Matzav.com has learned that shoppers at a number of kosher supermarkets in the tri-state area and beyond have unwittingly purchased – and consumed – kitniyos, not realizing that the items they bought contained ingredients not eaten by Ashkenazim on Pesach.
Kitniyos means legumes, but on Pesach the term takes on a broader meaning to include grains and seeds such as rice, corn, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, peas, and lentils, in addition to legumes.
The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 453) defines kitniyos as those products that can be cooked and baked in a fashion similar to chometz grains, yet are not halachically considered in the same category as chometz. The Bais Yosef permits kitniyos on Pesach, while the Rama rules that kitniyos are forbidden. Therefore, Sefardim consume kitniyos on Pesach, while Ashkenazim follow the Rama’s p’sak, which does not permit the consumption of kitniyos on Pesach.
In two of the handful of cases investigated by Matzav.com, one shopper in Lakewood, NJ, and another in nearby Jackson, NJ, both purchased large bags containing smaller individual bags of a pizza- and ketchup-flavored snack imported from Israel. The outer bag stated nothing about kitniyos, and the store selling the product had no sign regarding the kitniyos contents of the item. The purchasers were both shocked to find, after consuming bags of the product, that the inner packages stated in Hebrew “parve l’ochlei kitniyos bilvad” (parve for those who consume kitniyos) because it contains corn.
They both had no reason to give the packaging a second look, but happened to find the designation.
A picture of one of those products is shown above.
In another instance, a shopper in Marine Park, Brooklyn, related that they bought an item that they thought was kitniyos-free, only to find out that it contained rice.
“There was no notice in the supermarket – a large Jewish one – where I bought it that they were selling items containing kitniyos,” the shopper told Matzav.
In yet another instance confirmed by Matzav, a shopper out of Lawrence, NY, purchased snack item thought to be kitniyos-free, but that contained corn. No sign or designation in the store it was bought from indicated its kitniyos status.
All shoppers are urged to check the packaging of every single food product they buy all year round, but especially on Pesach, even when purchased in a kosher-only store.