February 10, 2014

Will OUÕs Quinoa and Kitniyot Certifications be the Big Story this Passover?

NEW YORK — As Kosher Today prepares to release its annual list of new food products for Passover in its February 24th edition, the focus in many circles is on newly certified items for Passover. It was only a year ago that the Orthodox Union said that it could not certify quinoa because of its close resemblance to grains, potentially causing confusion in the marketplace. But this year, in a reversal of that position, the OU agreed to certify quinoa as kosher for Passover. 

The OU says that it changed its policy on Quinoa after extensive research in the growing fields in South America. The OU will also for the first time issue a Kosher for Passover certification for “kitniyot”  foods. Kitniyot is a category of foods that were forbidden by Ashkenazic custom during Passover because they might be confused with forbidden grains. Included in this group are: beans (all), buckwheat/kasha, caraway, cardamom, chickpeas, corn, fennel, fenugreek, grains-of-paradise, lentils, millet, mustard, peas, poppy seeds, rapeseed/canola, rice, sesame seeds, snow peas, sorghum, sugar-snap peas, soybeans, sunflower seeds and — according to some — include even cottonseed. 

The products will carry the traditional OU-P but will also include the word kitniyot. This is welcome news for Sephardic Jews who according to tradition consume kitniyot during Passover. It is unlikely that there will be any other major breaking news such as items that have already surfaced for Passover such as pizza, bagels, breadcrumbs, croutons, and cereals.