food science and sometimes even one in engineering as well, so that he can analyze the factory’s production line and equipment. So things are more complex today, but the same basic principle applies: you do not need a hekhsher unless there’s a concern.

    Pure, unprocessed foods are an obvious example of things that don’t need heksherim. Pure, unprocessed fruits and vegetables and nuts pose no problem whatsoever. (You might have to check for insects, of course, but that’s something else.) For example, unshelled peanuts are perfectly kosher without a hekhsher, and they only need a hekhsher once you start removing them from their shells and adding salt and honey and all that.

    Or tea, for example: pure teas do not need a hekhsher, and neither do “standard” classic flavored teas, like Earl Grey or jasmine, or any other standardized flavor in which you know exactly what it is made with. The hekhsher companies have investigated the tea factories and found that as long as the company is a reputable and trustworthy one that isn’t breaking the law, that Earl Grey tea (made with the oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit) and jasmine tea (made by blowing hot air over jasmine petals, so that the hot air is infused with jasmine flavor and imparts the flavor to the tea leaves) is perfectly kosher without a heksher. I called up someone at the Star-K in Baltimore, and asked him whether Genmai-Chai, a Japanese green tea (sencha or bancha) with roasted brown rice was alright without a hekhsher, and he said that yes, it was, because the rice used was pure rice, and the cooking utensils were used with nothing else (any meats or oils would destroy the tea flavor, and so it’s in the company’s own interest to make sure that nothing but rice and tea touches their equipment). However, special exotic “flavored” teas that are not ordinary flavored ones (such as Earl Grey and jasmine) do in fact require a hekhsher.

    The Star-K has a wide selection of articles telling you what need a heksher and what doesn’t – see the list here. I am relying on their article about tea (here), for example. One must-read article of theirs is an article about Pesah, But What Could Be the Problem With….

  11. > But I remember learning that if you have the
    > choice between buying a kosher brand and a
    > regular store brand, you are supposed to
    > choose the kosher brand and give the money
    > to a fellow Jew.

    I have two reservations about this:

    (1) If the food doesn’t need a heksher, then why should I support the insane humra’ization of Orthodoxy? I’m almost tempted to buy davka (precisely, specifically) the <un-hekshered product, just so that I can thumb my nose at humrayut. If the food does require a hekhsher, well, then the entire issue is moot, and I must perforce purchase the hekhshered product.

    (2) I’m a bit reluctant to direct my money specifically to the Jews. According to the shita of Rabbi Menahem ha-Meiri, righteous gentiles are technically “our brothers in Torah and mitzvot” – yes, he declares G-d-fearing and morally-decent Christians and Muslims to be “our brothers in Torah and mitzvot” – I’m not kidding!! Presumably, this means that the mitzvah of ve’ahavta l’reakhah kamokhah (love your neighbor as yourself) applies to righteous gentiles just the same as it does to Jews, and when the Gemara said that mitzvah applies only to Jews, it was only because back then the gentiles were all idolatrous immoral pagans, and there wasn’t such a thing as a G-d-fearing gentile, except for the rare Noahide. (At one time, approximately 10% of the citizens of the city of Rome were G-d-fearing Noahide gentiles, but relatively soon, anti-Jewish legislation silenced this population, and in any case, the number of Noahides throughout the Roman and Persian empires was quite miniscule.) The Meiri’s shita has been pasqened as halakhah l’ma’aseh by Rabbis S. R. Hirsch, Yehiel Weinberg, D. Z. Hoffman (all three from Germany), Isaac Herzog (of Britain and later the Chief Rabbi of Israel), A. I. Kook (the famous Zionist and Chief Rabbi of Mandate Palestine), Ahron Soloveichik (the brother of the famous “Rav”, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik), and Haim David Halevi (arguably the greatest Judeo-Spanish Sephardi rabbi of recent times, the student of Rabbi Benzion Uziel, arguably the greatest Judeo-Spanish Sephardi rabbi of his time). Given that righteous gentiles are apparently nowadays our “brothers in Torah and mitzvot“, I’m reluctant to go out of my way to direct my money to Jews instead of gentiles. This is especially because this would quite possibly constitute a hillul hashem; too many people – whether Jews or gentiles, Orthodox Jews or non-observant Jews – wrongly believe that Judaism (or at least Orthodox Judaism) teaches hatred of the gentile. I’d be very reluctant to go out of my way to purchase a Jewish product where I would have otherwise purchased the non-Jewish one, lest someone mistakenly believe that I have any dislike for gentiles. I’ve heard far too many Orthodox Jews speak disparagingly of gentiles, with disgusting language that is rivaled only by that used about blacks by Klan members, and I do not want to do anything to strengthen them (the Orthodox Jewish anti-gentile bigots) in their reprehensible and horrid beliefs.

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