Shailah of the Week by Rabbi Zvi Nussbaum
Rabbinic Coordinator, Kosher Hotline Administrator for the Orthodox Union
Granola bars are made from oats (and other ingredients), which are one of the five grains that halacha recognizes as a base for bread products. May those who are careful to only eat pas yisrael (bread baked by a Jew) consume granola bars that are not pas yisrael? (Pas yisrael products are generally labeled as such.)
A granola bar is not pas (bread). This is because a granola bar is made from toasted kernels of rolled oats that are stuck together with syrup. Since the oats do not combine together to form a dough, they do not have the status of pas. Rav Belsky, zt”l, ruled that the appropriate bracha to be recited on a granola bar is Borei Pri Ha’adama. Therefore, the laws of pas akum do not apply.
Furthermore, the prohibition of bishul akum (foods cooked by a non-Jew without Jewish involvement) also does not apply to granola bars. That prohibition is limited to foods that can be served at a fancy dinner. Rambam (Ma’achalos Assuros 17:17) singles out toasted grains as a prime example of a simple food that is exempt from bishul akum.