The Schmooze

The Kosher Toothpaste Debate

The Orthodox Union, which certifies as Kosher more than 400,000 products, includes a long discourse on toothpaste on its web site. Though most dentifrices contain glycerin, an animal product that is “unquestionably” non-kosher, it’s not completely clear whether they’re treyf; the OU quotes some complicated rabbinical rulings involving flavor and usage of the product. “If glycerin is present in tasty toothpaste, it would certainly seem to be problematic. The issues…are very serious, and consumers should not hesitate to consult their rabbonim for direction,” its Web site says.

But Jews suffering dental-hygiene anxiety can relax and brush; there’s actually a whole range of kosher toothpastes. And the latest, Supersmile, is the brainchild of Dr. Irwin Smigel, the founder of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics.

As the press release tells it, the Halachic dental debate was irrelevant to Smigel, who characterizes himself as a kind of Hebraic oral-health crusader. “While we realize there are extensive rabbinic debates regarding the kashrut of toothpaste, for us there was no debate, and we make only kosher products,” he declared in the release. “Those who are forbidden to eat pork or certain kinds of meats should beware of any toothpaste which isn’t kosher yet contains glycerin.”

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The Kosher Toothpaste Debate

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