What Are the OU Guidelines for Cough Medicine?
Shailah of the Week by Rabbi Zvi Nussbaum
Rabbinic Coordinator, Kosher Hotline Administrator for the Orthodox Union
Many cough medicines are formulated as a liquid syrup, which is one of the most effective ways of delivering the active ingredient – dextromethorphan or guaifenesin – into one’s throat. These liquids often contain glycerin, which can be derived either from vegetable oil or animal fat.
The manufacturers of the following products have declared that the following products contain no animal derivatives and the glycerin is not animal based. Although the OU has not independently verified these claims and does not certify these products, the OU poskim have ruled that in this context such a claim is reliable:
- Robitussin DM and Maximum Strength Liquid Cough Medicine
- Mucinex Liquid Cough Medicine
- Quality Choice Liquid Cough Suppressant (99413 appears under the bar code)
The following products do not contain any form of glycerin and can be assumed to be kosher:
- Dayquil and Nyquil Cold and Flu Liquid Medicine (these do not contain glycerin). However, Vapocool Severe, according to the P&G consumer hotline, contains non-kosher glycerin
- Delsym Liquid Cough Medicine (these do not contain glycerin)
Prescription liquid cough medicines which may contain 25% animal glycerin may be used if diluted to a level where the glycerin will be batel bishishim (nullified in 60 parts). This can be accomplished by diluting at a ratio of two teaspoons liquid medicine to five ounces of water, juice or other liquids. Of course, one should check with the doctor or pharmacist to be sure that the effectiveness of the medicine will not be compromised.