Q: I only consume Cholov Yisroel products, but I have heard that butter is acceptable even if it is not made from Cholov Yisroel milk. May I purchase non-Cholov Yisroel butter?
A: Whether butter from unsupervised milk is permitted is the subject of amachlokes amongst the Geonim and Rishonim (see Rambam Hil. Ma’achalos Asuros 3:16, Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 115:3). The Rambam and Shulchan Aruch permit such butter, in the absence of any preexisting custom to prohibit it, because milk from non-kosher animal species cannot be churned into butter. Hence, we are certain that butter comes from kosher milk, and there is no need for the milk to be supervised. However, in our contemporary era, butter often contains starter distillate, a dairy flavor produced from the condensate of fermented milk, which is added to butter to enhance its taste. According to Rav Belsky, zt”l, butter that contains starter distillate (often included on the butter’s ingredient panel under the general category of “natural flavor”) does not have the above leniency, as the heter applies only to butter churned from pure cream and not to butter that contains other dairy additives.
This column comes from OU Kosher’s Halacha Yomis dedicated in memory of Rav Chaim Yisroel ben Reb Dov HaLevy Belsky, zt’l, Senior OU Kosher Halachic Consultant (1987-2016). Subscribers can also ask their own questions on Kashrus issues and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. These questions and their answers may be selected to become one of the Q and A’s on OU Kosher Halacha Yomis.