Video Cameras and Cholov Yisroel


By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times

Many have posed the question: Why can’t we have video cameras at the supplier dairies to make more food Cholov Yisroel? The feed could go straight to some office where Jews are standing and watching. It could be done throughout Israel and in a good many places in the United States Imagine the possibilities: Coffee anywhere, Hershey’s, Haagen Daas, Entemanns.

Not many people are aware of this, but New York City is filled with video cameras that have license plate readers. These readers are hooked up to a central computer system. Indeed, almost every police car in New York City is equipped with such a camera. It is only a matter of time when teh Kashrus agencies will go to the dairy suppliers of the companies under them and install cameras to make it Cholov Yisroel.

This author predicts that there will be an American kashrus agency that will start offering this service to the dairy suppliers of companies within the next two or three years. The issue, however, is a machlokes among recent Gedolei haPoskim. Dayan Yechezkel Roth Shlita (Emek HaTeshuvah IX #85) forbids it as does Rav Moshe Shternbuch (Teshuvos v’Hanhagos V #255). Rav Elyashiv zt”l (Nesiv HaChalav 3 p.29) and Rav Vosner zt”l (Journal Ohr Yisroel Tishrei 5772 Gilyon I p.29), however, both permit it.

There is a caveat that the monitor must always be watched. This is even according to the lenient view.

Those that are stringent and forbid it, do so for a number of reasons – among which is the fact that the tape can easily be forged. Another reason is that people do tend to slack off when no one is accountable. The main reason is that they understand that Chazal forbade the milk when the Jew was not physically present.

The author can be reached at


  1. If you’re makpid on CY, I’d suggest you DON’T hold your breath waiting for this.

    As one who has been in many large facilities, this won’t happen. It’s a logistical nightmare. If anyone thinks Hershey’s or any of the companies mentioned will change all their milk to far more expensive CY, you must seriously be on something.

    The next thing is that companies will NEVER go for video cameras in their plants because of proprietary reasons.

    Simply said, IT’S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
    MODERATOR: As per Rabbi Hoffman, if Hershey’s suppliers install video cameras – it can easily happen.

  2. Mod:

    IF nothing. As colleagues have noted many times, it would be nice if people writing articles would know the mitziyus first.

    Can you imagine how many dairy farms we’re talking about? Can you imagine the amount of dairy processing facilities we’re talking about? It makes no sense whatsoever is that a company would consider this. The CY market is not that big for them to invest such a large amount of money and put their trade secrets at risk with video. And who is watching on Shabbos?

    People who keep Cholov Yisroel think they have such a large market share when in reality they’re a drop in the bucket. Besides the cholov stamm companies don’t want the sour Cholov Yisroel milk (feh!!).

    This makes NO sense whatsoever on the business side, which is how companies think.

    Sorry but you’ll have to stick to inferior brands.

  3. For a full discussion of this see Contemporary Halakhic Problems VII, Chapter 4, as reviewed by Rabbi Hoffman several months ago…

  4. I spoke to a dairy company near me. They get milk from hundreds of farms and the process: pasteurize, homogenize, make powder, make cheese, etc. This is common today throughout the industry.

    The only way that we have C”Y is because of independent farms that do all the processing themselves, from the milking to the bottling or whatever final stage is.

  5. “Besides the cholov stamm companies don’t want the sour Cholov Yisroel milk….”

    The reason why C”Y milk spoils faster than C”A milk is because of the way it’s handled. When I lived in town, I saw how the milk came to the local frum grocery and sat on the floor (in milk crates) for like an hour until the worker put it in the fridge section. In large supermarkets, the milk goes from a refrigerated truck to a huge walk-in fridge. When they stock the shelves, the milk quickly goes from the walk-in fridge to the refrigerated display, not sitting out for a while.

    Living way OOT, I get my C”Y from a general supermarket, where they have good handling practices. The milk usually lasts well past the due date.

  6. Most spoilage of CY has been shown to be the result of poor handling practices during the “last mile” of the supply chain i.e. the local market. The problem is especially challenging for small heimish groceries in crowded urban neighborhoods where refrigerated trucks are caught in traffic; may have to idle for a while (hopefully with refrigeration going) to unload at markets (most of which have no loading dock; waiting for the manager to provide access to the store; crates of milk sitting around until the manager or delivery guy place the milk into refrigerated cases in the store.