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Safety of Food Ingredients

Q. I have read many studies which show that bisphenol-a (BPA) and diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), used in canned foods and plastics, can leach into food and cause all types of health issues. If so, how can you certify food as kosher if it contains those ingredients or if they are used in the packaging of kosher foods?

A. It is surely true that ingredients which are dangerous should not be used in kosher food, and we would never certify a product which we thought might be hazardous. For example, we will only certify a caterer as kosher if they have already obtained a permit from the local Board of Health (and, therefore, will not certify caterers working out of the proverbial "basement"). However, we leave the decision as to which chemicals are or are not unsafe to the experts in those fields who have been assigned to such oversight (e.g., FDA) and do not second-guess their decisions. Accordingly, we do not consider it within the purview of our responsibility to develop an independent opinion on these matters; we rely on government or NGO to create and enforce policies in these areas.