Monday, June 4, 2012

Are Oreos Israel?

My wife returned home from the local grocery to the joy and delight of my children with three boxes of Oreos. Yet, just when she was about to break open the first box, she noticed the hechsher on the box:

You should have no trouble seeing that the cookies, which were not made in the United States, have the hechsher of the Triangle-K, an organization that is not universally accepted in Orthodox circles. Actually, to be more precise, the Triangle-K is almost universally not accepted in Orthodox circles.
But then, you might notice the big oval to the left of the Triangle-K. Having trouble reading it? No problem, I'll blow it up for you.

It says:
כשר חלבי (לאוכלי אבקת חלב נכרי) אפיית ישראל ללא חשש חדש באישור רבנות הראשית לישראל
[Translation: Kosher dairy (for those who eat powdered milk from non-Jewish milk) baked by a Jew without any concern for Chadash, with the approval of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate]

What? Is there something that I'm not getting? How is it that the OU, Chof-K, Star-K, etc, specifically "do not recommend" using products with the Triangle-K, but the Israeli Chief Rabbinate has no problems with it? Does the rabbinate send its own representative into the factories in order to ensure that the supervision is done properly? Or, has the Chief Rabbinate somehow decided that despite the fact that most reputable kashrut organizations don't accept the Triangle-K, they accept it nonetheless?
I'd love to hear that the answer is the former...and yet I fear that it's closer to the latter.
In any case, we found ourselves in the sticky situation of trying to explain to our children why they couldn't eat the cookies. "What's wrong?" they wondered. Isn't it Kosher?
"Yes," we told them, it is indeed kosher. It's certainly not treif, and we try very hard to educate our children that while we might be strict about certain chumrot and hashgachot, that does not, by any means, imply that the food is treif.
"But if it's Kosher, why can't we eat it?" How do you answer? It's not kosher enough?
Of course, this problem isn't unique to Oreos. It happens often when we come across a meat restaurant that isn't Mehadrin (which we're careful about). And yet, I never thought that I'd have a problem with the Israeli rabbinate approving a product that I myself don't approve.


  1. One could make the argument that the Oreo's are kosher. Oreo's are made the strictly controlled specifications. In the States and Canada they have an OU. And when it comes to Triangle K, apparently it's not that they are totally unreliable but because they are sometimes reliable even those products they can be trusted on are avoided.

  2. An Ishur from the Rabbanut JUST means that the rabbi who gives the hashgacha has an Orthodox smicha. The Rabbanut did not check out the product at all, has never visited the factory, did not administer an exam to the rav ha-machshir and has no further information than checking his Orthodox denomination.

    That is how a product that has a Triangle-K can get an ishur rabbanut when no Orthodox Jew in the US would eat it.

  3. I dont understand the dilemma you close with. if you are makpid on mehadrin then the Rabbanut regularly approves products that you do not approve of.

  4. I was once told by someone at the OU that I can trust most of the things with a Triangle-K, short of meat. (Everyone drank Yoo-hoo in my day. Similarly, various canned fruit, etc. was all used.) Triangle-K now certifies Hebrew National; not sure what he would say about that.

    Someone else I know at the OU then told me that a problem with the Rabbanut is they are required to accept certain hechsherim, as opposed to the OU, which apparently checks product by product. (Thereby possibly accepting Triangle-K? They don't release that information.)


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