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KASHRUS MAGAZINE
2006 Kosher Supervision Guide
Kashrus Magazine's Guide to the 782 Kosher Symbols and Agencies Worldwide
2006 Kosher Supervision Guide
Plus: Kosher in Dallas, Fancy Kosher Foods, Slurpee/Bevergage Updates, How to Ask Questions, Obesity

How To Ask A Kashrus Question -

An exhausted mother walks through the aisles of a crowded supermarket with her little boy. From his lofty position in the front of the shopping cart, he reaches for a box of “Super Crunchy Fruit Bombs” breakfast cereal. She decides to invest $4 in the spirit of keeping her son a contented child. <br /> When Mother returns home and unpacks the bags, she realizes that the cereal has a hashgacha on it that she is not familiar with. Perhaps her family uses only guaranteed yoshon products and the package does not indicate the yoshon status. Or it may be that the package was marked “Pareve” with a disclaimer at the end of the ingredient panel: “May Contain Dairy Ingredients”. How can it be pareve, if it may contain dairy ingredients? What should she do? Should she ask her neighbor? Should she just return the product? <br /> The best way to acquire reliable information is to contact the kosher supervising agency that gives the hashgacha. But what should she say when she calls? The following guide will provide some help for your own calls to the kashrus agencies, whatever your question is.<br /> 1. What’s The Question?<br /> Generally, there are three types of questions to ask of a kashrus agency: A) Questions regarding specific products B) Questions about the agency’s policies and C) Questions involving general halacha. The following are some examples of each type:<br /> A. Specific Product Questions:<br /> Why does a particular product have a dairy designation? Is it due to dairy ingredients, flavors made with dairy components, or is it manufactured on dairy equipment? <br /> A certain product used to always be sold with the kosher symbol on the packaging and this time it did not have the kosher symbol, why is that?<br /> Is this product pas yisroel?<br /> Is this product made under conditions that would make it bishul yisroel for Sefardim?<br /> B. Policy Questions:<br /> Does your organization require bishul yisroel for potato chips or canned vegetables, parboiled rice, fish sticks, hot dogs, etc.? <br /> Is the yoshon status indicated on the product part of your organization’s kosher supervision, or is it the manufacturer’s own self-declaration? <br /> C. Halachic Questions: <br /> (Please note that although kashrus agencies may try to help you with an individual situation, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of fostering a relationship with your local rabbi.)<br /> Is bishul yisroel a stringency or is it the halacha?<br /> Is a company owned and operated by a gentile required to separate challah?<br /> What is the halachic basis for not requiring a mashgiach temidi for certain products?<br /> Do companies owned and operated by gentiles need to kasher their utensils if they have not been used for 24 hours (as they are called eino ben yomo)?<br /> Can one buy fish without any skin on the fillet?<br /> 2. Prepare Before the Call<br /> The key to receiving the information you need is to prepare what you are asking. Clarification and focus of the question will assist the one who is responding.<br /> A. If it’s a specific product question:<br /> Have the product available before calling. In order to answer your question, the kashrus agency might need information that can be found only on the particular container. Can codes, production information, and sell-by dates can sometimes tell more about the kosher status of a product than the product and brand names.<br /> If the actual product is not available to you while making the call, record the following information from the label: exact product name, exact name of manufacturer, exact brand name, Dairy/Pareve status.<br /> Know the name and address of the store where the product was purchased. Particularly if the question is whether or not a product is kosher-certified, kashrus agencies often need to know where they can purchase the product for further investigation, to ask the proprietor to remove the product from sale, or warn consumers not to purchase a particular product.<br /> B. For policy and halachic questions:<br /> Whenever possible, try to familiarize yourself with the relevant halachos before asking about the agency’s policies. Try to first learn the various opinions on a certain issue, and whether something is considered required or is a stringency (chumra). <br /> Note: Be sure you are calling the correct agency. <br /> Every agency is the most qualified to answer questions about the products which they themselves certify. Though other agencies can often answer generic questions about how a product is made, the certifying agency should be consulted about specific product or production inquiries. <br /> 3. If you Need to Leave a Message… <br /> Regardless of the type of question being posed,<br /> A. Leave clear call back information<br /> Make sure to state your name and phone number loudly and clearly. If you are calling an agency in another time zone, you might mention the difference in time zones. This might prevent an eager kosher supervisor from returning a West Coast phone call first thing in the morning, when his caller is likely still asleep. A good tip is to slowly repeat your name, phone number and a brief description of the question at the end of your message.<br /> B. Avoid leaving generic “please call back” messages<br /> Often the answer to your question will require research on behalf of the agency. By leaving the appropriate details during your initial call, you will save the agency from the extra step of having to call back and get that information. For specific product questions, “Is this product kosher?” isn’t sufficient.<br /> C. Level of urgency<br /> If the issue is very urgent, feel free to mention such during your message. An example of a bona fide emergency is someone who cooked a dairy-designated product with meat for Shabbos. A less urgent question might be an inquiry into the dairy status of a nosh that you have been eyeing in the supermarket but have not purchased yet. <br /> D. Items that you do not need to include in your message: <br /> You do not need to leave on the answering machine the UPC code, the address of where the product was purchased (the agency will call you back and ask for it if necessary), production codes (if necessary, the agency can ask for it), and the price paid for the product.<br /> Please keep in mind that agencies are interested in returning calls as quickly as possible, and one need not describe every inquiry as urgent.<br /> For product specific questions, please include the following in your message: the items previously mentioned including the exact product, manufacturer and brand name as well as the Dairy/Pareve status as presented on the label.<br /> In most cases, for policy and halachic questions a full conversation is required, and the details of your question are best presented at that time. When leaving a message for these types of questions briefly mention the policy and/or halacha that you are inquiring into, and the reason for your question if necessary. <br /> 4. Other Points to Keep in Mind<br /> A. Proprietary information<br /> Keep in mind that certain questions cannot be answered because of the nature of their privacy. Manufacturers often do not authorize the kosher certifying agency to discuss the private labels that they manufacture, specifics about the ingredients used in production, necessary kosherizations (particularly if the company is concerned about its competition learning this information), etc.<br /> B. Asking about other agencies<br /> Be advised that some agencies are willing to answer questions about other agencies and others are not. Not answering questions about another agency does not necessarily indicate a lack of knowledge, but rather is a policy to avoid potential lashon hara issues. Keep in mind that one is not permitted to ask about every case. A prudent idea might be to ask your rabbi to decide if the question is purposeful enough to warrant a call to an agency that will comment on another agency. <br /> It’s important for a kosher consumer to be conscientious when purchasing products. Don’t be asleep at the wheel. Ask your questions, but remember that a properly asked question is half the answer (shaylos chacham chatzi teshuva). <br /> <br /> Other Important Articles in this Issue Include: <br /> Why Mashgichim Get Grey<br /> Are The Kosher Laws Outdated<br /> Are We Doing Enough To Upgrade Kosher Standards<br /> <br /> To see these articles plus the 782 Kosher Symbols and Organizations and the entire 152 page October isssue of Kashrus Magazine, order now.

Meeting the Challenge of Obesity by Daniel Karen -

Obesity, the problem of being overweight, has become one of the major health and social issues in America and developed nations around the world. For the Jewish consumer, it is not enough to make sure that the food products one eats and drinks are kosher; but rather one also has to be deeply concerned about the nutritional contents of what enters one’s mouth.<br /> In the past year, the New York Times published a story about a medical report that claims that, due to the dramatic increases in obesity, today’s children suffering from weight problems and related health diseases will have shorter life spans than their parents. This would be the first time in more than 200 years that the average life span in the U.S. was statistically on line to drop significantly.<br /> Half of All NYC Students Are Overweight<br /> Government studies published in Washington D.C. indicate that 30% of American youngsters are overweight, and of this figure, half can be termed obese or severely overweight. A recent study indicated that, in New York City, a quarter of the school population is obese and almost half are overweight.<br /> <br /> Other Important Articles in this Issue Include: <br /> Why Mashgichim Get Grey<br /> Are The Kosher Laws Outdated<br /> Are We Doing Enough To Upgrade Kosher Standards<br /> <br /> To see these articles plus the 782 Kosher Symbols and Organizations and the entire 152 page October isssue of Kashrus Magazine, order now.<br /> Dr. Lisa Altshuler, the director of Kids Weight Down, a program initiated in 1998 by the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn to combat juvenile obesity, told KASHRUS Magazine that this problem has unfortunately been growing by leaps and bounds during the past 15 to 20 years.<br /> “We have also seen major increases in serious medical problems developing in children that are directly related to conditions of obesity and being overweight. These include Type II Diabetes, Pre-Diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides which put people at greater risk for heart problems. These are medical conditions that we used to see primarily in adults who were in their thirties, forties and fifties. Sadly, we are now beginning to regularly see such awful problems in our children at such previously unknown ages as 10, 11 and 12.”<br /> Crosses All Ethnic and Social Barriers<br /> According to Dr. Altschuler, obesity among children is a growing problem that crosses all ethnic, social and religious barriers. However, in the Orthodox Jewish community, according to Dr. Altschuler, “There are unique challenges for children who are enrolled in yeshivos. Firstly, they have to deal with very long school days, and, secondly they face in their world a lack of emphasis on physical activity. Studying is very important and often takes precedence over physical activity.”<br /> The Kids Weight Down program aims to help children overcome the health hazards of obesity by recognizing that, if a child is to solve his or her weight problem, the solution must involve the help of other members in the family. The program consists of a number of sessions conducted at Maimonides. <br /> The emphasis is not about making a quick weight loss, but rather about learning to live healthy. The staff at the Kids Weight Down program focus on teaching the skills necessary to make good life style changes. This includes instructing participants and their family members about healthy food choices. Dr. Altschuler explained that it is important to communicate to children how they can feel good about themselves without having to self-indulge with food.<br /> <br /> Discovering the Reasons Why People Overeat<br /> “We find out what are the reasons that people eat when they are not hungry,” Dr. Altschuler explained. “These include habits, boredom, sadness, stress and/or social pressures. <br /> “We spend a lot of time teaching social skills and how to behave when other people are eating or overeating. We encourage those enrolled in our program to choose to eat a salad, even when everyone in their peer group is eating pizza or some other similar fatty fast food.”<br /> Eighty-five percent of the participants in the program succeed, either by losing a significant amount of weight as a result of their life-style changes or by maintaining their weight. The second group benefits, because by maintaining their weight while they grow in height, they actually are losing weight and becoming trimmer in the long run.<br /> Readers interested in more details about the Kids Weight Down program can call (718) 283-8020.<br /> The Proliferation of Fast Food Outlets<br /> To find out about how obesity and the health problems for adults caused by being overweight, KASHRUS Magazine spoke to Dr. Robert Schulman, a prominent endocrinologist, who has for the past 25 years also practiced internal medicine in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn.<br /> When asked about obesity in the Jewish community, Dr. Schulman glumly replied that it is at least as bad and may even be worse than in the general American population. This is a plague that he attributes to the proliferation of fast food outlets that offer primarily a menu heavy in high fats. <br /> He also complained that restaurants have significantly increased the size of the portions that they serve customers and that this has also contributed to the rapidly expanding waistlines of Americans of all ages. <br /> A third villain in causing Americans to become fatter is a major drop in exercise and physical activity that used to consume much of the caloric intake of previous generations.<br /> “There were nowhere near the number of restaurants and fast food outlets when I was growing up in the fifties and early sixties,” Dr. Schulman recalled. “It wasn’t until around 1967 that the first kosher pizza shop opened in Boro Park and that was the first such kosher pizza outlet in the entire New York Metropolitan area.”<br /> <br /> Yeshivos Need Better Gym Programs<br /> Dr. Schulman also decried the lack of attention given by most yeshivos for proper physical activities during the long school day. He has privately complained to many yeshiva directors. While most yeshiva administrators agree with Dr. Schulman’s concern for the future well-being of the students, none of the school directors have displayed the courage to make their institution the first yeshiva in their segment of the chareidi community to institute a proper and effective gym program. “They all want to be the second school to introduce the benefits of positive physical education,” Dr. Schulman said.<br /> Ranting and raving to his patients for years about the necessity of developing a proper diet that focuses on nutritious foods (i.e. more vegetables and fruits), Dr. Schulman believes that much of the blame for current unhealthy eating habits can be traced to those yeshivos that feed their students a terrible menu that “is very high in fats, a lot of junk and very little beneficial foods such as vegetables and fruits. Almost all of the yeshivos have vending machines that sell sugar-rich candies.” <br /> [Editor’s Note: Some states are introducing mandatory bans on soft drinks in public schools. Would that our yeshivos unite to do the same and to require snacks to be healthy. Nosh manufacturers would follow suit. Just ask the kids. They love box drinks of pure fruit juice, raisins, etc.]<br /> Dr. Schulman also blames the advent of the computer for the fattening of America. He notes that people don’t go out of the house, as before, to shop, but choose to shop online. Many children instead of losing calories by athletic endeavors such as playing basketball, instead spend their time engaged in computer games.<br /> <br /> Aim to Eat Salads and Low Fat Proteins<br /> Mr. Jack Fried, a nutritionist for Maxi-Health, a producer of kosher vitamins and health supplements in Brooklyn, offered KASHRUS Magazine readers some tips on what readers can do to improve their diet: “Basically, the diet should consist of eating lots of salads with a little olive oil and lemon, instead of traditional dressings, as well as low fat proteins such as cottage cheese, turkey, veal, fish, skinned chicken, etc.”<br /> Mr. Fried, who has a Ph.D in nutrition, recommends snacking on no more than two raw vegetables or fruits (such as a half a cantaloupe) in the morning. In the evening, one can allow oneself a handful of seeds or nuts (but avoid peanuts or peanut butter).<br /> Many overweight and obese individuals come to Mr. Fried and to health food stores in the hopes of finding that one special vitamin or supplement that will solve all of their nightmares upon getting onto a scale, and still allow them to eat or gorge themselves as before.<br /> <br /> The Danger of Quick Weight Loss Supplements<br /> Unfortunately, according to Mr. Fried, the supplements that work best are not healthy and the ones that are healthy, work only in conjunction with adapting a good diet. Maxi-Health, Mr. Fried said, has never manufactured the type of spectacular supplements that result in dramatic and weight losses, but which can damage the individual’s overall health. Most of these products are eventually forced off the market by the Federal Drug Administration after the FDA has received reports about their severely debilitating side effects.<br /> Mr. Fried also attributes the growing obesity problem in America to an exposure to more junk food and the fact that people are much less active physically. <br /> He encourages people, in addition to adopting a healthier diet that can be assisted by health supplements such as D and S (Diet and Sugar) Control and EPO (a combination of evening primrose oil with flaxseed oil), to also try and take one or two brisk walks a day of about 20 minutes duration. The advantage of supplementing a healthier diet with D and S and EPO is that the supplements help to keep one less hungry and thus contribute to a beneficial loss of weight.<br /> <br /> A Torah Perspective About Proper Eating<br /> Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, Rav of Khal Bais Yitzchok in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn spoke to us about the dangers of overeating. In addition to being a popular author and lecturer, Rav Goldwasser has also written a book about the reverse problem of major eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.<br /> With regards to overeating, Rabbi Goldwasser explained that, as we learn in Mesechta Brochos, “as long as we had the Bais Hamikdash, the sacrificial offerings made on the altar in the Holy Temple used to serve as an atonement for the Jewish nation. However, now, it is every person’s table that serves to atone for him! We learn that how we treat the table that we are eating from is how we are serving Hashem. The style of eating in a measured and dignified manner is our way of serving Hashem today.” <br /> Rabbi Goldwasser noted that it was said of Rav Avrahom Yaakov of Sadigura, that his service of Hashem was as visible while he was eating at the table as it was when he was praying.<br /> The Chasam Sofer said that the various measured quantities (shiurim) that are mentioned in the Torah help us to understand the correct attitude towards eating. There is a specific amount that a person should eat, in order, to be healthy. <br /> “Often times,” Rabbi Goldwasser said, “the overeater seeks fulfillment and happiness through consuming food. The Torah instructs us that we should strive to find our source of happiness within the spiritual realm. Then the fulfillment and satisfaction we gain will be real and long lasting.” <br /> <br /> Other Important Articles in this Issue Include: <br /> Why Mashgichim Get Grey<br /> Are The Kosher Laws Outdated<br /> Are We Doing Enough To Upgrade Kosher Standards<br /> <br /> To see these articles plus the 782 Kosher Symbols and Organizations and the entire 152 page October isssue of Kashrus Magazine, order now.<br />

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