Yeshiva Week: The OU Answers Your Vacation Kashrut Questions
By the OU Kosher Halacha Yomit Team
Can I drink coffee at a non-certified restaurant?
There is a halachic concern about coffee prepared in non-kosher restaurants because the equipment used to prepare the coffee may be washed in a dishwasher with non-kosher items. It is possible that even so, the coffee equipment may remain kosher. There are a number of variables which could impact the kosher status, such as, the introduction of soap, the temperature of the water, the method of washing (kli rishon vs kli sheini), etc. Nonetheless, due to the uncertainty and ambiguity of each situation, as a general rule, the OU does not recommend the consumption of coffee prepared in a non-kosher restaurant.
Is coffee from convenience stores, rest stops, and kiosks acceptable to purchase without certification?
In contrast to the response given regarding coffee prepared in a non-certified restaurant, it is permissible to purchase a cup of unflavored coffee from a convenience store, rest stop or kiosk. This is because these types of establishments generally do not prepare non-kosher food, or, even if they do, dishes and utensils are washed by hand in a sink and not in a dishwasher.
Can in-room hotel ovens or microwaves be used without kashering?
It is possible to use a non-kosher microwave or oven by double wrapping the food item. If using a microwave, one may poke a small hole in each cover so that the steam can escape and the package will not explode.
Do fresh pomegranate seeds need a hechsher?
According to the OU, as long as it says that it is not from Israel it is okay to eat.
Do shelled nuts need a hechsher year round?
According to the OU, no hechsher is needed provided that they are raw and no additional ingredients are used in the processing.
Are dried fruits okay to eat without a hechsher?
According to the OU, most are okay to eat – except for dried cranberries.
Can one eat an ice cream or yogurt store product that has been scooped from a container that bears OU certification?
In some instances, the OU certifies an entire store. In such cases, the OU letter of certification will state that a particular store located in a specific location is under OU supervision. Obviously, one can eat everything in a certified store. However, it is often the case that the OU certifies a brand name ice cream or yogurt, but the OU does not certify the store that sells the product, even though the store has the same brand name as the product. In this latter instance, the OU only certifies sealed containers bearing the OU symbol. Once the container is opened, the OU no longer vouches for the kosher integrity of the item, as the scoop may have been previously used for non-certified flavors.
For more information on travel, see the OU's travel guide on their website HERE.
For more kashrut questions (and answers) when traveling see below: