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Passover 2021 Recap

By Arlene Mathes-Scharf Copyright© 2021

Kashrut.com is a year-round Kosher food information website with a Passover section that lists or links to Kosher information from around the world. Kashrut.com was established in May 1996 to provide information on kosher to consumer and commercial readers.

For the Passover 2021 Season (February 4 - April 5, 2021) the site had approximately 189,000 page downloads and over 132,000 visitors. The Passover index page itself had over 21,000 visitors. The website transferred 282 GB gigabytes of information.

The 2021 Passover season was more normal than in 2020 when Many families were alone but still not back to normal because of Covid 19. In 2021 many families gathered but in smaller groups than in previous years. People were starting to be vaccinated and were more willing to enter stores than in 2020.

Shortages: In the Boston area, there were a number of product shortages. Almost no available Passover certified Chalav Stam heavy cream, half and half and plain yogurt was available. A local caterer reported shortages in a number of important items including cottonseed oil, matzah meal and cake meal. There also seemed to be a Passover ketchup shortage.

Kosher USDA packages: Communities in many areas of the country were distributing kosher USDA packages of food for families with children. These provided chalov yisroel milk and dairy products and shmura matza. In some areas members of the general community saw that the contents of the kosher packages were better than what is being provided in the non-kosher packages and were picking up the kosher packages instead.

Kitniot in Passover sections: There are an increasing number of Passover foods containing kitniot available in general supermarkets including areas without large Sephardi populations. The only way to tell which products were usable for people who do not eat kitniot on Passover was by carefully reading each label and deciphering the Hebrew of the kosher certification. There were non-kitniot and kitniot varieties of the same or similar items next to each other on the shelf. I saw “ersatz” mustard (non-kitniot) and real mustard (kitniot) next to each other on the shelf. Tomato sauce Passover snacks with and without peanuts were also next to each other on the shelf.

Non-Passover Products in Passover sections: I also found non-Passover certified Israeli products on Passover shelves. Shelving staff assume a kosher symbol in Hebrew means Passover. Often Passover and non-Passover products have the same UPC code so the shelving staff would need to check each product for Passover certification. Some stores received non-Passover products from distributors instead of the requested Passover products.

Late availability of information: The OU information was available before Purim which was a bit earlier than previous years. The rest of the information was released much later, which reduced its usefulness. The information could be available earlier since Passover products have been produced or scheduled earlier in the year and the hard copy books have been sent to the printer.

Confusion: Sudden changes in the Passover designation of products that had been previously allowed. The OU changed the status of maple syrup for Passover. They allowed OU certified maple syrup without a P last year and not this year without any explanation which caused a lot of confusion.

Passover comes every year. Hopefully, we can use the lessons learned in Passover 2021 for consumers to observe easier Chag Kasher v’Samech in 2022.

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Arlene J. Mathes-Scharf  
Food Scientist - Kosher Food Specialist
Scharf Associates
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Sharon, MA 02067