Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Keeping Kosher

Keeping Kosher
By: Rabbi Don Yoel Levy
In one of our recent articles we mentioned an issue concerning the ingredient called whey. We would like to elaborate on this topic and some other topics which are offshoots of this.
Whey is a by-product of cheese.
Cheese is produced by separating the solids from milk with the use of starter cultures. The starter culture causes the milk to ferment and the casein is precipitated. These solids are then solidified with the use of various coagulants and sometimes flavored with enzymes.
These coagulants are traditionally made from the abomasum of the suckling calf (Merck-Index #8003). Consequently use of this ingredient will affect the Kashrus of the cheese and its by-products.
Today there are available synthetic coagulants which are Kosher approved.
After the solids have been separated the liquid remaining is called whey.
Of the total milk approximately 10% is used for cheese so that 90% is left.
If all ingredients used in the cheese production are Kosher the whey can be considered Kosher (albeit not for Cholov Yisroel use).
Hard cheese itself must be produced only with the observant Jew present who will participate in the actual production of the cheese.
In some instances the cheese is cooked and then the cooked water is added back to the whey stream for further processing.
This is quite prevalent in Mozzarella production where the cheese is cooked and stretched. As such the water that the non-kosher mozzarella is cooked in is considered non-kosher. Consequently the whey which contains the cooked water would be problematic.
The Kashrus agencies in the U.S.A. were recently confronted with the situation. We, at the OK, were the pioneers in this field and succeeded together with the able assistance of Kraft General Foods to find a method to divert the non-Kosher cooked water from the Kosher whey stream.
Eventually, the other Kashrus agencies followed in our footsteps. This cooked water from the cheese or also non-Kosher whey is sometimes added back to cream used for butter production. Whereas, until now, butter was considered Group 1 (intrinsically Kosher) and no checking was needed, we now discover that butter certified as Kosher does indeed contain questionable ingredients. We hope the situation is being rectified.
Another ingredient we would like to discuss is Citric Acid. This is produced by fermenting crude sugars with Aspergillus Niger.
The above mentioned carbohydrates can be of wheat, corn or regular sugar source. If it comes from wheat of corn it would be problematic for Passover.
As Citric Acid is quite popular in the food industry - tens of thousands of tons are used annually _ a source that would be Kosher for Passover is quite in demand.
For years the Rabbis have been lenient with the use of Citric Acid produced from corn. The severity of corn usage on Passover is much less than wheat usage which is strictly forbidden - even in the minutest amount - on Passover.
Since the Citric Acid is the result of a chemical changeover from the original corn some prominent Rabbis permitted its use on Passover. However, the trend recently has been to observe more stringently to the letter of the law so a demand has arisen for a 100% Kosher for Passover Citric Acid produced from sugar.
As a side note, alcohol fermented from corn is not accepted as a Kosher for Passover ingredient, as is Citric Acid, even though the chemical changeover is identical.
We, at the OK, have been successful, thank G-d, in helping make available a 100% Kosher for Passover Citric Acid from sugar. This comes from Sucromilles in Cali, Colombia (a Haarmann & Reimer affiliate) and is marketed by Haarmann & Reimer in the U.S.A.
They also have available for Passover the following chemicals:
Sodium CitrateTri-Calcium CitrateResidual Fuse Oil, naturalIso-Amyl Alcohol, naturalAcetic Acid, naturalEthyl Acetate, naturalIso-Amyl Acetate, naturalEthyl Alcohol
All of the above are important chemicals used in the flavor industry and are not usually readily available for Passover in their natural state.
A bright point in Group 1 development is the removal of Citric Acid from Group 1 by one major Kashrus organization. We hope all other groups will move in their direction.
Another ingredient considered Group 1 Kosher pareve is cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is the fat naturally found in chocolate and sold as a separate item. One such product bearing a Pareve label was found to be produced on the same equipment as dairy ingredients.
Since the OK assumed certification of this product we changed the designation to OK Dairy.
We pray to the Almighty to help us continue to provide new reliable Kosher ingredients for the consumer public.

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