Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, announced today that quinoa, the grain-like seed grown in South America, is Kosher for Passover when processed with special OU Passover supervision and bearing the OU-P symbol. His statement is as follows:
“It is only recently that quinoa has become popular outside of its high-altitude growing area in the Andean mountain region of South America. Known for its nutritional qualities, it has been referred to as a “superfood.” In recognition of its unique properties and growing popularity with consumers, 2013 has been proclaimed by the UN “The International Year of Quinoa.”
Due to conflicting reports regarding growing conditions and final usage of this new world, gluten-free pseudo-cereal plant, OU Kosher was hesitant to conclusively declare it Kosher for Passover and non-kitniyot.
(Kitniyot is a category of foods that were forbidden by Ashkenazic custom during Passover because 1) they bear similarities to and might become confused with forbidden grains and 2) can become intermingled with those grains. Included in this group are: beans (all), buckwheat/kasha, caraway, cardamom, chickpeas, corn, fennel, fenugreek, grains-of-paradise, lentils, millet, mustard, peas, poppy seeds, rapeseed/canola, rice, sesame seeds, snow peas, sorghum, sugar-snap peas, soybeans, sunflower seeds and — according to some — include even cottonseed.)
Following extensive research and on-site investigation of cross-contamination issues by OU Kosher personnel at all quinoa growing areas including: Puno, Cuzco, Arequipa, Ayacucho, Junin and Chiclayo in Peru; and Alto la Paz and Chayapata in Bolivia; as well as the collection, washing and milling stations of quinoa, OU Kosher is pleased to announce that, for the first time, it is recommending quinoa for Passover, when processed with special OU Passover supervision and bearing the OU-P symbol.
In addition to quinoa, OU Kosher has concluded that related canihua, kiwicha and maca seeds processed under supervised conditions may also be approved for Passover (OU-P).”