Starbucks offers various flavours some of which are certified Kosher. However, there may be a problem since the flavour is dispensed from pumps, which are used indiscriminately for both the Kosher and the non-Kosher flavours. The pumps are connected to large bottles from which they are filled as each new shot is dispensed.
It appears that these pumps are not Kosher since a Treif liquid will impart its flavour to a container in which it is held for more than 24 hours. Dedicated pump dispensers are not used for the Kosher flavours. May we assume that the dispensers are washed and empty for more than 24 hours, which makes their absorbed non-Kosher flavour Nosen TaAm LifGam? We might then argue a SeFek SeFeiKa exists: (1) perhaps the pump has been empty for 24 hours; and (2) even if it not, perhaps it was used with Kosher flavours exclusively.
Rabbi Baruch Rubanowitz answers:
· the flavouring is only used cold.
· these dispensing pumps are made of material that may absorb TaAm.
· the problem also applies to the straw through which the flavouring is drawn, but not to the bottle which is discarded.
Flavours of liquids left in vessels for 24 hours, will be absorbed by the vessel. If a cold Treif soup remains in a bowl for 24 hours, it will make the bowl Treif. When that bowl is later emptied, washed and refilled with Kosher soup and heated, the Kosher soup will become Treif from the non-Kosher flavour absorbed in the bowl. However, leaving the cold Kosher soup in that bowl for 24 hours, will not make it Treif.
Because by the time the Treif flavour is exuded from the bowl, it is already a TaAm LifGam.
So, we don't require a SeFek SeFeiKa; even if Treif flavourings remained for more than 24 hours and imparted Treif flavour to the dispensing pumps, and following this the dispensers are used for Kosher flavourings; any Treif flavour leached into the Kosher flavouring is Nossen TaAm LifGam.
However, the question remains, may we buy the coffee that risks containing TaAm LifGam of Treif?
Treif utensil may be used irregularly, when used exclusively for cold foods [Ramo Y.D. 121:5] since there are two steps separating us from the non-Kosher:
Furthermore, it is clear from the Ramo, that in cases where the vessel was without doubt used exclusively with cold foods, it will not require any Kashering.
The Ramo, in his Darkey Moshe permits using these utensils with vinegar, a liquid which is deemed to cause cooking within a few minutes. See Shach 10.
Accordingly, we are permitted to eat cold Kosher food served on non-Kosher crockery and with non-Kosher cutlery. [We actually have a greater problem eating in the home of a Jew who has not Toivelled his food utensils]. Similarly, we can serve cold dairy dessert in Fleishig bowls on the occasions when we do not have sufficient Milchig bowls and do not wish to use “disposables”. We may not use them regularly since that may well lead to their inadvertent use with hot foods. [Shach YD 121:12?]
Although the coffee at Starbucks seems to be like using a gentile's utensils on an irregular basis, there may be a problem since we don’t have the Ramo's two steps of safety. The Ramo only permits using a Treif utensil when flavour is not transferred.
This brings us back to your problem: How can Starbucks be certified Kosher if the pumps are not dedicated for Kosher use?
Foods are permitted BeDiOvad when their prohibition is only Midderabanan, if prohibited by Torah Law, they are Assur even BeDiOvad.]
Now consider a situation in which a gentile used an eino ben yomo utensil, a taam pagum entered kosher food, and a Jew wishes to purchase that food. Is that a case of bedi'avad since the food has already absorbed the taam pagum and is therefore muttar for a Jew to eat and even purchase? Or is it to be considered a case oflechatchila since the mixing of taam pagum and food did not happen to the Jew's food and he will not suffer any loss by not buying the food other than the inconvenience of not having that food? In other words, perhaps the bedi'avad-based dispensation is relevant when the Jewish owner of the food would otherwise suffer a monetary loss, but if the mixing took place while the food belonged to a gentile, a Jew is not permitted to purchase it.
The Ramo (Y.D. 108:1) rules that we may not purchase food from a gentile that is only permitted BeDiOvad, however, in his Sefer, Toras Chatos (35:1), he documents that the accepted custom is to be lenient; and that we may purchase food from a gentile that contains TaAm Issur LifGam as in Cracow Jews ate roasted chestnuts from gentile street vendors, even though the grill was used earlier for Treif food. The Taz (YD 108:4) rules as per the Toras Chatos. The same logic applies to permitting pas Palter, which is baked in the gentile’s non-Kosher kitchen.
However, we may not request a gentile to cook Kosher foods with Treif utensils even though they are Eino Benei Yoman. That is considered LeChatChilla, nor may we eat those foods if they were specifically prepared for us by for the gentile. Darkhei Teshuva (108:20), quoting Rashbash (560)
Therefore, Kosher certification is valid at Starbucks since any non-Kosher flavouring is already leached into the Kosher flavourings and occurs regardless of the Jew's purchase. This is similar to the chestnuts that had already been roasted on the Treif grill and prepared for Jew and gentile alike.
n.j The Maharam of Lublin (Teshuvos 104) rules that food prepared by non-Jews with non-Kosher utensils, for consumption by non-Jews, is Kosher, even where it is clear that Jews will also consume the product. The non-Kosher utensils can not disqualify the food cooked in them, since the non-Kosher absorbed flavour is tainted, TaAm Pagum. Such flavour cannot make foods non-Kosher. It only compels us, by Rabbinic Decree, to Kosher the utensil before using it.
One who ignores the decree is penalised and may not eat the food, although it is 100% Kosher.
Even if a Jew supervises production so that the food will be certified Kosher, and Jews are clearly part of the intended market; the food is Kosher since it is not made specifically for them.
The Chasam Sofer (Y.D. 82) makes the same point regarding a Jew's herd of milk cows of which some may be Treif; which makes their milk Treif. How can we use the milk of this herd?
The milk of the suspect cows is less than a sixtieth and is negligible within the entire batch, but the Jewish farmer is not permitted to mix the Treif milk into the Kosher milk (Ein Mevatlin Issur LeChatchila).
The Chasam Sofer advised that the livestock be sold to a gentile and the milk sold to the Jew after it has been collected.
The Chasam Sofer has taken a bold step by applying this principle to a case of Bitul BeShishim which is a significant step beyond cooking with TaAm Pagum.
But there seems to be a problem here, for we are not permitted to instruct the gentile to make this sort of Bittul on our behalf, and here the gentile is being instructed to milk all the cows for the purpose of selling it to the Jew.
The Radvaz however (vol. 3, 978, or 547 in earlier editions) seems to differentiate between Bitul BeShishim and TaAm Pagum. Remember, TaAm Pagum is really Kosher whereas the milk is in fact Assur and only BECOMES Muttar through Bitul. (see Yad Avrohom Y.D. 89)