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Community kashrus standards

filet-mignon The community kashrus standards have been updated by Rabbi Strulowitz. See below for details.




image018These guidelines are in accordance with the kashrus standards of the Va'ad HaKashrus of Northern California.

Compiled by Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz of Congregation Adath Israel, San Francisco, California. Last updated May 2011





In an effort to create a community standard of kashrut, where we can all eat in each other's homes and enjoy each other's hospitality, we are also enclosing a new, updated, wallet-sized list of the approved labels which signify reliable kashruth supervision. If a product has rabbinic supervision, you can tell based on a symbol somewhere on the package.

My gratitude extends to the rabbis from all over the world with whom I consult regularly in order to determine which supervisions are reliable.

A special thank goes to Rabbi Asher Lopatin for providing the template and inspiration for this guide.

Rabbi Joshua Strulowitz


What makes a supervision unreliable?

The supervisor, or supervising agency, may rely on certain leniencies within the law which the contemporary Orthodox community of today does not to rely on. Sometimes our standards of observance change over time, and the supervising authority needs to keep up with the accepted halacha of today, not just what was deemed OK many years ago. In addition the supervisor may not be careful enough on the lines that he or she is in charge of: not purposely giving hashgacha to a non-kosher product, but not meeting communal standards of oversight. Even fancy titles, such as “Chief Rabbinate of Luxemburg”, do not ensure reliable supervision. Rather, personal integrity and hard, careful work are what makes a supervision reliable. If you have questions on individual kashrut supervision organizations please speak to Rabbi Strulowitz directly.

Best’s Kosher and Hebrew National

Best’s Kosher, Shofar, and Hebrew National meats do not meet community standards. Best's Kosher relies on leniencies regarding the lungs of the animals it processes, leniencies that are below the standards of the Orthodox community. Hebrew National, now under the Triangle K, still has not gained the confidence of the Orthodox community. Neither product is flat-out treif, but, they are not currently up to the standard that the community should be keeping.

Products from Israel

Products from Israel, under approved rabbinical supervision, are reliable, and I would encourage all of us to purchase products from Israel whenever possible. However, you must make sure that the product does not contain gelatin (even "kosher" gelatin). Religious Leadership in Israel accepts a different standard regarding gelatin than the Ashkenazic Orthodox community has accepted here in the Diaspora. If you live in Israel you should feel free to follow their ruling. But in our community, the standard is not to allow any gelatin from non-kosher, or non-shechted animals.


The only gelatin-type product which is acceptable is Kolatin. Any product with an accepted Hechsher will have the right kind of gelatin. At Passover time, especially, beware of marshmallows or any chewy candies from Israel, which might have gelatin in them.

Why are there Triangle K's on products in Kosher stores?

Some products do not need any supervision; therefore, having any supervision label on it - even one that is unreliable - will not change the permissibility of the product. Some products, even when they are under a normally unreliable label, are known to be under good supervision. This may be because the individual rabbi who has gone out to the factory where the product is made is reliable, or because the product is approved by multiple supervisions, but is marked Triangle K. Also, as we will mention below, both Triangle K and Half Moon K are acceptable supervisions on all canned fruits.

Half Moon K: fully acceptable

Items with the Half Moon K koa1.gif (1090 bytes) are all reliably kosher, under Rabbi Dovid Jenkins.

The plain K

Merely having the letter "k" on a product does not mean it is kosher. Look out for yogurts and Jell-O, which have a “k” but are not kosher by our community’s standards. On the other hand, there are products that bear a "k" which really stands for a reliable supervision, such as on Kellogg's products. KD means that they are dairy. Kellogg's with a "k" are under the supervision of the Va'ad Harabanim of Massachusetts. Please note that some of Kellogg's cereals are not kosher and do not bear any "k". Other reliable plain "k"s is on the Tabasco sauce.


All breads need to have reliable Kosher supervision. Metropolis breads are all Kosher under the Va’ad of Northern California, even if you do not see the Va’ad’s Hechsher on the package. Go to their website to see all of the retail outlets that sell their breads.


Other Kosher breads are Rudi’s ( and Vital Vittles ( Colombo bread is also Kosher, except for the garlic and potato bread. These bread products can be found in retail stores throughout the Bay Area, including Andronico’s Market at 1200 Irving St. and Other Avenues Food Stores at 3930 Judah St.


Semifreddi’s is Kosher and available throughout San Francisco. We recommend that you remove Challah from bread before using (about 10% of the bread not to be used, but burnt instead).


Supermarkets in the area, such as Lucky’s and Trader Joe’s, carry limited supplies of Kosher breads as well.

Cheese and dairy products

Please remember that all cheeses and cheese-based products need reliable supervision, even cheese which is 100% vegetarian Cheeses with the Tablet K are not acceptable. Fresh creams, half-and-half and Lactaid, butter, cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and yogurt, all need reliable supervision.  

Grape products

If you’re having guests, make sure it is MEVUSHAL or have the host pour the wine!

Wine, grape juice and any product with grape juice or grape flavoring, including unspecified "fruit juices", need to be reliably certified as kosher. Fresh whole grapes are kosher.


Even if a wine is certified kosher, it may not be appropriate for your dinner table - especially in our community. That is because, since our community is so open and diverse, frequently we will have around our Shabbat tables beloved people who are gentile, not yet fully converted to Judaism or who may have converted with non-halachic conversions.


In such a case, only wine or grape juice that is Mevushal (flash heated or pasteurized) may be placed on the table for everyone to take. Otherwise, your guests may be drinking wine rendered as non-kosher as Gallo or Paul Masson. I would recommend, then, using only mevushal wine if you are having anything but the most intimate of meals, or making sure at the very least that the host – Jewish – pours for everyone, and no one else touches the bottle.

Almost all American kosher wine is Mevushal - Kedem, Baron Herzog, Weinstock - except when noted; many of the Israeli wines, especially Golan, Yarden and some Tishbi wines, are not. However, there are many outstanding Mevushal Israeli wines such as most Barkan wines, Kinneret Wines – especially recommended, Cabernet-Merlot-Franc – and Carmel wines. Chilean wines are usually Not Mevushal, Australian wines are usually Mevushal and French wines can go either way. In order to make your table as inclusive and comfortable as possible for all people, please look for the word Mevushal on the back label of the kosher wine you buy. Sometimes it is in the Hebrew.


There have been cases where there has been non-Mevushal wine on the table, and someone has told a non-Jewish guest not to touch it. The non-Jew was deeply hurt by this incident. Please, go the extra step to make your home comfortable for everyone you welcome into it.

Fruit juices

Except for grape juice, pink grapefruit juice and prune juice, which always need reliable supervision, other fruit juices which are 100% pure - orange, apple, pineapple, grapefruit, etc. - with no added natural or artificial flavorings or added "fruit juice" listed in the ingredients, do not need supervision. However, if possible I would recommend finding juices with supervision. Tomato juice always needs reliable supervision. Also, be sure to check carefully for a hechser when buying cranberry juice as many of them contain other non-kosher juices.

Other Beverages

Please be careful to look for supervision on any juices that have added fruit flavorings in them (all tomato juices and grape juices need supervision). Most sodas are kosher.


All whiskies and unflavored spirits (vodka, gin, Scotch, bourbon, etc.) which are not grape derived are kosher. I rely on Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l, and the London Beth Din for this ruling. Unflavored beers do not require supervision. New Zealand beers may be dairy. Liqueurs require reliable supervision except for Amaretto Disaronno, Peter Cherry Herring and Drambuie, which are all kosher without a kosher sign. Kahlua, even from Mexico, is no longer certified kosher, unless it has an OU symbol on it.


Plain and decaffeinated coffees and teas are all kosher. Flavored coffees and teas need supervision. You can buy plain or decaffeinated coffee made or ground at Starbucks, Tully’s, the Coffee Bean, etc. Please check the creamer before using it; half and half requires supervision.

Fresh fish

While it is preferable to buy your fish from a kosher fishmonger, it is perfectly acceptable to buy fresh fish from a regular store as long as the following conditions are met:

1.  Make sure you can identify the whole fish as kosher either by seeing its scales, or by some other unmistakable mark

2.  Ideally you should bring a knife from home and have them use that knife. Yum Yum Fish (2181 Irving Street @23rd Ave) has been doing this for years and is happy to use your knife. If you don’t bring your knife, then have the store wash off their knife before they cut your fish.

3.  Make sure you wash the fish thoroughly when you get home. Since nothing hot touched the fish, washing it off will clean off anything treif that might have touched it.

Canned Vegetables

Canned vegetables, along with almost all other processed foods, need reliable kashruth supervision. However, for canned vegetables, Triangle K and Half Moon K are acceptable, except that the Triangle K is not good for canned beans, potatoes and tomatoes.


Examine three stalks in a bunch as follows:

Checking Asparagus Leaves:

1. Check under a few of the triangular-shaped leaves on the side of the asparagus.

2. If one insect is found, then all the stalks must be checked.

3. If no insects are found, proceed to check tips.

Checking Asparagus Tips:

After checking leaves, follow this procedure:

1. Wash thoroughly under a strong stream of water.

2. Agitate in a white bowl.

3. Examine the water to see that it is insect-free.

4. If it is insect-free you may use the vegetable.

5. If any insects are found, then this procedure must be done on all tips of all the stalks. You may re-do this procedure up to 3x in total. If there are still any insects, the whole batch must be discarded or tips must be cut off.

Floreted Vegetables

Fresh Broccoli and Cauliflower

1. Wash florets thoroughly under a strong stream of water.

2. Agitate florets in a white bowl.

3. Examine the water to see that it is insect-free.

4. If it is insect-free you may use the vegetable.

5. If insects are found, you may re-do this procedure up to three times in total. If there are still any insects, the whole batch must be discarded.

Fresh Stem Herbs

Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Mint Leaves, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme

1. Wash vegetables thoroughly under a strong stream of water.

2. Agitate in a white bowl.

3. Examine the water to see that it is insect-free.

4. If it is insect-free you may use the vegetable.

5. If insects are found, you may re-do this procedure up to three times in total. If there are still any insects, the whole batch must be discarded.

Two Methods to Inspect Leafy Vegetables:

A. Leaf by Leaf Inspection:

1. Separate leaves.

2. Soak in water.

3. Make a complete, leaf by leaf inspection.

4. Wash off any insects prior to using.

B. Chazaka Check for Large Volumes of Leafy Vegetables:

1. Throw out outer leaves.

2. Separate leaves of three heads of the vegetable.

3. Do NOT wash leaves.

4. Check the three heads leaf by leaf.

5. If one bug is found in the test heads, all the produce in the consignment must be checked leaf by leaf.

6. If no bugs are found, the rest of the shipment does not require checking and may be used after pulling off the outer leaves of the heads of the remaining consignment.

Note: Leafy vegetable inspection is greatly enhanced when vegetables are placed over a light box. Light boxes can be bought online at  

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Except for artichoke hearts and brussel sprouts and all products coming from China, which always need supervision, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables are all kosher as long as there are no extra flavorings or stabilizers – beyond salt or baking soda or the like – and have no added oils.


I would suggest going to the Star-K Online website for a more extensive discussion of fresh fruit and vegetables. Rav Moshe Heinemann is an accepted gadol on kashrut and of all the various rulings on fruit and vegetables, I have come to trust his opinion. Some highlights:

Common Leafy Vegetables that Require Inspection

Bibb Lettuce

Bok Choy

Boston Lettuce





Iceberg Lettuce


Mustard Leaves

Napa Lettuce


Red Leaf Lettuce

Romaine Lettuce

Spinach Greens


Examine three scallions in a bunch as follows:

1. Slit scallion tubes and examine inside of tube closest to the bulb.

2. If no insects are found, scallions may be used.

3. If one insect is found, then all the scallions must be checked.

Celery Stalks

Cut off leaves and wash stalks well under a stream of water.

Vegetables that Only Require Washing

Fennel bulbs, Leeks, Mushrooms, Red Cabbage

Vegetables that Only Require a Visual Check

Corn on the Cob

Vegetables that Do Not Require Inspection

Alfalfa Sprouts

Bean Sprouts






Green Beans












Sweet Potatoes





Vegetables that Cannot be Checked

Artichoke Hearts, Brussels Sprouts

Checking Dates and Figs

It is recommended to open and do a visual inspection on them by slicing them open and checking them against light.

Checking Buxer (Carob)

Break open in a couple of places and see if it is infested. If infested, will appear like a white stringy webbing on the inside. May also see holes on the outside.


1. Fill basin with water and some liquid cleanser or special strawberry wash (such as Tsunami 100).

2. Cut off the top with a small amount of the flesh. Check each strawberry for bugs.

3. Soak strawberries while agitating the water.

4. Rinse strawberries under a stream of water.


1. Take three raspberries out of a pint.

2. Check outside of raspberry.

3. Blow into cavity of raspberry.

4. Check for insects crawling out.

5. Drop raspberries onto light box, and check for bugs.


At times, blackberries can have bugs, therefore follow the procedure for cleansing of raspberries. Please note that this cleansing procedure only works for fresh blackberries that are still firm. Once they have “aged” and become soft, they may fall apart or get damaged during washing.

Items that do not require supervision

Dried beans, lentils, grains, sugar, flour, plain cocoa, pure (unflavored) honey, and  popping corn (as opposed to flavored popcorns), do not require supervision Sesame seeds do not need supervision. Bagged lettuce of any kind, which comes with a reliable supervision, does not need to be checked for bugs. 

Most spices, whole or ground, do not require kashrut supervision. Please see the Chicago Rabbinical Council's website,, for a complete list. They also have a complete list of which dried fruit are kosher without supervision - such as domestic raisons.

If we all work together to keep to these standards, everyone in our community will feel comfortable to be invited or to invite others to their home. Let us continue to create a community whose standards reflect the pleasantness we each have within us, which we can bring to our tables and homes.