Dear Kosher Spirit,
Does Grade AA butter in America need Cholov Yisroel certification since it can only be made from kosher (cow’s) sweet cream?
Rabbi Krinsky responds:
Years ago, those who kept Cholov Yisroel could eat Grade AA butter even without special Cholov Yisroel certification based on the fact that butter can only be made from (cow’s) sweet cream as brought down in Shulchan Oruch. Therefore, Grade AA butter could be eaten even if a Jew did not watch the milking from which the sweet cream was taken.
Today, the USDA allows companies to use up to 5% whey cream in AA butter. As long as the butter passes testing by a USDA grader (a taste test), it may be labeled USDA AA Butter. This causes a kosher concern because sweet cream (taken off fresh cow’s milk) is considered kosher, but whey cream (a by-product of cheese productions that could be non-kosher due to the addition of some non-kosher ingredients in the cheese making process) is not always kosher. Those that only eat Cholov Yisroel dairy products may only eat whey cream from a Cholov Yisroel cheese production. Butter with a kosher certification is guaranteed to contain only kosher whey cream, but that whey cream may not be Cholov Yisroel. Therefore, if one keeps Cholov Yisroel the butter requires Cholov Yisroel certification to make sure that all ingredients are only from Cholov Yisroel sources.