Are OU potato chips bishal akum?

Answer:

There is no problem of bishul akum in any type of potato chips.

Sources: Potato chips are a snack, which is not consumed at meals. The Gemara teaches that only those foods which are served at a king’s table together with bread are prohibited (see Rambam, Laws of Forbidden Foods 17:15, who uses the same expression). The implication is that only foods served as part of a meal are prohibited.

Although Rambam adds (17:18-19) that even parperes, which is usually understood as a dessert, is prohibited, such foods remain a part of the meal—Rashi writes the parperes is classically food and drink (such as fish or wine) served as an introduction or conclusion to the meal. However, the prohibition would not apply to snacks (such as potato chips) that have no connection whatsoever with a meal. Thus, even if a king might sometimes eat a snack, this would not place the snack under the prohibition of bishul akum, because the snack is not eaten as part of a meal. In addition, the use of the expression “a king’s table” implies that only those foods conventionally served at an important meal are prohibited, and not foods that would be out of place at an important meal (the reasoning being that unimportant foods would not lead to invitations and closeness between Jews and non-Jews).

Thus we find that Peri Chadash (113:2) writes that foods that are served for dessert alone are permitted, a ruling confirmed by Chasam Sofer (annotations to Shulchan Aruch, 113:1; see, however Beis Meir 111). The same would apply to potato chips and similar snacks.

Tags: Bishul Akum

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3 Responses to “Bishul Akum for Potato Chips”

  1. Kvod haRav, I would not argue with your psak, but I would like to point out that are some Poskim who held that potato chips do fall under the sheilah of bishul akum – for they hold its halachic status follows the min, not necessarily the actual cooked item. Meaning, since there are some form of potatoes that can be made into something “Oleh al shulchan melachim” (notwithstanding the famous machlokes between the Chochmas Adam and Aruch HaShulchan about potatoes, brought in an earlier post), these poskim hold one should be machmir on all forms of potaoes. Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l (Emes l’Yaakov on Shu”A -113) as well as Rav Elyashiv Shlit”a (heard from Rabbi Nochum Eisenstein shlit”a) hold this way. I’m not at all saying one is required to pasken this way, but either way it’s an important yedia, as the Eida Charedis is machmir for this shitta – ensuring that their potato chips are bishul yisrael, to be yotzei kol hadeyos.

    kol tuv,
    Y. Spitz
    Rosh Chabura
    Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel
    Yerushalayim

    • Thank you for the important comment. The opinion you mention seems to be somewhat difficult, because if we follow the “raw ingredients” all forms of pastry, cookies, various breakfast cereals (such as cheerios, bran flakes, and so on), and many other foods, would all be included in the prohibition. Surely the exclusion of parperes from the prohibition of bishul akum implies that we do not follow raw materials, but rather the nature of the finished product?

  2. Kvod HaRav,
    Even though I would agree with you, still
    I don’t think their kavanna is “raw materials” per se. Rather it means the actual type of food – the “min”; for example – if a tuna steak can be considered “oleh al shulchan melachim”, then according to this opinion one must be machmir that even canned tuna falls under the category of bishul akum, even though no one would say canned tuna is actually “oleh al shulchan melachim” and therefore still require bishul yisrael. Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt”l in his sefer was actually talking about potato chips that he required bishul yisrael, ayin sham.
    kol tuv,
    Y. Spitz
    Rosh Chabura
    Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel
    Yerushalayim

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