The Sugar Kashrus Tumult


sugarFor decades, some basic foodstuffs like coffee, tea, sugar and salt were not required to have kashrus supervision, and a Jew could buy a cup of coffee in a disposable cup anywhere. But a new development in China may change all that. A large manufacturing plant in China which markets sugar to Israel under a mehadrin hechsher was discovered to have bleached its sugar with lactose, a milk derivative, which makes it cholov akum.

 The discovery was made by Rav Avrohom Rubin, the head of the Rechovot Mehadrin kashrus organization. He traveled a month ago to the sugar manufacturing plant and discovered the cholov akum ingredient. The plant owners, suspecting nothing wrong, hadn’t even attempted to conceal the problematic ingredient on the list.

Rechovot Mehadrin Kashrus Agency representative, Rabbi Yaakov Zeibald, said, “Rav Rubin himself travels to inspect every plant which manufactures the ingredients for the products he supervises. He happened to be inspecting this plant, because he supervises a different factory which manufactures preserves with sugar produced here. After discovering that lactose was used to bleach the sugar, he gave strict instructions that the only sugar which our products may use is the one produced in India which contains no dairy ingredients.

Sugar has always been considered a raw material that doesn’t require special supervision throughout the year. The sugar used in Israel comes from dozens of different plants and no kashrus agency bothers to check its source. For all we know, we may have all consumed this dairy sugar without being aware of it.”

The Belz Machzikei Hadas kashrus agency also confirmed that sugar is considered a foodstuff whose production doesn’t require the presence of a mashgiach. Rav Mordechai Dovid Hoffman explains, “We know of various chemicals which are used to bleach sugar, like glucose, which is cheaper than sugar. Lactose is considered relatively expensive so it wasn’t expected that plants would use it. At any rate, any ingredient besides sugar is immediately discovered in our laboratory tests, and as a matter of principle, we check the list of ingredients in sugar which a plant sends to us. We don’t allow importing it if we see anything problematic.”

The Eida Hachareidis kashrus agency said that they haven’t heard of the phenomenon, but are fully aware of the possible problems in sugar production. “We thoroughly check every sugar shipment and examine the sources of sugar in our products,” said Rav Gavriel Pappenheim. He says that every sugar package may contain up to 20 various ingredients, most of them synthetics and chemicals which are not problematic from a kashrus viewpoint.

Another problem involves forbidden oils which the plant machines may be smeared with. “We know the problems so if any problematic raw material is discovered in a certain plant’s production, we don’t permit its import.”

Rabbi Zeibald says that the new discovery will necessitate a mashgiach kashrus on site for the duration of the kosher production. “The supervision of sugar will now undergo a drastic change due to this discovery. We’re planning a new advertising campaign on the subject to prevent G-d-fearing Jews from stumbling unwittingly in serious Torah prohibitions.”

 { Kashrus Division/Rabbi Yehuda Shain-YudelsTake/}


  1. This is an isolated incident not the common ingredient used in sugar refining. After speaking with rabbi Rubin at length re: the above incident, one thing was clear we must re-examine all of the Group 1 ingredients. Group 1 in the kashrus industry has been accepted as not requiring a Hashgocha at all.
    In Elul when I was by ???”? ?’ ?????? ????”? he was uncomfortable with the Group 1 status. He said every item must be examined for its kashrus & reexamined on a constant basis.

  2. ???? ?? ???? ???? ???? ????? ????? ????
    Rav Eliyashev said that ???????, ???????, ??? ??????? ?????? is only after it was set up correctly and then an issue came up, but you can’t ???? ????? ????? this way.

  3. Are animal products used in the sugar filtering process?
    Beet sugar is filtered through diatomaceous earth, whereas bone char is used in cane sugar refining.

    Diatomaceous earth is a filter material made from fossilized shells of ancient single-celled marine creatures.[THE SAME SHELLS WE ARE FILTERING OUT IN OUR WATER IN BROOKLYN]

    Bone char is a carbon filter, derived from dried purified cattle bones[MOSTLY TREIF,AND NON KOSHER ANIMALS]. Bone char is one of the most effective filter agents to attract the yellow colour particles that are associated with cane sugar. But it is important to note that no residues from either diatomaceous earth or bone char remain in the final purified sugar – sugar remains a natural plant product.