Eating In A Non-Kosher Ice Cream Shop
By Rabbi Pesach Weitz
It has become commonplace for ice cream and frozen yogurt shops that are not under kosher supervision to display kosher certificates that were issued for their ice cream and yogurt suppliers. This is very misleading.
First, the ice creams and yogurts in that facility are not all necessarily the products that the certificates attest to. Distributors and suppliers routinely deliver product that is not quite what the restaurateur ordered. Perhaps the supplier ran out of that exact product. Perhaps another one was slightly less expensive. Perhaps there is a new type of product the distributor wants to market.
Second, even if everything in the store is normally from a particular manufacturer, occasionally, when the store runs out of a product, they will purchase another that is not from the manufacturer listed on the letter of certification. There is little (if any) incentive – and no oversight supervision – to insure that the product “advertised” in the kosher letter posted in the window will always be the same product being scooped from the container.
Third, not all the toppings and syrups are necessarily kosher. Hot fudge, gummi products, marshmallows, and unlabeled syrups are often problematic. Additionally, sodas, milkshakes, coffees, and teas can pose significant kashrus issues. Even when we intend to buy “just ice cream,” the allure of the myriad toppings can derail our better judgment.
Fourth, when people see a religious Jew entering a store to purchase a supervised item, onlookers assume thateverything in the store is kosher. After all, who would think that an observant Jew would buy in a non-kosher restaurant? Thus, even if you are certain that the product you are about to purchase is kosher, you may be seriously misleading other people and causing them to buy non-kosher food.
Lastly, the kosher community should give a great deal of credit to stores that pay for kosher supervision. Such businesses are often at a disadvantage in that they have expenditures and product restrictions that non-kosher places do not have and, especially if Jewish owned, are generally closed on the busiest days and nights of the ice cream buying week. Is it fair to patronize the business that does everything NOT to be kosher certified rather than the one that goes the extra mile to insure that you can purchase any item in the store knowing that a kashrus agency regularly inspects the store to insure kosher compliance?
Therefore, the ORB recommends that unsupervised ice cream and frozen yogurt stores, even if they carry kosher products, should be passed over in favor of fully kosher-certified stores.
“You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream.” This old ditty still rings true today. Ice cream and frozen yogurt are some of the best treats one can buy. Let’s make sure we are buying 100% guaranteed kosher treats. And remember to thank the store owner for being kosher certified as well. He’ll appreciate it, and you’ll be making a statement that kosher is important.