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B and J controversy


Rabbi David Sperling

Elul 18, 5781
Dear Rabbi, Does the controversy over Ben and Jerrys ice cream affect the kashrut status at all? If someone buys and eats it, is that problematic?
Shalom, Thank you for your question. In general, the political beliefs held by a manufacturer should not affect the kashrut status of a product they make. Whether a person is right or left, pro or against any given idea will not change the fact that their ice-cream is kosher or not, as the case may be. The greatest lover of Israel who makes pig fat ice cream will not receive a kosher stamp, and the opposite is true also, that even if a person has anti-Israel beliefs, if they make kosher ice cream it will be kosher. However, there are two points to take into consideration. Firstly, ever community has the halachic (i.e. according to religious law) power to place a ban on many things. They can forbid certain actions, expel people from taking part in the community, etc. This being so, if the Rabbis in your community choose to place a ban on this ice cream, all members of the community (whether they agree or not) would then be forbidden to eat it. I am unaware if this is the case in your community in connection with Ben and Jerrys. Secondly, all manufactured products today need Rabbinic supervision to guarantee that they are kosher. One cannot rely on the label, nor the manufactures word (as they have a vested interest). This being so, if the Rabbinic certifying agency removed their supervision from the ice cream, then any ice cream produce after there was no supervision would be forbidden to eat, as we would not know if it was kosher. This would be true despite any claims by the company that “it’s still the same old ice cream” – we just would not be halachically allowed to rely on such statements. I hope this information helps you – as you can see, you will need to check out what is the present situation with the ice cream in your location in relation to these two points in order to know if you can continue to eat it in the future. Blessings.
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