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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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OU Reverses Position and Says Quinoa Can Be Kosher for Passover


Quinoa

Quinoa

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The Orthodox Union (OU) has re-studied its ban on “superfood” quinoa fit to eat on Passover and now says it is perfectly all right to consume it on the holiday without fear of violating the Ashkenazi custom that prohibits eating “kitniyot,” which are grains such as rice, corn and peas.

The Kosher Today publication reported this week , ”Following extensive research and on-site investigation of cross-contamination issues by OU Kosher personnel at all quinoa growing areas…as well as the collection, washing and milling stations of quinoa, OU Kosher is recommending quinoa for Passover, when processed with special OU Passover supervision and bearing the OU-P symbol.”

What changed in a year?

The Jewish Press reported here last March, “It seems that in South America, where it is grown, a wind might blow a grain of barley into cultivated rows of quinoa. Barely, like wheat, is prohibited by the Torah for use on Passover. That is enough for the OU to rule that quinoa is not kosher for Passover.”

The Baltimore-based Star-K kosher supervisors ruled differently. “Rav Moshe Feinstein said we weren’t to add on to the rules of kitniyot, so I don’t know why anyone would,” said Rabbi Tzvi Rosen of Star-K, referring to the esteemed posek of Jewish religious law who died in 1986. “And what’s more telling of this ridiculous debate is that quinoa is a seed, not a legume.”

Last year, Rabbi Genack said, “We can’t certify quinoa because it looks like a grain and people might get confused. It’s a disputed food, so we can’t hold an opinion, and we don’t certify it. Those who rely on the OU for a kashrut just won’t have quinoa on Passover.”

Well, quinoa hasn’t changed; it still looks like a grain, but the OU apparently is basing its new policy, which just happens to bring it line with the far from lenient Star K, on OU supervisors walking in the fields in South America to make sure winds do not pick up a nasty kernel of wheat a couple of miles away and plop it down in the middle of quinoa field.

“It is only recently that quinoa has become popular outside of its high-altitude growing area in the Andean mountain region of South America,” Rabbi Genack said. “Known for its nutritional qualities, it has been referred to as a ‘superfood.’”

The United Nations proclaimed 2013 as “The International Year of Quinoa.”

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About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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15 Responses to “OU Reverses Position and Says Quinoa Can Be Kosher for Passover”

  1. Guy Peters says:

    OU ? וא השם ??

  2. Guy Peters says:

    OU ? וא השם ??

  3. Gary Chuven says:

    OK. But, as my family does not have a tradition about it, it will not be on my Seder table.

  4. לספרדים או לאשכנזים….חחח

  5. Judith Ross says:

    The entire extremist regarding quinoa, etc., is so foolish, as it the insistence that Ashkanazi Jews must not eat certain foods that Sephardim can eat at Pesach. It is a a mishagus, as all it really says in the Torah, is to eat unleaven for seven days. Guess all the companies who make every luxury food imaginable for Pesach would be unhappy if that is all we decided to do.

  6. Alan Lattke says:

    Hate to disappoint Tzvi but I have been eating Quinoa on Passover for quite a while. Have some great Casher le Pesach recipes too.

  7. Nancy Gaines says:

    Ashkenazi Jews should be allowed to eat like the Sephardim on Passover. As modern Jews, we’re no longer forced by climate to eat what’s available in the garden. If that was the case, most of us in the northern US or Canada would starve. Last Passover, we had snow on the ground in the Northeast.

  8. Doreen White says:

    Well it is about time. The plant is actually an herb that thrives in cold, high elevations. While it’s mostly grown in South America, farmers in the Rocky Mountains and in the Pacific Northwest have recently begun cultivating quinoa as well. The seeds are harvested and that is what we cook and eat.So if it is an herb and not a grain it can not be forbidden. Glad that OU has come to that conclusion too.

  9. For me is the last hope!! I definitely can’t eat gluten!!!!

  10. Jo Torres says:

    My husband has diabetes and the doctor put quinoa as a good carb.

  11. kosher guy says:

    this is really interesting because the star-k found q South America there’s barley and other grains used to protect the crop from Birds theY posted pictures on the website last year star k quinoa is supervised from the planting until the harvest and packaging. OU has not only come in line with them and see if they have become even more lenient and maybe missed out!

  12. Judith Ross, Nancy Gaines; Orthodox Judaism is respectful of minhagim. You may think they were foolish, or outdated, but Orthodox Jews believe these minhagim were instituted or at least supported by great scholars and leaders, and with the endorsement of long use, these minhagim acquired a status equal to Halacha. Certainly, a way around it can be found, just as justification for women reading the Megillah or Bentching or paskening can be found. But those communities that avail themselves of this approach slowly but inexorably and finally drift away from Orthodoxy.

  13. Also, quinoa is a protein food, not a carb!!!

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