Kosher Korner – All the news that’s fit to eat

The Jewish Federation of Ottawa is happy to launch a new E-Bullletin initiative to help share the work of the
Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut. Ever feel confused about kosher rules? Do you have questions about the whys and hows? The Kosher Korner aims to help shed light on the important and sometimes complicated world of kashrut.

Test your knowledge of kashrut and our community resources by taking this short quiz.

Q and A with Rabbi T:

Over the years, Rabbi Levy Teitlebaum, Director of the OVH has been asked to make some very interesting kashrut questions.  

Q: What is the weirdest thing you were asked to certify?

A: It was cat food! A fish cannery once approached me seeking kosher certification for their canned fish. Such canneries are unique in that their canning season can be as short as a few weeks per year.  The cannery did not want their equipment to remain idle, so they investigated options to produce other items throughout the year and received a request to make fish-based cat food under private label. I certainly wanted to help their business grow, so we researched the ingredients, vitamins, and minerals to ensure the recipe conformed to all kosher requirements. If approved, the outcome would be that their equipment remains kosher year-round and, as an added bonus, kosher consumers would have kosher cat food bowls that can be washed n their dishwasher.  

Did the project come to fruition? I'm under a strict code of meow.

Q: How can a non-kosher eatery serve kosher food?

A: This is a fantastic question! The first thing to look at is compatibility. Let's examine a bagel shop; It's often the case that a bagel shop will sell lots of items besides bagels. In fact, they'll often make and sell sandwiches that contain non-kosher foods (ie bacon). To start, we'll look to ensure the bagel recipe is kosher, and that there are no crossover issues with other ingredients used elsewhere onsite. We'll also ensure we understand how the bagels are made, and what equipment is used. For example, a bagel oven is a different machine from a double-deck convection oven. The heat distribution and method of cooking in a bagel oven are different enough to effect a change in the crusting of the bagel. Hence, one would not bake bagels in a convection oven. In addition, the volume of bagels baked by a bagel oven could not be accommodated by a traditional convection oven. Therefore, it can be established that nothing other than bagels are baked in the bagel oven. If we learn that other products are made in the bagel oven, ie pizza crust, we need to establish if there is potential for mixing of kosher and non-kosher ingredients in the oven.  

The next step is to ascertain that the restaurant uses designated equipment including jacketed steam kettle, bagel peels, bagel boards, workstations and other related items for only the bagels. Then we can determine if kosher certification can be granted.

It’s a very detail orientated process, but one that is important to ensure that everyone in the Jewish community feels comfortable eating the bagels and that our hechsher (kosher certification) holds up to scrutiny.

If you would like to submit a kosher question for another edition of Kosher Korner, please email Jodi Green at