Hello, I first want to thank you for all of the wonderful information you provide through the "Ask the Rabbi" section of this site, as well as all of the time and effort you spend answering the questions. I shop at a grocery store that has many bulk bins. Do you recommend avoiding purchasing items from bulk bins? For items that don’t require a hechsher is there a problem with purchasing items this way? More specifically, I purchased some flax meal from one of these bins since I was told flax meal and seeds do not need a hechsher. However, on the nutritional label of the bin there is an allergy statement which reads: this item is packaged in a facility that also handles nuts, wheat, and milk. Can I use the flax meal in a pareve smoothie and drink it while fleishig? Additionally, can I use the flax meal when making baked goods - meaning, can I bake the batter, which has flax in it, in a fleishig pan and oven? Thank you very much.
ב"ה First of all than you for your compliments to the Rabbis of this site. Secondly, I can't give you a generalized answer in regard to bulk bins since the reality may change from place to place. For example, I can't tell you if the bin was previously used with an item containing non- kosher ingredients. So while I won't tell you that it is forbidden neither can I tell there are no problems. So for this particular detail, I suggest to speak to your local Rabbi who should be familiar with the local reality. Thirdly, my understanding of the (secular) law in regard to food allergens is that it only requires food allergens to be identified even if they are in very small amounts, but only when they're contained as an ingredient. However, some manufacturers voluntarily include warnings when these allergens are present in the factory. The law may vary from country to country. From the wording you quoted nutritional label of the bin: "this item is packaged in a facility that also handles nuts, wheat, and milk…" it seems to be the voluntary warning, meaning the flax meal doesn't contain any milk products. Also, since some kashrut agencies have published on their websites, that one is allowed to buy flax meal without hashgacha, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. However, to be 100% sure you can verify these things with the manufacturer or a local kashrut agency. All the best.