The owners of the fast food chain McDonalds’ Israeli concession have been selling on the week of the holiday “Passover Meals” which website Kikar Hashabbat claims are simply not so, thus apparently misleading customers who believe their restaurants have been cleaned for Passover.
Cleaning a restaurant (or any kitchen) for Passover requires a thorough removal of all traces of leavened substances in the manner by which they had been absorbed — so that stoves and ovens must be scrubbed and then fired, metal utensils dipped in boiling water, wood utensils and clay vessels removed completely and replaced, and preparation surfaces made from marble or wood completely covered — and that’s the bare minimum required to make a kitchen “kosher l’Pesach.”
Instead, according to Kikar Hashabbat, McDonalds is selling its customers hamburgers in unleavened buns, using their year-round utensils and vessels, in spaces that have not been cleaned for Passover. In other words, the chain is apparently serving meals which aren’t kosher for Passover to clients who believe they are in keeping with Jewish law. In addition, the chain offers its year-round condiments, declaring that they are not kosher for Passover, and letting the customer decide whether or not to use them.
That last part would suggest that the average McDonalds customer is not really expecting a kosher meal, and the entire presentation is a legal fiction intended to allow the chain to operate on Chol Hamoed (intermediary days) Pesach without violating Israel’s Chametz Law, which prohibits selling leavened products in public during the seven-day holiday. Most Israeli non-kosher restaurants, especially in the more secular-leaning cities, simply ignore the law, and Israeli Jews who want to can get their pizza and falafel in pita on Passover, too. McDonalds might be too big to fail, so to speak, and cannot risk violating state law.
The chain issued a statement saying it runs two kinds of restaurants on Passover: those which are marked in blue have actually been kashered by rabbis and are, indeed, kosher for Passover. The other restaurants have merely switched to buns made from potato flour and to chicken from kosher for Passover plants, and all those good are turned thoroughly chametz on the customer’s plate.
It should be noted that while year-round kashrut requires a minimum portion of non-kosher ingredients to declare a food un-kosher, the Passover requirements are absolutist and forbid any presence whatsoever of leavened food.