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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

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As the weather changes

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Rabbi Saul Emanuel

Over the past few weeks, we have been waiting impatiently for the end of the winter season, and it looked as if it had finally arrived. That is, until we watched with disbelief as more snow fell during Pesach in some areas of Canada. Nevertheless, as the sun begins to force itself from behind the clouds, the summer season is upon us, and we hope that it will stay long enough for us to enjoy those delicious frozen summer treats.

Some of the most popular questions we receive at the MK during this time pertain to the drinks available at gas stations and convenience stores, especially as more people travel during the summer vacation period. Slush is a particular favourite among children.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, rule number 1 is that these items require a reliable kosher certification. Although there are many flavours and brands on the market, and some may seem familiar, it is important to ascertain that they are in fact kosher certified. A root beer may be kosher certified in the United States, but this may not be true for the same product in Canada, as the flavours used may be different. The MK (under the Jewish Community Council of Montreal) certifies a range of Slurpee products produced by Coca-Cola, as well as slushes produced by Slush-Puppie and Imperial Snacking.

Although slush machines can be found in many different locations all over the country, there must be a control by the company holding the machines, ensuring that only their product is used in the machine bearing their name, e.g. a Slush Puppie product may only go into a Slush Puppie machine.

Inspectors working for the MK frequently check stores to ensure that for products that bear our certification, this is indeed the case. Most franchise holders would remove their machines if they found out that a competitor or an alternate product was being mixed in their supplied machines.

Slurpees have many different flavours, and the list of kosher flavours is constantly updated, ensuring accuracy. Some certification agencies place a sign at the point of sale at various stores, including 7-Elevens, Macs, etc., advising the public which flavours are kosher certified, and that these flavours may be purchased at these particular stores.

Another popular item is the Popsicle and similar frozen treats. Whilst these generally do not contain dairy ingredients, they may be produced on a line that also manufactures dairy products. This is of particular concern in kashrut, as the product would be pasteurized on a dairy pasteurizer. Although the actual Popsicle doesn’t contain dairy ingredients, some certifying agencies choose to label the product as made with “dairy equipment,” which means that the Popsicle shouldn’t be consumed together with meat.

The MK policy is that a product is either “dairy” or “pareve,” and that there are no in-betweens. It is therefore no surprise that “Lebel Foods,” a company that joined the MK flagship several years ago, produces a totally pareve popsicle product made on a dedicated pareve line.

When going out to purchase your drinks this summer, remember to look for a reliable certification. Never assume that a product is kosher and that there are no additives.

Have a happy summer!

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