European Rabbis Raise Kashrus Concerns With Sprite Zero

A non-kosher controversy is brewing in Europe as local Kashrus organizations come out for and against the kosher status of locally manufactured Sprite Zero.

By reporter

A non-kosher controversy is brewing in Europe as local Kashrus organizations come out for and against the kosher status of locally manufactured Sprite Zero.

Sprite Zero is a lemon-lime soft drink produced by The Coca-Cola Company. It is a sugar-free variant of Sprite, and is one of the drinks in Coca-Cola’s “Zero Sugar” lineup.

Complications began when one of the kosher supervisors at a factory in Europe accidentally learned that the production line of the local Sprite Zero had undergone a change in one of the ingredient formulas. The mashgiach immediately asked to verify the list of products after the change.

When he went through the new list of ingredients, he discovered to his great shock that one of the ingredients, which gives the characteristic sour taste to the Sprite Zero drink, is tartaric acid.

When he inquired about the reason for the change the factory’s food technician explained to him that the component was recently replaced for reasons of quality and durability of the taste since the acid that was used up until now was a chemical compound that faded if the bottle was left open for a long time.

The problematic component is “tartaric acid” or by its more familiar name “wine acid” which is an organic acid that looks like white crystals. It appears in nature in many plants, especially in grapes, and in bananas and is one of the main acids in wine. The acid is used as an addition to other foods to give them a sour taste and serves as an antioxidant.

The mashgiach immediately consulted with a local rov, who told him that this acid should not be consumed, since during its processing it goes through a process of turning it into wine and is in any case prohibited because of yayin nesech.

Immediately, local Kashrus organizations began to issue notices, warning their communities about the severe prohibition on yayin nesech and against consuming Sprite Zero.

Thus, in an unusual announcement, published at the end of last week, the kashrus committee of Buenos Aires headed by Rabbi Fayvel Avraham Sofer, warned against drinking Sprite Zero. The announcement states that the popular drink, which until now was approved by the committee due to the hechsher of Rabbi Landa, is no longer kosher and that this drink should not be consumed.

The Kashrut Committee of Vienna also announced that since Spirit Zero may contain tartaric acid, you should check the list of ingredients of the drink before consuming it and if the drink includes this ingredient, you should not drink this drink at all.

On the other hand, Rabbi Pinchas Padwa of Beis Din Shomre Hadas in Antwerp was quick to issue a clarification notice that the drink sold in stores in the city is without issue and there is no problem drinking it.

“After extensive investigation regarding the new recipe, we can confirm that the Kosher status of Sprite drinks in Belgium is unchanged,” he wrote.

Rabbi Padwa is a worldwide recognized authority in the Kashrus world and has a reputation for solving many difficult challenges to kosher productions, based on his profound technical understanding and his vast knowledge of the laws of Kashrus.

It should be noted that there is no problem with the Sprite Zero products that are produced in the United States and Israel.

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