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OU Kosher, a leader in Passover preparation and kosher certification, has introduced a new symbol of authorization for Passover products: OU Kitniyot. The symbol will appear on packaging with the explanatory message “Acceptable for those who consume kitniyot on Passover.”
During the Passover holiday, which this year runs from March 25 through April 2, Ashkenazic Jews avoid kitniyot (legumes such as beans, corn, lentils, millet, mustard, peas, poppy seeds, rice, sesame seeds, soybeans and sunflower seeds), while those of Sephardic descent eat them. The Ashkenazic custom is thought to have arisen in antiquity because kitniyot are often grown close to to the five grains (wheat, oat, spelt, rye and barley), and because kitniyot can be easily confused with leaven (chametz) or vice versa.
Even among non-Ashkenazic Jews who consume kitniyot during Passover, care must be taken because kitniyot may be processed in ways that render them impermissible.
“Previously, the OU has not issued certification for retail kitniyot products for Passover, due to the concern that different symbols of kosher authorization might confuse consumers,” explained Rabbi Moshe Elefant,COO of New York-based OU Kosher. “The OU Kitniyot symbol is presented in such manner so as to avoid any confusion, and the packages will not show ‘Kosher for Passover’ except as indicated.”
The label can now be found on a limited number of products, among them the Hagada Cookies Series, Papachoudo Cookies, Osem Bamba, Neptune Spices and Shkediya Sunflower Seeds.
“While OU Kosher has for years been approving OU industrial kitniyot products for the benefit of the Sephardic community, this has been in the realm of industrial and institutional ingredients,” noted Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, OU Kosher senior rabbinic coordinator. “This decision was taken at the urging of our poskim (deciders of Jewish law), to benefit the many kitniyot consumers who relied on various assumptions -- rather than actual certification -- for kitniyot Passover products.”