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Friday, April 6, 2012

New California rule makes kosher Coca-Cola scarce at Passover

California - State environmental regulations have cut the flow of Passover Coca-Cola to local supermarket shelves, store owners and a spokesman for the soft drink maker said Thursday.

Coca Cola is not offering the beverage in California because a new alternative-process caramel to meet state guidelines does not meet Passover requirements, said Coca-Cola spokesman Bob Phillips.

“We will not be able to offer kosher for Passover products in California this year,” Phillips said.

“We do, however, expect to offer Kosher for Passover products in 2013,” Phillips said.

Coca Cola recently announced it has asked its caramel manufacturers to modify their production process to reduce the amount of 4-MEI, which was added last year to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer.

A requirement that warning labels must be put on products containing a certain level of 4-MEI went into effect this year, said Sam Delson, deputy director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

But it hasn’t stopped some stores from acquiring it from other states.

An employee at Cambridge Farms, a kosher supermarket in the San Fernando Valley, said they are carrying Passover Coke shipped in from New York. However, the store ran out of the Passover Diet Coke several days ago and hasn't been able to get any more, he said.

Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Greater San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, said it was disappointing that Jews in the community couldn't get something that has been available before.

"I think it would be wonderful for the community to be able to drink a Coke and have a smile," he said.

But he noted that particularly in the San Gabriel Valley, whatever Passover products are offered is "wonderful because people don't have to schlep all over to find things."

Rabbi Chaim Hanoka, director of Chabad of Pasadena, said he was surprised but not disappointed by the news.

Jews traditionally avoid yeast and other fermented grains during the holiday, which commemorates the Israelite's freedom from Egyptian bondage. But his family also doesn't use soda or other processed foods on Passover, with the exception of matzoh and wine.

"I wouldn't have looked for it in the store either way," he said.

Source:  San Gabriel Valley Tribune

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