Use of Basic Pesach Food Products That Have No Suspicion of Chametz or are Without a “Kosher for Pesach” Label –
& Products That Contain Kitniyot Ingredients
Rabbi David Stav, Chairman, Tzohar
Rabbi Oren Duvdevani, Director of Tzohar Kashrut Project
Kashrut of Products for Pesach That Have No Suspicion of Chametz
There is an underlying question of whether we need to be concerned about the presence of chametz in basic products that don’t have a “Kosher for Pesach’ label. The poskim are divided on whether there is such a suspicion because of the existence of specific products (like honey during times when there was a custom to include flour) and whether we therefore prohibit all such products because of those concerns.
The Shulchan Aruch was lenient in these matters while the Rama took the stricter position.
That being said, according to all opinions it would be permitted to purchase products where there is NO fear of chametz being included as an ingredient (like dried fruits that are known to have been dried with no chametz agents.)
This ruling is the same even if the products hadn’t been observed throughout the production and packaging phases. This is the case for many basic ingredients and products on the market today. We live in an era where hygiene and sanitary standards in food production can be highly trusted so when we are talking about these products (like Olive Oil, Coffee, Tea, Salt, Honey and Sugar) there use can be permitted if it is a closed container that hasn’t been opened before Pesach even if it isn’t labeled as ‘Kosher for Pesach.’
We also don’t need to be concerned that chametz was produced on the same production line. While in general Pesach products are typically produced on equipment that has been specially kashered for that purpose, in practice product lines of products that don’t have chametz are used only for that purpose and there are no remnants of chametz on the equipment.
Milk and Eggs
The poskim are divided on whether we can drink milk extracted from a cow that had eaten chametz on Pesach. As such milk in Israel only comes from dairies that don’t feed their cows chametz over Pesach. If the milk was extracted before Pesach there is no issue. This is the same rule for eggs that were bought before Pesach and are permitted even if the chickens were eating chametz. Over Pesach itself it is best to avoid purchasing eggs from chickens who are eating chametz during the Chag itself. In the past there was concern over the ink that was stamped on the eggs that it contained chametz. Nowadays that concern has been addressed and the stamps are chametz-free.
Meat, Poultry and Fish
The question over these products is similar to that of milk. For several weeks, and even months in many cases, the shechita process has taken place in facilities that have been cleaned for Pesach. So even if the animals had been consuming chametz products, there is no issue with using these products. In the past, there were concerns over wheat germ that was found in chickens but today the poultry raising process has changed so that this no longer an issue.
Pesach Kashrut for Ashkenazim for Products That Are Labeled ‘L’Ochlei Kitniyot’
A large number of products (particularly in Israel) are labeled as being permitted for those who eat Kitniyot which raises the question ‘Are all these products really prohibited for Ashkenazim or can some of them still be used?’
From the outset, it’s important to acknowledge that the prohibition on kitniyot is in the realm of ‘minhag’ and not as a halachic prohibition. As such, the poskim are more likely to be lenient on questions that arise regarding this practice. Based on this understanding, the Rama wrote that if kitniyot has been unintentionally mixed into a dish it does not render it prohibited and the Mishna Berura explains that the dish is acceptable as long as the kitniyot aren’t the majority and that the kitniyot ingredients aren’t identifiable to the extent that they can be removed from the dish. When kitniyot are a critical ingredient or when their taste can be recognized (as is the case with corn syrups that are found in many soft drinks and processed juices) the poskim are divided whether this is a problem – but there is room for leniency.
The poskim are also divided on the question whether this ruling is only if kitniyot were added inadvertently or if they can included intentionally as an ingredient. If the preparation was done before Pesach and if it was intended to benefit people who are permitted to eat Kitniyot, then there is room for leniency.
There is also a widely- known opinion that the issue of kitniyot is only problematic when the kitniyot come into contact with water. This is important in permitting products like Soybean Oil which is processed without any water and therefore wouldn’t be prohibited by the custom.
Another room for leniency in recognizing that many problematic kitniyot products have their form changed so significantly during the production process that the originally problematic product would no longer be recognized. If their form is changed – like from a solid to a liquid or into a powder or crystal form- then this change considerably reduces the ‘kitniyot factor’ and therefore the custom would not relate to these products.
In addition there are various products where the poskim debate whether they are in fact considered kitniyot like peanuts, canola, soy and cotton extracts.
Products Where There Is Room for Leniency for Pesach 2020
Based on the discussion above, it is apparent that many products can be used for Pesach even if they aren’t labeled as ‘Kosher for Pesach,’ and even Ashkenazim can use many products that re labeled as ‘Only for Those Who Eat Kitniyot’.
However it is important to know that modern food production relies on many raw materials that may contain chametz or other prohibited products and therefore someone who is not deeply familiar with the process cannot determine its status based on reading the ingredients alone.
The following products can be used for Pesach if they are in a closed package:
- Fresh and Frozen Fish
- Fresh and Frozen Meat (not including chopped meat, kebabs or hamburgers or hotdogs)
- Fresh and Frozen Poultry
- Canola and Olive Oil (including for Ashkenazim), Soybean Oil and Corn Syrup/Oil (for Sephardim)
- Frozen vegetables. For Sephardim this includes Frozen Corn and Peas
- Coffee (including capsules), Tea (Dark, White, Green but NOT flavored fruit or floral teas), Cocoa and Dark Chocolate.
- Meat products that say ‘For Those Who Eat Kitniyot’, because the kitniyot are the minority product they can be consumed even by Ashkenazim.
- Milk that doesn’t require refrigeration (Chalav Amid), Butter, Yellow Cheeses labeled as ‘permissible for those who eat Kitniyot’ are allowed even for Ashkenazim, as well as all other dairy products and candies.
- Salt and Sugar
- Dried ‘Kitniyot’ (for Sephardim). Those who eat Kitniyot on Pesach can purchase dry ingredients (like rice, lentils, etc.) without it needing to say Kosher for Pesach but the products MUST be checked before Pesach to ensure there are no chametz grains mixed in.
- Canned Tuna in Water or Olive Oil (for Ashkenazim) or vegetable oil (for Sephardim.)
- Smoked Salmon
- Processed Techina (Sephardim)
- All Kosher Wines can be considered kosher for Pesach.
- Vineger extracted from wine; Apple Vinegar, Balsamic Vinegar (Vegetable Vinegars must be labeled as Kosher for Pesach.)
- Preserved Lemon Juice