Coconut oil: It’s the 2016 Pesach issue that just won’t quit.
Three weeks ago, I shared with you a link to this year’s OU Guide to Passsover. Among other things, it said in the guide that coconut oil would require a special P hechsher to be used for Passover this year. This was a deviation from year’s past, when we were able to purchase Spectrum Coconut Oil with a regular OU during Passover.
My friend Susie emailed the OU several weeks ago, and was told told that the special Passover run was on the Organic Unrefined 14 oz. jar and would be distributed nationwide.
Unfortunately, I checked several different stores here in Cleveland (where I live) but was not able to find a “P” jar of Spectrum anywhere.
Early in April, I heard from a KOAB reader who likewise couldn’t find a “P” jar. So she called the OU and was told that she could buy without a P. That prompted me to contact them myself – and I, too, was told that a “P” is not required, as long as I purchase the unrefined coconut oil.
Here’s a screen shot of that chat, which I shared with you all on April 13.
In the week since that post, I have received several emails and Private Messages from KOAB readers who have followed up on this — as I suggested — directly with the OU. Roughly half of them were told the same thing — that a “p” was not necessary.
But others were given opposite information — i.e. that the Spectrum coconut oil did in fact require an OUP. For example, just today a KOAB reader shared this screenshot of her email exchange with the OU.
Note that her answer came from Zvi. Interestingly, that is the same person (or at least the same name) that my response came from.
As more and more readers were contacting me, frustrated and confused, I decided that I would reach out to the OU to see if I could an official response regarding coconut oil, once and for all. I wanted to know officially whether the Spectrum unrefined coconut oil can be used without a P on Pesach — and if not, why so many of us were informed that it could be.
I was told that Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, Senior Rabbinic coordinator at the OU and senior editor of the OU Passover Guide, would have the final answer to this question. Although I wasn’t able to speak with him directly, I was in contact with someone in the OU marketing department, who asked this question of Rabbi Rabinowitz and provided me with his written response.
This year a special run was made with OUP and the OU has stopped recommending the non-OUP product for Pesach.
I do not know of any inconsistencies in “this year’s” guide…
That’s the story, the whole story and nothing but the story.
From this, I understand that despite the information to the contrary from the OU’s Passover chat line, Spectrum coconut oil must have the “P” this year.
And there you have it: the final (I hope) word on using Spectrum coconut oil for Passover 2016.
I realize that many of you may be feeling like this is as clear as mud (truth be told, I am similarly confused and a tad bit frustrated about the whole back-and-forth, too). Therefore, if you have any questions at all, I urge you to contact your local rabbi — or the OU directly.
Chag Kasher v’Sameach!