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Milk and Honey

Rabbi Dovid Cohen
Administrative Rabbinical Coordinator of the cRc

October 2007

Consumers regularly call the cRc office to ask whether a particular food requires hashgachah. As a rule, if the item is listed in the kashrus database as being a “Group 1”, we can tell the consumer that the item is acceptable without any certification. This article is going to discuss two exceptions to that rule – milk and honey.

When sold in bulk on a commercial level, both of these items pose minimal kashrus concerns, as they are pure items and the minimal processing done to them is typically done on dedicated equipment.1  As such, our database, which tracks the status of ingredients used at plants, lists these items as “Group 1”.

However, the same cannot be said for the retail versions of these items.

Milk is heat-treated (pasteurized) to prevent spoilage, and that same equipment is sometimes used for flavored milk drinks (e.g. strawberry milk) and other beverages that are kosher-sensitive.  Therefore, it is best for consumers to purchase milk which is kosher-certified, so as to be sure that there would be a kashering if the equipment had previously been used for anything non-kosher.

Under normal conditions, honey doesn’t spoil but is heated before bottling to make it flow easily through the equipment.  That same bottling equipment might also be used for other viscous products such as tomato sauces (which will require additional heating to prevent spoilage) which are kosher-sensitive due the meat, cheese and other items often added to them.   As such, although honey sold commercially is a “Group 1”, it shouldn’t be purchased on a retail level without hashgachah.

(1) As relates to transportation, milk is commonly hauled cold in dedicated tankers (and for less than 24 hours).  It is however noteworthy that honey is often transported from the farm to the plant in drums that are not necessarily dedicated to that commodity; but that concern is usually ignored, as the drums are invariably aino ben yomo when the honey is put into them.