Ask the Rov: How are chocolate factories kashered and should one rely on their kashrus?
By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah
During the production of chocolate, cocoa liquor is blended with sugar and other ingredients while heated. Many chocolate factories produce both pareve and milchig products and use the same equipment for both. This can present an issue of either chalav akum in a non-kosher facility or milchig in an all-kosher one (which, although being “nat bar nat,” should not be eaten with meat).1
Many companies are reluctant to allow kashering with boiling water since it can ruin the production if water gets into the chocolate. One alternative would be to kasher with libun (fire), but that is often impractical since the machinery has multiple layers that can’t be reached and thick walls.
What about doing hagala with a run of pareve chocolate (which won’t be eaten)? Can other liquids remove the absorbed taste like water?2
Chazal say that one may not use wine to kasher utensils that absorbed korbanos.3 Some Rishonim understand this as a stringency for korbanos, while others learn that it is invalid across the board.4 The Rama and the Alter Rebbe rule that l’chatchila one may not kasher in such a manner, but it is effective b’dieved.5
Halacha often rules that in a case of great need (sh’as hadchak), we permit whatever we would allow b’dieved.6 Is kashering a chocolate factory to have the chocolate considered a great need? While some would consider chocolate an extra, others consider it a staple.
But even if we consider chocolate to be a real need, is chocolate the same as wine? R. Moshe Feinstein rules that fats cannot be used for kashering since they aren’t considered a “liquid.”7 Accordingly, kashering with cocoa butter could be questionable since it solidifies at room temperature. For this reason, some kashrus agencies make a point of using liquid oil. (Another issue to consider is whether the machines are kashered at boiling point (212° Fahrenheit) or less.)
In practice, some kashrus agencies are very makpid on these issues, while others rely on more lenient approaches. It is appropriate to verify which kashrus agencies follow the standards you choose to follow.
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From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash