Seeking to Untangle the Chodosh Web

23 Adar II 5771
March 29, 2011

cereals-on-shelf-1-smallFollowing the recent JKN posting of an article which clearly pointed out contradictions regarding the chodosh status of certain products available for sale in Israel, the number of requests for clarification continues to grow, prompting this attempt to clear the air if you will.

It should be understood that the information posted by JKN regarding chodosh codes of US products is based on releases from Rabbi Yoseph Herman, considered an expert, one who meticulously monitors and reports the production codes for the benefit of shoppers wishing to use their favorite products, while maintaining an awareness and adherence regarding yoshon/chodosh.

It must be added that based on emails, telephone conversations, and other investigatory means, JKN has learned that the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, Osem and perhaps other major companies and authorities in Israel simply do not do their own homework regarding chodosh/yoshon, but possibly rely on reports from abroad, albeit unofficial reports, supposition and at times it appears, incorrect assumptions. The issue is a complicated one, and I am only providing information that represents the end result of probes, omitting many of the details to limit confusion, but providing sufficient information to support the factual content of the article that follows.

There simply is no logical explanation for the blatant contradictions [appearing in the article linked above] other than the fact that monitoring by the Israeli agencies and rabbonim responsible appears to be lackadaisical and insufficient.

When I spoke with the director of the Chief Rabbinate Import Division some time ago, (see JKN posting of November 4, 2010), Rabbi Lasri explained that his office cannot attest to the legitimacy of the labels on boxes and if one wishes to be absolutely certain regarding the chodosh status, one must track the cereal via the importer and or the distributer. Others, in their correspondence with me, reported similar conversations with the rav. In short, the Chief Rabbinate approval on the black on white sticker is simply meaningless and one therefore must be aware of the codes as per lists circulated throughout the United States. In the rabbi’s own words, if the sticker is legitimate fine, and if not, it is another story. Shoppers who follow codes say things are even worse, and if the sticker is fine by Chief Rabbinate standards, it may however be chodosh based on production codes and the American lists, which are the result of research and monitoring planting, harvest and production, not speculation.

One may prefer to seek out boxes with actual Hebrew printing on the panel, not stickers, as I show in photos below. The Hebrew writing on the panel of the box confirms the OU hechsher as well as the Chief Rabbinate import approval, not a sticker (regarding General Mills cereals including Cheerios and some others). This however does not alleviate contradictions that exist concerning production codes.

I point out, just my own observation mind you, that in the case of the Chief Rabbinate approval and Osem, nowhere do I see the words “not chodosh” or “yoshon”. While rabbonim assure me on the phone all such products are yoshon, we, the consumer, see no such claim in writing, perhaps a backdoor disclaimer, not sure, just an observation which I share with you. In actuality, at times it does appear in writing, but if such a statement is not based on a credible source, it is not too helpful. Some items on supermarket shelves bearing a hechsher state clearly on the product packaging that it is yoshon. Shouldn’t the Chief Rabbinate and/or Osem do the same, thereby eliminating the need for concerned consumers to begin tracking down the phone numbers of rabbonim to launch an inquiry? After all, this is Israel, not the United States and we are dealing with the Chief Rabbinate and Osem, not General Mills.

I also mentioned in that same article that Rabbi Charlop of Osem told me on the phone that his company only imports yoshon, as he has told many who have inquired. Readers have shared similar conversations with me after checking with Osem’s rav hamachshir. In the case of cereals, this is applicable regarding the Nestle label, but I have since learned that Osem’s rav appears to rely on what he thinks is the case, not actually checking the realities pertaining to wheat and chodosh/yoshon status in the USA. It appears from my understanding that Osem relies on the Chief Rabbinate [as per documents on file with JKN], and the latter seems to point to the OU but admittedly, this too seems unclear.

To me, it is apparent that Osem has a “shitta” about their chodosh dates. There are two issues here; their dates are not based on research [as it appears] and the dates that were provided by the rabbi were the beginning of November. This date was passed by two months on two Osem products, hence, not adhering to the company’s own kashrus guidelines, andin one case, exceeding the cutoff date by 2.5 months!

OU officials in the United States are very clear, as is the kashrus agency’s norm regarding policy matters, and the OU does not assume any responsibility for supervising Nestle cereal storage facilities regarding yoshon and as such, one mustn’t make assumptions that the OU assumes any responsibility for General Mills or Nestle cereals in Israel regarding yoshon/chodosh.

In fact, it the OU symbol does appear on a box of General Mills or Nestle cereal in Israel, it is an indicator that it was manufactured and packaged in the United States and therefore, the same code system applies, as I explained earlier in the article.

Any assumption that the US coding system on items produced and packaged in the USA is not applicable here regarding yoshon/chodosh is simply erroneous, and if there is a contradiction, one should/must follow the US coding guidelines. How and why agencies and rabbonim here place their name on items that may or are in fact chodosh is for them to explain but the facts speak for themselves.

These issues include a number of cereals imported from abroad which are popular among former N. Americans, seen in many an Orthodox yeshiva and seminary, including but not limited to Cheerios, Multi Grain Cheerios, and Fiber 1. By the way, these have an OU but Nestle Crunch cereal does not. It has another hechsher so as always, check each item for the hechsher you trust and don’t make assumptions. Some cereals, such as the Nestle Crunch are dairy as well, not chalav yisrael if that speaks to you.

I mention in my lectures that the OU and other hechsherim urge consumers to never rely on import/distributer stickers alone, but to seek out the hechsher on an original factory packaging. If one does not see a hechsher on an original package, one may never assume it is covered by the sticker, and one must assume the sticker is bogus.

Another product on the Israeli market that may present a chodosh problem this year is Pringles potato chips, which uses a wheat starch in the production process, which may be derived from winter or spring wheat. JKN has learned that this year, due to monetary considerations, spring wheat is more likely, and if that was the case, then there is a chodosh issue, but this would only be detected if one did actual tracking, not relying on “the norm” or “speculation”, which appears to be the case. I simply cannot say since I am not an expert, but I know the stickers on the cylindrical cans don’t mean much as we are learning. Once again, some flavors of Pringles are dairy/ non-chalav yisrael if that matters.

As such, shoppers purchasing imports who do not wish to bring chodosh items into their homes are urged to familiarize themselves with Rabbi Herman’s list and the system of understanding production codes.

While there are rules and regulations governing kashrus, in this case, chodosh/yoshon; there is a serious lack of monitoring and enforcement and in short, consumers are left to fend for themselves. That means we must become educated and empowered and stop making assumptions that too often prove incorrect.

I choose to also include a story of a homemade flyer that was used in a Jerusalem neighborhood; successfully I may add, towards compelling or pressuring store owners to remove unwanted items. In this case, a chareidi area, parents did not want the non-chalav yisrael items sold, fearing their children and perhaps local Israelis unfamiliar with foreign hechsher designations may unknowingly purchase such items. The organizers tried and succeeded in informing neighbors that stickers alone on products are meaningless or inadequate at best.

Well, once again, community pressure worked and the items were removed since store owners wish to make a living, and if the community is unhappy, profits plummet. It is simple economics and the message is we alone must undertake reform, because it is not coming from the officials. It must be a grassroots effort. If you sit back waiting for the system to change, it will be a long haul.

I would like to suggest that readers who are not certain as to the halachic realities of chodosh take the time to review articles appearing on the website. Two that may prove helpful are written by Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff.

(1) Can the Hechsher HACK it?
(2) Chodosh in Chul

I am not an expert on chodosh, and don’t have Rabbi Herman’s codes memorized. Many who wish to use certain products familiarize themselves with production codes of companies, such as General Mills.

Unfortunately, the awareness here regarding the halachos of chodosh is weak among many who make genuine efforts towards maintaining a high level of kashrus. Assumptions made by some include it takes six months from planting until harvest, a misnomer. It is true that this is the Gemara in Shekalim, but one must realize that in the United States, it takes between 110-and130 days according to the experts, which points to the Tosfos in Baba Basra, which says that it is not surprising if it takes only three months.

This year was particularly difficult because almost all barley, oats and wheat where not planted before Pesach. It takes two weeks for grains to reach the factories and after three weeks the majority of wheat in America becomes chodosh. So you see; if you wish to use yoshon, and enjoy products manufactured outside of Israel, you owe it to yourself, family and guests to familiarize yourself with the halachos of chodosh and the production codes list, with methodology varying from company to company. Alternatively, one can buy locally produced products with good hechsherim and avoid the concerns of chodosh arriving in products from abroad.

If you look at one of the photos below, the top of a box of Cheerios photographed in Geula, it shows a code of 0264, which for General Mills means the year 2000 (the ‘0’) and the 264th day of the year. Just an example. Another clue — when wheat and oats come into the Israeli market (August for wheat), choose a cereal of which the date shows it was made in January, and the code will then speak for itself.

Regarding Post cereals, I photographed two, Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles, both certified by the OK hechsher. The hechsher from the OK is visible on the original carton, and on the side panel is the Hebrew sticker confirming the hechsher and import approval. I took this to mean the OK certifies the chodosh status. WRONG!

Next to the OK hechsher it states there is no fear of chodosh (See photos below). I contacted the OK to ask if this statement is made by the OK and learned it is not, but “the Chief Rabbinate’s designation”, with the OK adding the agency does not certify for chodosh.

So you see, reality here in Israel regarding chodosh it is not what many of us believe and the issue needs clearly defined guidelines, monitoring and enforcement in my opinion.

The third and last issue of the Guide to Chodosh has gone to the printer. It should be put into the mail to be send to the local distributors and individual subscribers by the end of the week, by Feb 26 11. It is already available outside my home in Monsey for $5.

Those in the USA should be receiving by the start of March. Meanwhile you can request a copy of the latest Guide by email, as usual, by sending an email message to ONE of the following addresses; or

Those who have access to email can have important corrections and updates sent to their email address automatically. To subscribe to this free service send a blank email message to:


What a production code looks like

What a production code looks like


OU visible on the original carton, bottom left

OU visible on the original carton, bottom left

Chief Rabbinate approval - adding no chodosh

Chief Rabbinate approval - No mention regarding chodosh status

A Nestle cereal, OU-D on bottom right

A Nestle cereal, OU-D on bottom right




Shoprite cereals for sale too, these with an OU

Shoprite cereals for sale too, these with an OU


Post cereals with an OK hechsher

Post cereals with an OK hechsher, bottom middle-to-left


OK assumes no responsibility for 'no chodosh' claim

OK hechsher ssumes no responsibility for 'no chodosh' claim


Nestle Crunch - No OU here

Nestle Crunch - No OU here


Nestle side panel - Beit Din Paris, Chief Rabbinate approved. No mention of chodosh status

Nestle side panel - Beit Din Paris, Chief Rabbinate approved. No mention of chodosh status

Nestle Fitness - No American hechsher here either

Nestle Fitness - No American hechsher here either

Nestle Crunch - date 16 Dec, six weeks past Osem deadline

Nestle Crunch - Dated 16 Dec, six weeks past November cutoff date

Cheerios - dates January, a far cry from November deadline

Cheerios - datedJanuary, well past November deadline


  • Yehoshua D
    March 29, 2011 - 09:06 | Permalink

    As far as I know, Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles are rice cereals, with no chodosh issues.

  • EG
    March 30, 2011 - 16:10 | Permalink

    Shalom Yehoshua- re Pepples cereals- we don’t have them in our local stores so I can’t check myself, but maybe they contain malt or starch from one of chameishes minay dagan? (I think there was a machlokes re malt and chadash)- best to ask Rav Herman!

  • Simon
    March 30, 2011 - 17:50 | Permalink

    The American OU and the Cheif Rabbanut do not claim to be mehadrin agencies. There is heterim for chodosh from חו”ל, or at least to not ask too many questions about it, so I don’t think they are at fault, and they shouldn’t be asked to say something is yoshon when they have not been paid to do the necessary work to be able to safely make such a statement.

    If one wants a higher level of supervision on a specific issue, it might be necessary to pay more money or go without a certain product, and not to expect a regular kashrus agency to give a more strict level of comfort on something. You can’t have your cake and eat it, no pun intended!

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