Bishul Yisrael by non-Mezonos cereals, such as cornflakes

Must non-Mezonos cereals, such as cornflakes, be Bishul Yisrael and what is the status of Kellogs?

The general law: All foods that are cooked are subject to the laws of Bishul Akum, with exception to Mezonos products that are baked, which are subject to the laws of Pas Akum.[1] The prohibition of Bishul Akum only applies to foods that cannot be eaten raw, and are of importance to be served at a kings table. All foods that are edible raw, or are of unimportance and hence not served at a kings table, are not subject to the laws of Bishul Akum, and may hence be cooked by a gentile.[2] If, however, the food is eaten on a kings table and is not eaten raw, then it is prohibited due to Bishul Akum even if the food is not eaten together with bread, but rather as a desert or appetizer.[3] [However, some Poskim[4] are lenient and rule that only foods that are eaten with bread are prohibited due to Bishul Akum, and thus even if the food is eaten on a kings table and is not eaten raw, if it is not eaten with bread it is exempt from the prohibition of Bishul Akum. Aside for the above discussion, it is questionable as to what is the exact definition of an “important food which is served at a kings table?” Some[5] suggest it refers to any food that is not normally served at a wedding meal or in the White House dinner, and so is the approach followed by the OU and Star K. Others[6] suggest it is any food that will be put out in front of guests to eat, such as on Shabbos, or even during breakfast, but not foods that are only eaten as a mere snack. Others[7] ascertain that due to the complexity of defining this matter, all cooked foods should be treated today as important foods that can be eaten at a kings table, and so is the approach of some Mehadrin Hashgacha’s in Eretz Yisrael, such as the Eida Hachareidis and others.[8] Regarding the definition of “cooked by a gentile” there is discussion in Poskim[9] as to whether electric machinery which is used to cook in food plants is considered cooked by a gentile or not. Practically, the Poskim conclude stringently in this regard.[10] In addition to all the above, some Poskim[11] rule a Torah scholar is not to eat any food cooked by a gentile, even if it is not prohibited due to Bishul Akum.[12] Other Poskim[13] however argue that it is not necessary today for a Torah scholar to be stringent in this matter. Practically, one who desires to be stringent, should be stringent upon himself, while one who desires to be lenient is not to be protested.[14]

The law by cereals and cornflakes: Cereals are made of ingredients that cannot be eaten raw and are usually first cooked and then puffed or baked. If they are made of Mezonos products, they are subject to the laws of Pas Akum, while if they are made of non-Mezonos products they are subject to the laws of Bishul Akum. Below we will discuss the laws of non-Mezonos cereals and whether they are subject to the laws of Bishul Akum: Some Rabbanim[15] and Hashgacha companies[16], hold that cereals are not considered a king’s food and thus do not need to be Bishul Akum.[17] However, other Rabbanim[18] and Hashgacha companies[19] hold that cereal is defined as a king’s food and thus must be Bishul Yisrael in order to be considered Kosher.[20] Practically, one is to follow the directive of his Rav regarding this matter. Even according to the lenient approach, there is room to be stringent in this matter if one desires.[21]

Practically, how do I know if my cereal is Bishul Yisrael? Those who follow the stringent approach and require cereals to be Bishul Yisrael, must pay attention to Hashgacha on the cereal and whether or not it states Bishul Yisrael on the box or package. While some Hashgacha’s, such as the Eida Hachareidis, have a policy of Bishul Yisrael on all their cereals, even though it is not explicitly stated on the package.[22] Other Hashgacha companies, including companies who consider themselves to be Mehadrin, give a Mehadrin Hashgacha even though the cereal is not Bishul Yisrael, as they hold that cereals is not fit for a kings table. One is to contact the certifying Hashgacha company for clarity in this matter regarding the specific cereal in question.

Kellogs cornflakes: The famous cereal “Kellogs cornflakes” is under the Hashgacha of the Manchester Beis Din [i.e. MK] and is marketed as a Mehadrin product, with “Kosher Lemehadrin” printed on the boxes. However, after verification from the MK, it was discovered that Kellogs cornflakes is in truth not cooked by Jews, and is thus not Bishul Yisrael. Accordingly, those who rule like the stringent approach which requires cereals to be Bishul Yisrael, may not eat this product. [After correspondence, the MK stated they would remove the Mehadrin label from the product.]     

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[1] See Michaber 112/1; Taz 112/6; Shach 112/18; Toras Chatas 75/12; Beis Yosef 12 in name of Rav Yechiel; Peri Chadash 112/17; Beis Lechem Yehuda 112/11; Kaf Hachaim 112/35; See Hakashrus 19/2

[2] Michaber 113/1; Avoda Zara 38a

[3] Implication of Michaber 113/1 “Or to eat as a Parperes” as writes the Peri Chadash 113/3 and so conclude the following Poskim: Chochmas Adam 66/1; Aruch Hashulchan 113/7; Kaf Hachaim 113/7

[4] Peri Chadash 113/3

[5] Many Rabbaonim and Kashrus organizations including: Rav Yisrael Belsky of the OU; Rav Heinman of the Star K; See Kashrus Halacha Lemaaseh p. 373

[6] Beis Vaad Lachachamim p. 303 and onwards; See Kashrus Halacha Lemaaseh p. 373

[7] See Beis Vaad Lachachamim p. 303 and footnote 39 in name of some Rabbonim and Mehadrin Hashgacha’s; Opinion of Rav Moshe Yosef, the Rav Hamachshir of Badatz Beit Yosef; See Igros Moshe Y.D. 4/48 regarding potato chips; See Aruch Hashulchan 113/18 that foods that are only eaten by the poor are defined as Eino Oleh; See Kashrus Halacha Lemaaseh p. 373

[8] So I was told by a representative of the Vaad Hakashrus of the Eida Hachareidis that they ae initially careful that the boiler for the candy production be turned on by a Jew.

[9] See Kashrus Halacha Lemaaseh p. 380-384

[10] See Shevet Halevi 6/108-6; Minchas Yitzchak 3/26; Yabia Omer 5/9; Igros Moshe Y.D. 4/48 rules stringently although says the world is accustomed to be lenient and are not to be protested

[11] Shach 152/2; Shabbos 51a; Arizal Shaar Hamitzvos Vayeilech regarding Turmisin, even though they are not Oleh Al Shulchan Melachim; Divrei Yosef 45; Maharikash 113; Rashbatz 1/89; Chida in Birkeiy Yosef 113 Shiyurei Bracha 4; Mizmor Ledavid 113; Kaf Hachaim 113/12; Shevet Halevi 6/108-3

[12] The reason: As when people see him being lenient they will come to be even more lenient than him. [Rashi ibid]

[13] Kneses Hagedola 113/14; Peri Chadash 113/3; Lechem Hapanim 113/2; Peri Toar 114/9; Erech Hashulchan 113/3; Bach, based on omission of Rof and Rambam, brought in Shach ibid; Minchas Yaakov 75/30; Degul Merivava 113/1; Aruch Hashulchan 113/11; Zivcheiy Tzedek 113/10; Yeshuos Yaakov 113/1

[14] Zivchei Tzedek ibid; Ben Ish Chaiy Chukas 16; Kaf Hachaim 113/21; Panim Meiros ibid “A Baal Nefesh should be stringent not to drink any coffee or tea made by a gentile.”

[15] Rav Mordechai Eliyahu; Rav Yisrael Belsky of the OU; Rav Heinman of the Star K; See Kashrus Halacha Lemaaseh p. 373; Rav Padvah of England told me that he personally holds it does not need to be Bishul Yisrael

[16] Such as the OU; I received a similar reply from the OK.

[17] The reason: As, they hold that a king’s food refers to a food that is served at a wedding and the like. Other reasons which helps exempt non-Mezonos cereals from the prohibition of Bishul Akum: 1) Cereal is not eaten together with bread, and thus according to some Poskim is exempt from Bishul Akum, even if it were eaten at a kings table. 2) The batter is not directly cooked by a gentile but rather through automatic machinery that is turned on by a gentile.

[18] See Beis Vaad Lachachamim p. 303 and footnote 39 in name of some Rabbonim and Mehadrin Hashgacha’s; Opinion of Rav Moshe Yosef, the Rav Hamachshir of Badatz Beit Yosef; See Igros Moshe Y.D. 4/48 regarding potato chips; See Aruch Hashulchan 113/18 that foods that are only eaten by the poor are defined as Eino Oleh; See Kashrus Halacha Lemaaseh p. 373

[19] So is the initial policy of the Eida Hachareidis in Eretz Yisrael, to require cereals to be Bishul Yisrael.

[20] The reason: As cereals are served in fancy hotels for breakfast, and hence can be considered fit to be served at a kings table, which would require it to be Bishul Yisrael.

[21] Besides for the unclarity in the exact definition of Eino Oleh Al Shulchan Melachim, it is also a Hiddur for a Talmid Chacham not to eat food cooked by a gentile even if not forbidden due to Bishuil Akum.

[22] So I verified with a Vaad Hakashrus representative

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