What Could Go Wrong with Kosher Vanilla Production?
Rabbi Abraham Juravel
New York, NY
The Hebrew word kosher means fit or proper as it relates to dietary (kosher) laws. It means that a given product is proper, permitted and acceptable. The sources of the laws of Kosher are Biblical and are expounded upon in Rabbinic literature, in which the Rabbis interpreted, or added protective measures to the Biblical regulations. Kosher can basically be divided into four categories: Kosher-Meat, Kosher-Dairy, Kosher-Pareve (neither meat nor dairy) and Kosher-Passover. When a food product is Kosher, the determining factors for its Kosher status include its ingredients (raw materials) and processing agents that are in the product or used to manufacture the product. Even one non-Kosher ingredient may render the entire product unsuitable. The equipment with which the product is produced may also affect the Kosher status of a product.
This is especially true of flavors. With regard to natural vanilla, vanilla oleoresin and artificial vanilla (vanillin), the ingredients involved with its production can be Kosher sensitive such as solvents: oils, glycerin, ethanol and propylene glycol. Extraction equipment and concentration equipment may also affect the Kosher status if these were used for non-Kosher. And with regard to Kosher for Passover, the use of ingredients that contain chometz or kitniyos would prevent a product from having a Kosher for Passover status. Chometz is defined as any ingredient containing barley, oats, rye, wheat and spelt or their derivatives. Kitniyos is defined as an ingredient containing legumes, seeds, corn or peanuts.
Rabbi Abraham Juravel was born in New York where he studied at the Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway prior to attending the Telz Yeshiva in Chicago. He pursued advanced Judaic and rabbinic studies at Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Denver, and then at the famed Rabbi Aaron Kotler Institute for Advanced Learning in Lakewood, NJ, where he received rabbinic ordination. Considered an acclaimed expert in both ingredient analysis and food manufacturing and technology, Rabbi Juravel currently serves as the Orthodox Union’s Rabbinic Coordinator for Technical Services. His expertise and professional advice is sought by many Kashrut professionals throughout the United States and the world. OU rabbinic field representatives as well as rabbinic coordinators frequently seek his guidance and approach to many complex Kashrut issues. He gives lectures in Kashrus in Monroe and Monsey, New York, Los Angeles as well as in the Orthodox Union. He has given presentations at the National Bio Diesel Convention and the World Oleochemicals Conference. Rabbi Juravel previously served on the staffs of both the OK Laboratories and the Chof K Kashrut agencies and frequently consults with the Badatz certification agency in Jerusalem. He has visited hundreds of food manufacturing facilities throughout the world including Europe, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, South America, Mexico and the USA. Rabbi Juravel is married and the father of two children and has seven grandchildren. He resides with his wife in Rockland County, NY.