Harvesting quinoa (Bloomberg)
Harvesting quinoa, a herb that people eat like grain, in Bolivia. Photo by Bloomberg
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Wikimedia Commons
Quinoa plants near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

American Jews have been given the go-ahead to include quinoa in their Passover menus. The ancient South American staple, which looks and behaves like a grain but is actually a herb, is now under the supervision of the Kashrut Division of the Orthodox Union.

"It was a concern but now it's fine, it's supervised. You can use it on Passover," said Rabbi Michael Balinsky, executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis, who was quoted in the Chicago Tribune.

The issue until now has been the lack of supervision, leading to concerns that the quinoa might be grown next to fields of grains or transported in sacks used to carry grains. There have also been concerns over whether it was processed in the same facility as other grains, making it likely that small amounts of barley or oats could have cross-contaminated the quinoa crop.

”We are the largest certification company in the world and wanted to do our own research. Before we certify something we want to be 1,000 percent sure," said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, C.O.O. of the Kashrut Division of the Orthodox Union.
"We sent a rabbi (to South America) who works for us, who lived in Chile, speaks the language, knows the culture, and he was able to determine quinoa fields that were not near any grain fields."

Two of the brands that the Orthodox Union certifies for Passover use are Goobaums and Pereg. If shopping for kosher for Passover quinoa, be sure to check for the O/U-p designation on the label of these products.

Cooks can also look for quinoa packaging that bears a kosher-for-Passover certification label from other agencies such as Star-K or the Chicago Rabbinic Council. It will be from a run of production that had full-time supervision by Kashrut authorities, such as the Ancient Harvest brand.

Gefilte fish kosher for Passover?

In another Passover development, a leading Bnei Brak rabbi has called for a consumer boycott of carp, due to the currently inflated prices of the staple ingredient of gefilte fish.

The call, which many regard as having the effect of a rabbinical ruling, was published in the ultra-Orthodox newspaper Hamodiya.

Other rabbis were quoted in the newspaper as saying that they would follow the ruling.