Kashrus Kuestions – Eating Out (004)

Question: I am going to a restaurant. How can I know if I may eat there? (004)

First find out which hecsher it has. If you recognize it as a reliable hechsher (i.e. you’ve been told in the recent past by your Rav or halachic advisor that this hechsher is reliable) then you may eat there without concern. If you do not recognize the hechsher you may wish to call your Rav to see if he may have more information for you. If this doesn’t work, and you must go to this restaurant (e.g. you’re being taken there by your boss) things will be complicated.

Firstly asking a mashgiach questions when: A) you don’t have a real background in halacha and kashrus and B) you don’t even know if his answers are trustworthy is a waste of time. All mashgichim are capable of “selling” their restaurant to people who are not affluent in the area of kashrus.

So what can you do? Eating the foods which they prepare is not recommended since the potential problems are endless. Such problems include bishul akum, bug checking, yayin nesech, challah, terumos u’maasros, etc.

When necessary, you can ask the mashgiach or anyone working there to how you the hecsher of the foods which they but ‘ready made’ such as breads, spreads, cheeses, fruits and vegetable, etc. assuming the hechsher is reliable and you have no bug issues, you’ll be safe eating those product as long as they haven’t been ‘doctored up’. For example, you can eat bug free vegetables plain. If there’s salad dressing and spices you’ll have to know about their hechsher too. You can eat the cheeses which have a reliable hechsher but if they are lying on other cheeses which are not reliable you’ll have to scrub it off well. You can eat spreads (techina, chumos…) but if they put a piece of parsley into the middle of the parsley and the parsley is not bug free, the spreads become problematic. As I said – it’ll be complicated. Make sure you carry a cell phone ad the number of your Rav.

Rabbi Yehuda Baum


Rabbi Yehuda Baum serves as a Posek in the Sanhedria Murchevet – Ramat Eshkol neighborhoods. He has been a part of the Mir Yeshiva for over 15 years, leads various Kollels, teaches in Seminaries, and is the American Mohel of the neighborhoods.

In his spare time he answers questions in Halacha including Kashrus queries. He can be reached at 052- 764-BRIS (2747).

One comment

  • Chaim
    July 27, 2009 - 10:26 | Permalink

    With all due respect, I feel that Rabbi Baum is making 2 highly offensive assumptions:
    1. The kashrut-observing public is too ignorant to ask basic kashrut questions.
    2. The mashgichim for the “non-reliable” hechsherim (a euphemism for the Rabbanut?) not only don’t do their jobs properly but are also liars.

    In addition, there are many problems that can be solved easily. Not sure if they took challah? Take a few crumbs and say “הרי זו חלה”. Not sure if they took trumot and maasrot? Take from what you have on your plate.

    Ascertaining the level of kashrut in said “unreliable” places is actually very simple. The main questions to ask are:
    a) Are you 100% sure that there are no issues of בישול עכו”ם? (more complicated for sephardim)
    b) Are the leafy vegetables from a proper bug-free brand AND washed properly?
    c) Who checks the flour/rice/etc.?
    d) Do you personally check that the fruits and vegetables arrived with the proper kashrut seals? (Restaurants are supposed to receive their produce ready to use and aren’t supposed to be dealing with trumot u’maasrot)
    e) In a meat restaurant: who supervises the preparation of the liver, and are they careful to keep separate utensils for liver? (Obviously in these “unreliable” places the meat is likely to not be glatt)

    Want to be a little more direct with the mashgiach? Ask him simply if it’s proper for a “ben Torah” who’s very careful about kashrut to be eating there.
    Want to be even more direct and a little pushy? Cut right to the chase and ask the mashgiach if he would eat there, and if not then why.

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