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Foods for Pesah

In accordance with the principles explained above, the following rules apply to foods and related products on Pesah:

l. Leavened bread, cakes, biscuits, crackers, cereal, coffees containing cereal derivatives, wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, and all liquids which contain ingredients or flavors made from grain alcohol are forbidden.

2. Ashkenazic Jews follow the custom of not eating rice, peas, beans, peanuts, corn, mustard, lentils, chickpeas, buckwheat, or sesame. These foods may be kept, however, and they may be fed to children or animals. Some authorities permit the eating of green beans and peas, holding that the prohibition applies only when they are dried. Some authorities permit oils or other food products derived from kitniyot. Some authorities do not include peanuts in the category of kitniyot.

3. Fresh fruits and vegetables and eggs are permitted without any special supervision. Frozen or canned fruits or vegetables, even when they contain no ingredients other than the fruit or vegetable, require Pesah supervision, because such foods are often processed on equipment which is also used for foods containing hametz.

4. Pure coffee, tea (not herbal tea), sugar, and spices are permitted on Pesah. However, modern food manufacturing processes raise questions about these foods. Many common brands have been determined to be free of hametz.

5. Matzot, matzah meal, Passover noodles, candies, cakes, beverages, canned and processed foods, dairy products, jams, jellies, wines and liquors, vegetable gel, relishes, salad oils, dried fruits, and shortening are permitted if their manufacture and packaging have been carried out under rabbinical supervision to insure that they are free from hametz. The name of the supervising rabbi or organization should appear on the package. Passover products from previous years may be used if they have been kept securely away from hametz.

6. Milk bought before Pesah does not require rabbinical supervision, and may be used on Pesah. Milk bought on Pesah should have rabbinical supervision. The problems with milk involve indirect contact with or benefit from hametz and the vitamins usually added to our milk. Small amounts of hametz may, in such cases, be "nullified" before Pesah but not during the holiday. More complex dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, and butter, require special Pesah supervision because of additional ingredients and processing issues.

7. Quinoa may be used for Pesah. It should be purchased in its natural form and rinsed and examined to make sure that no other substances are mixed with the quinoa kernels. It is preferable to buy packaged quinoa with year-round rabbinic supervision, in order to reduce the possibility of contamination with other substances.

8. Food wrapping materials, dishwashing detergents, and other materials which come into contact with food or dishes must be determined to be free of hametz. Many common brands of these items have been so determined.

9. In any of the above cases, packages should be opened fresh for Pesah unless it is certain that nothing extraneous could have been dropped into an open package.

10. Medicine used in connection with life sustaining therapy may be used even if it contains hametz. This is not the case with other substances used for medicinal purposes. In fact, however, many common medicinal substances have been determined to be free of hametz.

11. While, in an emergency, a baby may be fed hametz (using dishes which are kept separate from the regular Pesah dishes), it is much preferable to avoid hametz food. Food containing corn, rice, etc., however, may be used freely for babies. In principle, one may use Pesah dishes for serving kitniyot under these circumstances. However, since the kitniyot food will presumably not have rabbinical supervision for Pesah, and for general esthetic reasons, one may want to use special dishes (not Pesah and not hametz) for this purpose.

12. Most pet foods contain hametz. One may improvise "Pesachdik" pet foods, or one may sell the pet and its food during Pesah. Obviously, animals are not required to observe Pesah, but we are required to avoid benefiting from hametz in any way, e.g., by feeding it to our animals.

13. In cases where it was noted above that "many common brands have been determined to be free of hametz" a rabbi should be consulted for current information.

For more information, download the Rabbinical Assembly Pesah Guide here.


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