Due to the space limitations of a text message, please note that it is particularly important to read carefully, pay close attention to the context of the question, and use the answers as a springboard for further study.
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Q: I saw something labeled Rock Cod Steak at the Ranch Market in The Chinese Cultural Center Mall that had definite scales. It was fresh. Do you happen to know if that is a kosher fish? Thanks so much!
A: Yes, any fish with scales, no matter what it’s called, is kosher
Q: Is canned corn with a hechsher I don’t normally use OK?
A: Even according to some of the stricter national kashrus organizations, Del Monte, Kirkland (Costco), and Walmart canned vegetables with a Triangle-K may be used, as long as they have no natural flavors, tomato products, asparagus, potatoes, spinach, and beets.
Q: I noticed a kosher symbol on bottled water. Does bottled water really require certification?
A: All bottled water is acceptable.
Q: I heard some people don’t use vegetable peelers on Shabbat. what is the concern? And is it permissible?
A: They can be used on Shabbat. Many authorities hold that a peeler is a specialized borer (selection) tool. R. Moshe Feinstein (as quoted in The Shabbos Kitchen) permitted their use because he argued that it is also used for non-borer functions like making carrot strings and chocolate shavings. Peeling vegetables isn’t intrinsically forbidden due to borer since it is considered part of the act of eating.
Q: There is a rumor going around that any chewing gum is kosher. What are your thoughts?
A: It is customary to require certification for chewing gum even though it is technically permitted to chew it without certification. There are two main parts of gum, the chewy part and the flavor. The chewy part is not kosher but since it is inedible it is permitted to chew it. Regarding the flavorings, although it is customary to require certification for any flavorings used in a product that is produced under hashgacha, the halacha is that they are kosher (the vast majority of flavors are intrinsically kosher, and the minority that aren’t (or that are produced on non-kosher equipment) are always used together with other kosher flavors and therefore permitted – this is mentioned in part in the cRc Starbucks article in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, footnote 12 on page 9).