[Avodah] Lecithin in Chocolate KLP

Kenneth Miller kennethgmiller at juno.com
Sat Mar 16 19:35:30 PDT 2013

R' Zev Sero wrote:
> The problem is that it was added deliberately....

R' Micha Berger wrote:
> If non-Jews make a product for reasons other than the Jewish
> market, it's not attempting bitul "issur" lekhat-chilah. It's
> not considered deliberate.

Aaahhh! Now I understand R' Meir Rabi's question much more clearly.

I would now like to share some ideas which were discussed here some time ago, quite possibly before RMR joined us. What I write below is not to be construed as halacha that I've ever heard from anyone, but merely the consensus of ideas and observations expressed by some listmembers, as *I* understood it. Namely, that there is a difference in kashrus between the terms "supervised" and "approved".

"Supervised" means that there is a contract between the manufacturer and the rabbi(s); among the terms of that contract is the ability for the rabbi(s) to conduct inspections, an obligation for the manufacturer to inform the rabbi(s) of any ingredient changes, and similar conditions. This is generally the situation whenever you see a hechsher on a package, even for a hechsher that you might consider to be far substandard.

"Approved" kashrus is very different, and of a very informal nature. It is very common in other countries, but not so much in the USA. In these situations, there is no formal agreement between the manufacturer and the Jewish community at all, but the manufacturer allows rabbis to visit and inspect the facilities. Based on what the rabbis find, they may conclude that the products are kosher, and they'll make a list of these "approved" products for their followers. The manufacturers may - of the goodness of their hearts - alert the rabbis to any changes that they might make, but there's no obligation to do so.

As I recall the conversations here on Avodah, we concluded that there is a great deal of flexibility in the "approved" situations, and I think that RMR's example of lecithin in chocolate might be a great example of it. Lecithin in chocolate is NOT like rennet in cheese or gelatin in jello. The chocolate will be fine without it, although it might turn grey a bit sooner, and perhaps even that can be compensated for with other ingredients, but if the manufacturer is a non-Jew, who is making his product for non-Jews, who are we to tell him not to put it in? And once he *has* added it in, we are in an after-the-fact reality, and the halacha is clear that we can eat it with no worries, exactly as RMR suggests.

But, our discussion said, this only applies to "approved" products, not to "supervised" products. Given the sort of contractual terms which exist between the manufacturer and the Jews in *this* paradigm, it is very difficult to call the addition of lecithin "after-the-fact", if for no other reason than the fact that the manufacturer must submit a list of ingredients, and the hechsher will be on the label only if the rabbis approve that list BEFORE-the-fact.

Imagine that you are the machshir, and a manufacturer wants your Pesach symbol on his packages of chocolate, and he shows you the list of ingredients, which includes lecithin. What do you tell him? If you tell him, "This recipe is fine," is that really after-the-fact?

Let me be very clear: If he makes it on his own initiative, I'm not saying that we shouldn't eat it. All I'm questioning is how we can allow him to deliberately do so and then market it to Jews with our symbol on the package.

Actions have consequences. Our refusal to allow that manufacturer to have a hechsher l'chatchila has led many people to think that such products are to be avoided even b'dieved. This is very unfortunate. But it is also reality, and I'm not sure how else to deal with it.

There was a time, only a few decades ago, when "approved" products were fairly common in America. Every so often, some rabbis -- I wish I knew who -- inspected the factories of Kellogg's cereal, and let us know which products were acceptable, such as the Corn Flake Crumbs used by every heimishe take-out store on their coated chicken. I remember Dannon yogurt and Hershey's chocolate similarly for year-round use, and Tropicana orange juice even for Pesach.

But for whatever reason, people grew dissatisfied with this level of kashrus. Rightly or wrongly, some perceived it as deliberately relying on b'dieved halacha. And so it came to pass that Kellogg's and Dannon and Hershey's and Tropicana sought out a regular hashgacha.

To my knowledge, we're now at a point in the NY-NJ area where there are no "approved" foods which are eaten without knowledge of the ingredients, based purely on unofficial inquiries and spot-checks, except for liquor. - And even that seems to be changing, as I have seen a great many of them get a regular hechsher in recent years.

Getting back to the issue at hand, R' Meir Rabi asked:

> Can anyone explain why chocolate with lecithin is a problem
> during Pesach?
> Even if lecithin is Kitniyos, it is not a majority of the
> chocolate, it is not visible to the naked eye and it is not
> added for the express purpose of making a KLP product?

If such chocolate is purchased before Pesach, maybe it is NOT a problem. I will cite a few quotes from pp 92-93 of this year's "OU Guide to Passover, available at http://oukosher.org/passover/passover-guide/

> Lactaid production is likely to involve chametz. This renders
> chewable lactaid tablets problematic. However, our Rabbinical
> authorities have decided that lactaid milk is permissible if
> purchased before Passover since any chametz contained within
> Lactaid milk would be nullified (batel).

And that's for an ingredient which is probably actual chametz, not merely kitniyos!

> Soy Milk - Anyone for whom it is necessary to consume kitniyot
> may drink these products. However, because we are unable to
> verify the kosher for Passover status of the equipment on which
> they are produced, we recommend purchasing these items before
> Passover, at which point any traces of chametz would be batel
> (nullified).

Another example of bitul on actual chometz, if any.

> Although plain whole, low-fat and skim milk (fresh—not long
> shelf-life) may be purchased before Passover without special
> certification, it is proper not to purchase it during
> Passover unless reliably certified for Passover.

This is despite the presence of Vitamin D and other additives. And note that it is for anyone, not just people who "need" Lactaid or soy milk.

So it seems to me that the practice of relying on bittul has not been totally lost, not even today, not even in the USA, and not even for Pesach.

Akiva Miller
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