August 31, 2009

More Kosher Consumers Request ÒYoshonÓ

Teaneck, NJ…Kosher caterers in many parts of the New York Metropolitan area have become accustomed to demands for “Yoshon,” grain that has taken root before the second day of Passover. Many supermarkets flag the Yoshon feature on baked goods and other products made with flour. More recently, the Kof-K, a major certification agency based in Teaneck, partnered with ConAgra Foods to provide Yoshon products. The Kof-K certifies more than 20 flour mills throughout the U.S. ConAgra Foods is one of the largest producers of flour world-wide. The Kof-K explains that the second day of Passover was when the offering (korban) of the Omer was made during the times of the Temple (Beis Hamikdash). While this grain was permissible to be eaten, any grain which took root afterwards would be stored until the next year’s korban was brought before it too could be used. Yoshon today is almost a given in Israel, but is increasingly in demand in the US, according to kosher retailers and caterers. Yoshon was not as widely available in the U.S. for many years, since most mills were reluctant to participate due to the complexities and the stringencies involved in its storing. Until now, Yoshon flour was mostly available by frozen stock and for bulk purchases only. The flour mills that did provide Yoshon flour did so at a huge financial risk, because there was no guarantee that all the flour would be used and there was still a big problem of bug infestation, which would wipe out entire stock piles, despite being in cold storage. For the first time ever, an entire plant in Denver and a ConAgra wheat storage house is devoted exclusively to Yoshon. The Kof-K has a kosher supervisor on location for packing and sealing the rail cars used for transport, as well as on location at ConAgra’s Bronx Terminal distribution center. Trucks are cleaned in preparation for the Yoshon flour and a seal is placed on each truck as it sets out to the purchasing bakeries. And since the flour will be completely fresh, not in frozen storage, the bugs issue and quality control issues are all but eliminated.