Q. Is video supervision of milk adequate to establish a Cholov Yisroel status or must a Yisroel be physically present?
A. This is a matter of dispute among contemporary Poskim. The rabbinic requirement of Cholov Yisroel (milk that was produced in the presence of a Yisroel) was enacted to ensure that kosher milk was not adulterated with milk from non-kosher animals. Those who allow the use of video cameras maintain that the Yisroel who oversees the milking does not have to be physically present. As proof, Halacha allows the Yisroel to verify that only kosher animals are in the milking barn. After doing so, the Yisroel can stand guard outside the barn while the milking occurs. Thus, we see that verification is sufficient even without physical presence. In fact, video supervision is even better than standing outside the barn, as the Yisroel can view the inside of the barn with the video camera.
Other Poskim argue that the rabbinic requirement of Cholov Yisroel mandates that a Yisroel must be physically present. Checking the barn and then standing outside is a form of physical presence, while video observation is not. The OU follows the latter opinion, and OU Cholov Yisroel products are not supervised with video connections.
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.