POPCORN AT THE CINEMA CRISPS FROM A NON-KOSHER FACTORY
The excerpt below was printed and is, at last investigation, still published on the websites of some Kosher organisations. What follows is an email exchange with the author of that article.
Going to a movie and eating the popcorn: One person may ask the fellow behind the counter, what oil and popcorn is being used. Upon seeing a reliable Hechsher the popcorn will be assumed to be Kosher. Never mind the fact that the day before, they may have used Treif oil! Once one person sees another eating it, suddenly, the popcorn is under the "EEI", "Everyone Eats It" Hashgocha.
I read your article with interest and delight.
May I request please a clarification regarding the popcorn illustration; I am under the impression that a non Jew who cooks up some apples for example and wishes to share them with his Jewish neighbour, such food is Kosher. Would that not suggest that the popcorn should in fact be kosher?
Thank you for your email...if a non-Jew cooks an item that is able to be eaten raw (such as an apple) and assuming it was done in a kosher pot, etc then yes, one may eat that apple. An item that is not eaten raw if cooked by a non-Jew may not be eaten by a Jew.
As far as the popcorn the issue is not just the cooking; it is that the oil it is being made in may not be kosher all together. And even if it IS kosher oil NOW there is no way to know if the day before it was non kosher.
I believe I understand the rule of Bishul Akum, but that did not seem to be the focus of your article nor does it appear to be the focus of your response; probably because popcorn is not sufficiently “honourable”. [Only foods that are honourable enough to be served at a royal table are subject to the decree of our Sages that forbids foods simply because they have been cooked without Jewish participation.]
But my enquiry was concerning yesterday’s non-Kosher oil. If I may eat apple sauce cooked by my non Jewish neighbour then it appears that what he cooked in the pot the other day is not Halachically important. Have I misunderstood?
Yes, you mis-understood. If the non-Jew cooked in HIS house there is NO chance the item is ok to eat regardless of the Bishul Akum issue. He would have cooked in a pot/pan that is not kosher. My case was if he cooked it in YOUR house for example...then the issue of bishul akum and whether or not it would apply "kicks in."
As far as the popcorn...it is not a bishul akum issue as much as it is a GENERAL Kashrut issue, since there is no telling what was cooked in that pot in which the popcorn was made. Hope this helps you.
However, you have now clarified another concern; that the fellow behind the counter perhaps can not be trusted and is presently using a non-Kosher oil although there is an oil container bearing a recognised Kosher symbol.
So am I correct in understanding that you have politely [which I truly appreciate] indicated to me that I am mistaken and that it would not be permitted to eat the apple sauce cooked by the non Jew in his non-kosher kitchen with his non kosher utensils? And that the reason for this is that even if we are confident that only kosher ingredients have been used, the utensils themselves, which in the past have certainly been used for cooking non-kosher foods, will disqualify the apple sauce?
you have correctly understood.
It has been some time (as you can see from the dated emails appended below) since I last contacted you and chatted about the popcorn at the cinema. In the interim I have had a chance to investigate our discussion a little further.
I seemed to have a lingering memory in my mind about foods cooked by a Gentile in his own kitchen using his triefene utensils, yet the food is Kosher. The requirements are that he does this of his own accord and is not commissioned by a Jew to do this. And these requirements have nothing to do with the food being Kosher but are necessary to avoid the penalty imposed by our Sages for using such non-K utensils. To illustrate, the food may be banned by power of the Sages penalty but that just applies to the person for who m the food was made. It is perfectly Kosher for anyone else to eat.
My research has led me to a Teshuvah from Reb Moshe Fienstien OBM, Y"D 2:41. If my understanding is not too far from the truth, Reb Moshe says that even if the Gentile cooked food in order to sell to the Kosher market, or if you will, even if the Gentile cooked it specifically for his Jewish neighbour, it is nevertheless Kosher.
This is so because those utensils are deemed to be Eno Ben Yomo. [Non-K foods will imbue their non-K flavour into the utensil in which they have been cooked. Kosher foods that are subsequently cooked in that vessel will become contaminated by that Non-K flavour. However, once the absorbed flavour is “old – Eno Ben Yomo” it is then tainted and can not render the foods it contaminates to become non-K.]
Jews are forbidden to use such utensils even though the food cooked in them can not become tainted, since the rabbis decreed that using Eno BY may lead to using B"Y, which CAN taint the food. If a Jew carelessly used an EB"Y utensil he is penalised by not being permitted to use the food for himself or for those for whom he prepared the food. It is Kosher though and other Jews may eat it. However no such decree and certainly no such penalty applies to the Gentile.
So we should be permitted to purchase foods from non-Jewish establishments provided that:
A) there is no Bishul Akum
B) the ingredients for this dish are Kosher even though non-K has been cooked with these utensils.
C) even if some non-K ingredients were used they are Battel.
D) the foods have not been commissioned by the Jew.
And furthermore, if there is no reason to think the utensils have really become non-K, but the manufacturer has a choice of ingredients to use which are Battel in the final product, one option being K the other being non-K, then the Jew may even commission the production of that food since the choice of which ingredient is used, is NOT commissioned by the Jew but selected by the Gentile for his own convenience. [I would presume there is no significant price or quality differential between the two.] Essentially this is the permit for accepting foods as K, potato crisps for example or ice creams, even though the plant equipment with which it is produced is Treif (i.e. Jews may not use the equipment themselves but may eat the foods manufactured on them).