Peasch: Are gluten-free products kosher for Pesach?
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Are gluten-free products kosher for Pesach?
In today’s day and age, when the food companies are required to specify the ingredients they use on packaging, one might think that it is sufficient to check whether the ingredients are kosher. Natural food coloring derived from wheat, flour additives, and unlisted ingredients (such as preservatives and ingredients below a certain threshold) prevalent in food today underlines the fact that food must have kashrut supervision, especially for Pesach. This might not seem the case with gluten-free products, though, since companies are extra careful about excluding wheat to avoid lawsuits.
Our Sages state that only the five species of grain can become leavened, i.e. chametz (wheat, barely, spelt, rye, and oats), and this status is not nullified in any ratio on Pesach (there are disagreements among the poskim regarding nullification in mixtures before Pesach). Oats do not contain gluten, so anything gluten-free would not necessarily be chametz-free. Furthermore, many companies produce “gluten-free” products that are wheat based, but where the gluten is separated from the wheat. Contemporary poskim dispute whether the manufacturing processes when gluten is separated from starch to produce citric acid is permitted for use on Pesach. Even those who do permit this do so when many other criteria are met, such as the presence of leavening-inhibiting chemicals during the process.
In conclusion, we see that gluten-free is not synonymous with “kosher for Pesach,” and that products without specific supervision may very well be chametz. Gluten-free products that are certainly not wheat-based should be put away; those that are or may be a chametz mixture (ta’arovet chametz) should be sold (even by those who do not sell chametz gamur). Gluten-free products that are chametz gamur, such as oat bread, can be sold but many throw these away.
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