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The Kashrut Chemist’s Challenges
by Kasriel Oliver
Many people cannot conceive of the types of challenges encountered when we audit processed food manufacturing, with the aim of maintaining or initiating kosher status. Here are some examples of challenges we face:
The Natural Flavour Challenge
‘We will start using ‘natural flavour’ in the ‘Tomato Paste with Garlic and Herbs’ next month. Is that ok?’ says Production Manager to Kasriel Oliver. Then the guy adds ‘don’t worry Rabbi, here’s the recipe, and ‘natural flavour’ is the new ingredient. On the label it’s also listed as ‘natural flavour’ my friend.’
On further investigation and assessment the natural flavour turns out to be chicken powder!
The Meat/Milk Challenge
Kasriel Oliver visits a major sauce manufacturer: ‘Oh Mr Oliver, I have a new product – it is ‘cooking sauce’ – it is especially useful as a sauce for cooking meat. No meat in the sauce.’ But on further inspection of the recipe of the sauce, there is a cream in the sauce! Not really the sauce you want in a kosher kitchen for cooking meat!
The Mincer Challenge
Some people still make the non-kosher judgement call of reading the product label and figuring out for themselves if the product is kosher. The shopper in the supermarket said to me ‘what could be wrong with this ‘pizza sauce’? I like the fact that the ingredients label states ‘fresh minced onions’. I wouldn’t want dehydrated onion flakes or any processed onions!’ So, looking at the pizza sauce in her hand, I tell her that it’s not kosher. I recall that the onion mincer at that sauce factory is also used to mince meat! The manufacturer makes processed meat products in the factory next door...
The Contract Packer Challenge
Do you think that food manufacturers always make their products at their own factory? Not necessarily – they can get the product made and canned at another company’s factory. One canned vegetable company had one of their canned vegetable products made for them by contract with a kosher-certified producer. No problems for many years! But then, lo and behold, after so many years, the company changed to a different contract packer for the canned vegies. The new contract packer was certainly not kosher certified. The ‘brine solution’, which was put into the cans of vegetables at the new contract packer, was heated up and cooked up in the large vats that also cooked bacon and other meat products! And no kashering of the vats took place!
At Kosher Australia we deal with the challenges – please be careful when shopping for food and drinks. And let us declare this Shabbat ‘Chazak, Chazak, Venitchazeik’. Be strong, be strong, and let’s be strong!