OU Top 10 Questions 2013
July 02, 2013
OU PRESENTS RECENT QUESTIONS
These questions are answered by Rabbi Benjamin Geiger, the voice of OU Kosher’s Consumer Hotline; the OU’s Webbe Rebbe; and Rabbi Eli Eleff, rabbinic coordinator and consumer relations administrator. Rabbi Moshe Zywica, OU Kosher executive rabbinic coordinator, supervises the OU Consumer Relations Department. The responses were reviewed by Rabbi Yaakov Luban, OU Kosher executive rabbinic coordinator; and Rabbi Eli Gersten, rabbinic coordinator and halachic recorder.
Q: May we eat ice cream or yoghurt served in a store that also serves products that are not Kosher certified?
A: Although the foods are certified Kosher, the certification can not extend beyond the moment the seals are broken. The obvious risk is, has the scoop been contaminated with non-certified flavours?
The OU avoids giving a clear answer but see this, permitting Slurpees where there is cross contamination from dairy or non-Kosher certified product.
Q: Can I drink coffee at a non-certified restaurant?
A: The equipment used to prepare the coffee may be washed in a dish washer with non-kosher items. This does not necessarily render them non-Kosher, it depends upon whether soap was used; the temperature of the water; the dishwasher system (Keli Rishon or Keli Sheni)
In general, the OU does not recommend drinking coffee prepared in a non-kosher restaurant.
Q: May we drink coffee from convenience stores, rest stops, and kiosks without certification?
A: Yes. Unflavoured coffee from these places may be assumed to be Kosher without compromise since these establishments generally do not prepare non-kosher food, or, even if they do, dishes and utensils are washed by hand in a sink and not in a dishwasher.
Q: May we eat Slurpees?
A: Two things must be verified: Is the syrup Kosher certified? This must be determined by checking for the Kosher tags, sometimes displayed on the slurpee machine, or the label on the syrup box which may carry a Kosher logo. The OU Kosher office can be contacted at 212-613-8241.
The Coca-Cola Freestyle machines (also called 100 Flavours of Coke in Canada) are OU certified in the United States and Canada.
Q: How long must one wait after eating cheese before eating meat?
A: After eating 6 month aged cheese, one must wait six hours before eating meat.
Q: May a BBQ be used for both meat and fish?
A: The Gemara (Pesachim 76b) teaches that it is a Sakana (danger) to eat fish and meat together. As it is extremely difficult to clean a grill, the same grill rack should not be used for meat and fish. Either the fish should be double wrapped in aluminium foil or separate grill racks should be used.
Q: May we use a BBQ that was previously used for non-Kosher food such as BBQ’s at parks and campsites? Also, can an outdoor gas or charcoal grill be Kashered?
A: Since food is roasted directly on the grill, the grate must be replaced, or heated until it glows (libun gomur) to be properly Kashered. This can be done either with a blowtorch (which should only be used by qualified and experienced individuals) or by sandwiching the grates between charcoal briquettes and setting them on fire.
If the grill has a hood, it too must be Kashered by cleaning, closing the hood and setting it to the highest setting for one hour (libun kal).
Q: Can in-room hotel ovens or microwaves be used without Kashering?
A: It is possible to use a non-kosher microwave or oven by double wrapping the food item. When using a microwave, a small hole MUST be made to allow the steam to escape and prevent an explosion.
Q: Is it possible to obtain hot, kosher meals on a cruise ship?
A: The only practical option for hot meals on a non-kosher cruise ship is to eat certified pre-packaged meals that are double wrapped, such as those found on airplanes. These may be heated in any oven as long as the seals are intact and the package remains closed. (There are other halachic concerns that arise on a cruise ship pertaining to Shabbat that have not been addressed here. Please ask your rabbi for guidance.)
Q: Is it permissible to take antihistamines without certification?
A: First, please remember, that anyone with a life-threatening condition should take whatever medicines are necessary without hesitation. In general, tablets are preferable to liquid medications which may contain problematic ingredients. If no tablet alternative is available, the liquid should be diluted in water, juice or any liquid by a ratio of one to six, which is one ounce of liquid to one teaspoon of medication. This ratio should be done only in consultation with your doctor.