Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Surprise! ‘Häagen-Dazs not kosher’
Stores that continue to sell the ice cream could lose their kashrut license.
The bad news in Israel keeps piling up. Religious tensions, Iran’s nuclear program and regional instability are all worrying enough – but now Häagen-Dazs ice cream in Israel is under threat, and may become a rarity on supermarket shelves.
According to a recent kashrut update from the Chief Rabbinate, Häagen-Dazs is not approved by the State Rabbinical Authority, and stores and outlets with kashrut certification that continue to sell the ice cream could lose their kashrut license.
In an update sent by the rabbinate on Sunday, the kashrut department said that because Häagen-Dazs is made with unsupervised liquid milk, as opposed to milk powder, the marketing and sale of the ice cream in establishments and outlets with kashrut certification is not acceptable and constitutes “a severe infringement of kashrut procedures.”
“We request from those providing kashrut certificates not to permit the sale of this product in places with [kashrut] supervision,” the notice read. “One should not take into account the opinion of kashrut advisers in this matter who request to continue selling this product, and if the management of any chain insists on selling them it is possible that ‘kashrut [license] withdrawal’ may be enacted against them, according to the law.”
Milk produced by non-Jews without Jewish supervision was forbidden by the sages of the Talmud due to a concern that it may be adulterated with milk from a non-kosher animal.
Although arbiters of Jewish law, in particular Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (1895- 1986), have permitted the consumption of unsupervised milk if supervised milk is significantly more expensive or unavailable, it is seen as a less ideal, and the kashrut authorities in Israel do not permit kosher certificates to be issued for products using unsupervised milk.
Powdered milk from an unsupervised source is, however, permitted according to a ruling of Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank (1873–1960), a former chief rabbi of Jerusalem, who held that there is less of a suspicion that someone will go to the bother of adulterating powdered milk.
Others, however, still forbid unsupervised powdered milk.
The timing of the rabbinate’s notice is unclear. Although Rafi Yochai of the rabbinate’s kashrut division stated the notice about Häagen Dazs has been issued several times, General Mills Israel said the ice cream has always been produced with liquid milk.
“Abroad they have different considerations,” said Yochai. “There, the majority of milk is unsupervised so there’s less choice.
But here, we are living in Eretz Hakodesh [the Holy Land], the majority of the milk produced is supervised, so there’s less reason to permit these products,” he said.
“There’s enough choice here that we don’t need to rely on this leniency,” Yohai added.
Asked what Häagen-Dazs lovers should do instead, he replied, “Love God more than ice-cream.”
General Mills, which markets Häagen-Dazs in Israel, underlined that the ice cream bears kosher certification from the Orthodox Union in the US and pointed out that it is “consumed by the religious and sec ular communities in Israel and abroad.”
“Super-premium Häagen-Dazs ice cream is made from liquid milk, which provides for an outstanding level of quality in the texture and taste of the product,” the company added as an aside.
The OU said in response to the rabbinate notice that it continues to give a kashrut certification to Häagen-Dazs “in line with the ruling of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein for people who are not particular about consuming only supervised milk.”