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Is Coca Cola Kosher?

I've noticed religious Jews buying Coke at my local supermarket, but I don’t understand how it can be kosher if the formula is a big secret. Also, it doesn't say "kosher" anywhere on the label.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

This is a fascinating question. Coke is kosher because it has proper rabbinical supervision. The fact that nothing is printed on the label is a marketing decision by the company.

But you raise the obvious question: Everybody knows that the formula for Coca-Cola is one of the greatest all-time secrets. So how can the rabbi possibly know what he is supervising? Only two top executives actually have access to the information, and the Coca-Cola company has many guidelines to guarantee the safety of the secret.

Legend tells of one ingenious solution: The Coca-Cola company gave the rabbi a long list of ingredients (with no mention of the quantities), only some of which are actually in Coke itself. The rabbi approved the entire list, and the company only uses part of the list in actual production.

The truth is probably more along these lines: The supervising rabbi knows the formula, and was trusted to simply sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Here's another "kosher Coke tidbit:" One of the main ingredients in Coke is corn syrup, which Jews do not eat during Passover. So in cities with large Jewish populations, the local Coca-Cola bottling company will make a special batch of Coke using sugar instead. Actually, the original Coke formula called for sugar, and it was only in recent years that the company switched to high fructose corn syrup. So it turns out that once a year, Coke aficionados (from all ethnic persuasions) scout out supermarkets in Jewish neighborhoods – buying up caseloads of "the real thing!"

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Due to limited resources, the Ask the Rabbi service is intended for Jews of little background with nowhere else to turn. People with questions in Jewish law should consult their local rabbi. Note that this is not a homework service!

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