Monday, December 24, 2007

Hashgachas Chinam?

Last week, I ran into a friend of mine, a well known Brooklyn rabbi, at a supermarket.

"Wolf," he called over to me. "Take a look at this." He handed me a package of barley (ordinary, plain, barley -- not egg barley or anything that was otherwise processed). He showed me that the package had two hashgachos (kosher certifications) -- one by the OU and the other by a chassidishe rav. He then turned the package over and showed me that it stated on it "Not checked for bugs."

OK, if it's not checked for bugs, then why do we need the hechsher to begin with? And not one, but two!!

The Wolf

9 comments:

LakewoodShmuck said...

al pi shnai aidim yakum davar!

the hechsher just tells you here that its truely not processed. bugs can get in in the suprmarket after being checked ...

BrooklynWolf said...

The fact that it said "not checked for bugs" didn't bother me... I understand that the package can be exposed after it leaves the factory.

However, you can tell just by looking at it that it's not processed.

And lastly, aid echad ne'eman b'issurim (one witness is believed for ordinary prohibitions)... or do you refuse to eat the dinner your wife cooks unless she has another witness that it was all cooked properly?

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

As someone who's worked in the food industry for a long time, I can tell you that infestation can occur anywhere along the line and can be undetectable. All it takes is one itty bitty egg mixed in with the bulk to lead to infestation. Other then irradiating or toxic gassing to the point that the food it self is denatured, it's next to impossible to guarantee this stuff 100%

Rafi G said...

some people cannot be trusted. at all. if they tell you it is daytime, you have to look out the window to make sure of it.
so, for those who do not trust the OU, they need their own hechsher. For most people the OU is good enough.
And they do not trust themselves and their own eyes because ,"What do I know? I am not a rabbi? kashrus is very complicated.."

SephardiLady said...

Plain Barley with two certifications. What does that run?

Zach Kessin said...

Many years ago I was at a Chabad house and they had a bottle of water on the table, It had a OU and a KVH (Boston Va'ad) I thought that was rather silly so I asked the rabbi if water even needed one, he said he didn't think so. Its *WATER* after all

Ha-historion said...

I guess my goyish friends are right; kosher means the food was blessed by a Rabbi...

Nice Jewish Guy said...

I can tell you this from acquaintances in the food industry: most issues with hechsherim are political.

aryeh-baltimore said...

I'm not a hashgacha snob--I keep by the Eidlitz list. But I had a friend get married, and the hall would not accept O-U without investigating the product (it was a chassidishe hall). Turns out the candy he had bought for favors with an O-U was unauthorized by the O-U, so they were right to be suspicious.

I took a class in college on the kashrus industry. O-U is the most common hashgacha out there, and non-Jewish manufacturing companies oftentimes copy standard graphics from one package to another, not understanding what every symbol means. After the fact, the O-U can demand it be removed, but oftentimes people have already bought it. Perfect example--my professor (Joe Regenstein) told us that a Chinese company wanted to package and sell clams in America like sardines. So they studied the sardine package and copied it exactly, right down to the O-U (which almost every sardine has). So, while the O-U had the legal right to demand it be removed, there were sardines in supermarkets with O-U hashgacha! So I can see why someone might want 2 certifications--1 that is universally recognized, and another that is more specifically targeted to a community.

As to water and plain barley--there is so much processing done today to innocuous foods, that it can just be convenience thing. Instead of having to make sure it's not some new flavored water or barley with some additive to prevent spoilage, the hashgacha tells you. Otherwise, you stand there for 10 minutes figuring out what the heck you are holding.