By: Rabbi Yaakov Luban
These basic household staples present several kashrus problems and require kashrus certification.
Many types of bread are made with oils and shortenings. Basic ingredients of specially prepared dough mixes and dough conditioners are shortenings and di-glycerides. In bakeries, pans and troughs in which the dough is placed to rise and to bake are coated with grease or divider oils, which may be non-kosher. These oils often do not appear on the label. There may also be an issue of other non-kosher products prepared and baked on the same equipment. These are some of the reasons that bread requires kosher supervision.
It is Rabbinically prohibited to produce bread utilizing dairy ingredients. Since bread is frequently eaten at all meals, the Rabbis were concerned that one might inadvertently eat dairy bread with a meat meal. There are two exceptions – if the bread is baked in an unusual shape or design indicating that it is dairy, or if the loaf is so small that it would be consumed at one meal.
Jewish law requires that a portion of batter or finished baked product be set aside for what is known as “challah”’. While any size portion is adequate for challah, it is customary to separate a portion the size of an olive. After separation, the challah is burned. This ritual is obligatory only when the owner of the dough at the time of its preparation is Jewish, and the dough is made from flour of any of the following five grains: wheat, oats, rye, spelt, and barley. In addition, there is no requirement to separate challah if the batter contains less than 2-1/2 pounds of flour. If the batter contains at least 5 pounds of flour, a blessing is recited before separating challah.
If this mitzvah has not been performed in the bakery, it may be performed in the home by placing all the baked goods in one room, breaking open all sealed packaged material, and taking a small piece from any of the baked goods and burning it.