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Candy Kashrus

Arlene Mathes-Scharf

S.M Food Science, M.I.T.

Sharon, MA

© Copyright 1993 Kashrus Magazine, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

Everyone enjoys eating candy but most of us do not think of it as a food. Since candy is totally a man-made food, it raises many of the kashrus problems which other foods have.

Why do candies need kosher supervision?

Most processed foods undergo many steps in their journey from raw product to market. Beginning with the tankers which transport the raw ingredients, possible problems may arise. The tankers are used for both kosher and non-kosher products and may not be cleaned adequately between use. Additionally, the production lines need to be properly cleaned, since many plants produce both kosher and non-kosher products on the same equipment. Even when all the products produced at a food plant are kosher, dairy and pareve products may be processed on the same equipment.


Reading ingredient labels of a processed food will identify if something is not kosher, but it cannot determine if something is kosher. Many chemicals used in the food processing industry and in candies in particular derive at least some part of their origin from fats, either animal or vegetable. The ingredient label, however, would not necessarily tell you this fact. For example, magnesium or calcium stearates are used in the manufacture of candy tablets to prevent the product sticking to the dies. They are produced from both animal and vegetable sources. Stearates are also used as lubricants, dispersing agents, and anti-caking agents in the formation and coating of tablets, and in the manufacture of glycerides and polysorbates.1

In addition, mono- and di-glycerides, used in many foods as emulsifiers to prevent staling in breads and to reduce pastiness in convenience and instant foods such as pastas, cooked cereals and dehydrated potatoes, could also have an animal origin.

Glycerin may be made from fats or oils which could have animal or vegetable origins or may be produced from petrochemicals.2


Some of the intrinsic ingredients in foods and particularly in candies can be non-kosher. Many candies have artificial and/or natural flavors. Since flavors provide an essential taste, they cannot become nullified using the one part in sixty rule (bitul b'shishim), invoking the idea that a minute amount of a non-kosher substance in a product is not a problem.

Some of the important compounds used in the flavoring industry are inherently non-kosher, but can be listed on ingredient lists as "natural flavors". For example, civet, which comes from an Ethiopian cat, musk from an ox, castorium from beaver, and ambergris from whales. These are all natural but can never be kosher. Cognac oil and wine fusal oil, which come from wine and other grape derivatives are also used extensively in the flavor industry particularly in chocolates. The flavor houses use many compounds together to get the effects that they or the customer want.3 Pepsin comes from the digestive juices of pigs and cows and has been used as a flavor in chewing gum.4

Food Colorings

Food colorings have become a big kashrus problem in the food industry and in candy in particular. Companies are trying to get away from F.D.&C. Red #40 and other artificial colors which have been shown to be carcinogenic and are expected to be banned as was F.D.&C. Red #3. Companies are also trying to avoid artificial colors since natural colors are perceived to be better by the consumer. FDA regulations state "Food additives and colors are required to be listed as ingredients... Spices, flavors and colors may be listed as such, without naming the specific materials, but any artificial colors or flavors must be identified as such, and certain coal-tar colors must be named specifically."5

Unfortunately the best red coloring agent substituting for the artificial colors is carmine. Carmine is extracted from cochineal, the dried bodies of the female insect Coccus cacti L., which is found in South America and Canary Islands.6 Carmine is an extremely stable red color and it is used in many types of products including soft drinks and soft drink mixes, fillings, icings, fruits in syrup especially cherries, yogurts, ice creams, baked goods, jellies, chewing gums, and sherberts.

Coloring agents with a kosher origin may be processed with non kosher mono-glycerides or propylene glycol to improve their functionality. Since these additives are considered processing aids, they are not required to be listed on the label. Grape juice or grape skin extract is also used in beverages to provide a red to purple color.


Chewing Gum

Chewing Gum is a product which raises a number of kashrus issues. Glycerin is the gum base softener, necessary for the production of gum base, the essential ingredient in chewing gum and as mentioned earlier may be of animal origin. In addition, flavorings need to be kosher certified. The national brands of chewing gums are not kosher, but kosher products are available.


Chocolates, more so than any other candy, need to have kosher certification. European companies can use up to five percent vegetable or animal fat to cut the costs of cocoa butter in their product and still be considered pure chocolate. The flavorings may also contain non-kosher ingredients such as wine oil and cognac. If it is not labeled as pareve, some dark and bittersweet chocolate and chocolate coatings may contain up to one or two percent milk to enhance the shelf life and prevent bloom, a whitening of the outer surface. The addition of a small amount of milk is particularly prevalent in Israeli chocolates.8

Compound chocolate which is used for coatings contains added fats which may be of animal or vegetable origin. Cocoa drops may contain palm or cottonseed oil, which need kosher certification, instead of cocoa fat. In addition carob products may contain milk without being listed on the ingredients. Most carob chips do contain whey.

Chocolate may also be processed on equipment used previously for milk chocolate and not cleaned between batches, so that the residue of the previous batch is still present on the equipment. This is sometimes labeled as dairy equipment, but to the cholov yisroel consumer, at least, such products should signal a red flag. For all kosher consumers, chocolates processed on dairy equipment may present a problem.

Kosher Production

Many of the kosher brands of candies are produced as private labels by manufacturers who produce other products to the contractors specifications. The contractor must be very careful to ensure that its specific instructions are carried out and must supervise the production.

Paskesz is an example of a kosher candy company which has successfully overcome the hurdles in producing kosher candies. According to Mrs. Schmidt, the new products coordinator of Paskesz Candy Company, it may take a number of years from the time they envision a product till its appearance on store shelves. Candy manufacturers produce for Paskesz with every step of the process under strict rabbinical supervision. First, the manufacturer is educated as to what kosher is and how that affects the product. Then, the entire ingredient list, including components of flavors and colors are examined and their sources researched by the certifying rabbi. At the time of manufacture, the mashgiach checks out the cleaning of the machines and the ingredients. There must always be a mashgiach present during manufacture of the final product. Sometimes, the mashgiach may need to lock up an essential flavor to ensure that production does not start without him.

For candy, as for all food products, one needs to look for the hashgacha, since the ingredient list tells only a small part of what is involved in its manufacture.

1. Lipschutz, Kashruth, Masorah Publications Ltd.,N.Y., 1988, p.131.).
2. ibid., p.114
3. Kashrus Magazine, Issue No.34,Vol.7. No.4, April, 1987, p.60
4. Lipschutz. p.125
5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. DHHS Publication No. (FDA) 89-1115 p.12.
6. Lipschutz, pp.109-110
7. Kashrus Magazine, Feb., 1991, p.11
8. Kashrus Magazine, Jan., 1986, pp.24-26

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