From the Rav’s Desk: Must raw meat and chicken be certified as Kosher for Pesach?

Question: [Tuesday, 4th Nissan, 5782]

I have in my freezer a sizable amount of unopened cuts of meat and chicken which I purchased during the year. It however does not state that it is kosher for pesach. May I still use them for Pesach?



Raw, non-processed, meat and chicken which was not cut and purchased in a butcher shop, do not require a Kosher for Pesach certification. If you desire definite verification, I would suggest calling the Hashgacha, or Rav Hamachshir about your specific product. All processed meats [cold cuts, beef jerky, ground meat or chicken, and processed Israeli frozen meets] must contain a Kosher for Pesach certification. Cuts of meat and chicken that were cut and purchased in a butcher shop, should be Kosher for Pesach, or have verified the status of the knives used to cut them.

Explanation: Several factors need to be considered in the question of whether meat or chicken require a kosher for Pesach certification. These are: 1) Must kosher for Pesach salt be used in the Melicha of the meat and chicken? 2) Did the meat go through any processing in which additives and preservatives were entered into them? 3) Was the knife used to cut them clean of Chametz residue? 4) Is there any issue if the chicken or cow were fed Chametz fodder during its growth?

The final conclusion of all these questions is as follows: Unprocessed meat and chicken which is bought from the meat processing plant, or supermarket which carries it, are intrinsically kosher for Pesach and there is nothing that needs to be done to it to make it certified kosher for Pesach. Thus, it may be used for Pesach even if it does not contain a kosher for Pesach symbol. [In fact, from my experience working in a shlachthouse by both regular year and pesach, there was no difference at all between the raw unprocessed chicken and meat which were packaged during the regular year without the kosher for Pesach symbol, and those packaged with a kosher for Pesach symbol in the months prior to Pesach. The only difference between them was the kosher for Pesach sticker. They did not use any different utensils for the Kosher for Pesach meat and chicken. The meat was from the same source of chicken and cows and there were no chickens or cows used that were not fed Chametz during their growth. There was no special salt used. In essence, the meat and chicken is assumed to be kosher for Pesach the entire year and it is just that they don’t bother putting the sticker on it until it is close to Pesach.]

However, processed meats, such as cold cuts and salami and hotdogs and the like must be kosher for Pesach. A typical ingredient statement of processed meat may include: beef, water, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, salt, dextrose, corn syrup, sodium phosphate, natural spices, smoke flavoring, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, and hence must contain a kosher for Pesach symbol. Furthermore, even whole cuts of meat which go through processing as is commonly done in Israel to frozen meat, should require a kosher for Pesach certification, in order to make sure that the preservatives added to it are all free of any Chametz. While usually this is the case throughout the year that all the preservatives added to frozen cuts of meat are free of any Chametz ingredients, it is best to verify with the Hashgacha directly. [In Israel, the meat processing plants “water fatten” the frozen meats with a minimum of 10% water, and sometimes up to 40% water in order to add to its weight and value. This is done simply for economic reasons and so the processing plants make more profit on the sale per weight. It is a rarity amongst Western societies and is generally prohibited to be done in Western countries. Many ingredients are added during this processing, and ingredients must be kosher for Pesach.]

The reason that none of the above four issues make non-processed meat and chicken require a kosher for Pesach certification is because: 1) The salt which is used for Melicha is non-iodized salt and does not contain any worry of having traces of flour or other Chametz or Kitniyus ingredients unlike in previous times. This is in addition to the fact that in many kosher meat processing plants, Kosher for Pesach salt is throughout the year for the Melicha process! 2) In general, if meat or chicken goes through processing it must be stated on the product, and otherwise it is assumed to be unprocessed. In Israel this is known as “Basar Meubad.” 3) The knives that are used to cut them are not usually used for any Chametz foods. Nonetheless, some butchers use the same knife which they use to cut the meat or chicken, for also cutting processed meats, such as salami and cold cuts and like. Now, these processed meats often contain Chametz ingredients, and hence intrinsically require a Kosher for Pesach certification. Now, if the butcher uses the same knife for cutting these processed meats and also the unprocessed cuts of meat and chicken, then these cuts of meat and chicken may not be used for Pesach due to the fat residue from the processed meat which may contain Chametz and may get stuck onto the meat that is cut. [Vetzaruch Iyun, as seemingly from the letter of the law a mere rinse of the meat should suffice even if this were to be the case, as writes Admur in 447:58, and hence even if one did purchase it from a butcher shop a simple washing of the meat should resolve the issue. Practically, however, we see that fat sticks to food in a way that a mere rinse does not help to remove it.] 4) Even if the chicken or cow was fed Chametz fodder during its growth, this is not considered an issue at all. According to Halacha, this issue only begins to apply regarding chicken/meat that was fed Chametz on Pesach itself and not to those fed Chametz before Pesach. Even during Pesach itself, majority of Poskim rule leniently. [Nonetheless, some Mehadrin Hashgachas are careful several days or weeks before Pesach to only feed the animals and birds non-Chametz fodder in order so there is no Chametz inside the organs of the chicken and it may then get cooked on Pesach. However, is a mere chumra, and even the Eida Hachareidis under Rav Bransdofer were not careful in this until recently.]

Sources: See regarding Kashrus of salt: Admur 462:19; See regarding if chicken and cow ate Chametz: Admur 450:18 in parentheses based on Michaber Y.D. 60:1; 142:11 and Shach 142: 1; P”M 448 A”A 10 regarding animal of gentile; Shaareiy Teshuvah 448:7 in name of his uncle; Beis Ephraim 35; Kitzur SHU”A 117:13; Yeshuos Yaakov 448:9; Nishmas Adam 19; Toras Chesed 21; Teshuvah M’Ahava Y.D. 3:60; Arugas Habosem 138; Maharshag 2:85; Ashel Avraham Butchach 448; M”B 448:33; Igros Moshe 1:258;Nitei Gavriel 57 footnote 24; Piskeiy Teshuvos 448:33

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