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Nov 26, 2013

Kashrut Alert: Cini Mini cereal is mislabeled as just dairy, should also say cholov nochri (cholov stam)

I have a great interest in the kashrut information shared by the Rabbanut via their newsletter, and I have taken advantage of their contact information a number of times to point out what I thought were labeling errors affecting kashrut. They seem to welcome such feedback and have acted on my information each and every time and have been responsive to me and have always updated me with the progress of each situation I contacted them about. I am very impressed with their fraud department that deals with these issues. They really take it seriously.

The latest situation I contacted the Rabbanut about is a box of cereal. I recently bought a couple boxes of imported Nestle cereal at Osher Ad. It was on sale at a pretty good price, had the hechsher of the OU with the approval (for importing) by the Rabbanut.

My kids were eating it at Seuda Shlishit this past Shabbos (we wait only 3 hours after meat before eating dairy, so they were able to have a bowl of cereal at seuda shlishit even on a short winter Shabbos day), and I was reading the kashrut information on the box of Cini Minis (probably for no specific reason). I noticed that this box had the OU-D, and in Hebrew as well it was marked as dairy. The other Nestle cereal box we had was pareve.

I thought this was strange - it says OU Dairy, but it has no information on whether the dairy is cholov yisrael or cholov stam (aka nochri or companies). Knowing that the law is on imports if it is cholov "stam" it must be labeled as such, I now did not know if this cereal is cholov yisrael or cholov stam. Being that it is OU-D it is most likely cholov stam. That's the rule with the Ou unless they specify otherwise. But the Rabbanut did not mark that on their approval, so maybe this imported product was actually cholov yisrael.

Now, just to be clear, I do not give a hoot if you eat cholov stam products or not. I have no problem with you relying on that or being machmir and not relying on that. I am not a cholov yisrael or a cholov stam warrior. However, I do believe products and kashrut information should be labeled properly so people can make informed decisions for themselves, each based on his own preferences.

So, I now was sitting there not knowing if this cereal was cholov yisrael or cholov stam. I did look at the ingredients and noticed nothing dairy included, so I figured it must be marked as dairy either due to trace elements or because of the equipment, and thought that maybe they don't feel the need to mark the cholov yisrael issue when there is not really milk inside, but I was not sure. It still did not feel like a good explanation.

So, after Shabbos I snapped the above pictures and sent them off to the Rabbanut asking about the situation.

Yesterday I received the response from the Rabbanut. I will post the original and then my translation:


ככלל כל מוצר מיובא המוצג ככשר חלבי המגיע מחו"ל באישור הרה"ר הוא על בסיס אבקת
חלב נוכרי.  

על פי הנוהל יש לציין זאת על גבי המוצר במפורש "לאוכלי....."

במקרה דנן מדובר בסימון לא תקין וכנראה שמדובר על ייצור בכלים חלביים העשויים
להכיל שאריות ועל כן המוצר סומן כחלבי.
בכל מקרה מחלקת הייבוא אמרה שתטפל בעניין

תודה וכ"ט

As a rule, every product imported as kosher dairy that comes from chutz laaretz (the diaspora) is on a base of cholov nochri powder.
According to the rules, it must be marked on the label that it is "for those who eat [cholov nochri].."
In our situation the labeling is improper, and it seems to be that it was produced in dairy equipment that could possibly contain trace elements, and therefore the product is marked as dairy. 
In any event, the imports department has said they will deal with the issue.

So, just to let you know:
1. the Nestle Cini Minis are dairy and are cholov stam. If you eat cholov stam, fine. If you don't, just be aware of this as it is not marked.
2. Hopefully the labeling will soon be corrected
3. When you come across such discrepancies or questions or things that are not clear or don't make sense - write to the Rabbanut or to whatever other kashrut organization is responsible for the product. You might surprise yourself and help improve the system and the kashrut situation.

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  1. I'm not sure I completely agree with this assessment. The OU has decided that they don't mark things as DE like many other American kashrus organizations do. I think that even if one is machmir to only eat chalav yisrael they can eat something that has no milk in it but was made on keilim that were also used for chalav stam.

  2. if it is a product that is marked dairy, how can you be sure there is no actual dairy in it, even if not listed on the ingredients? dont they not need to list all ingredients, if less than certain percentages?

    1. Rafi:

      According to FDA guidelines, milk is one of the 8 "major food allergens" and therefore must be listed as an ingredient even if only present as a trace amount. The fact that it is not on the Cini Minis makes it clear that the OU is just being cautious (i.e. from possible dairy keilim as David pointed out) and not becuase it actually contains dairy.

      See here (item #7) -http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm064880.htm
      and here -http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm064880.htm#label

  3. Is Chicago a suburb of Holland?November 26, 2013 5:15 PM

    Oh, you're Dutch?

    1. 3 hours is yekkish, not Dutch. The Dutch (or many of them at least) wait just one hour between meat and milk.

  4. Rafi, yishar koach on the investigation!

    hashem yerahem ! i didnt knew. i hope my soul wonty be bothered while shes cruising the night.
    thanks for cheking! yishrkoih!


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