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Are there any sources that discuss how to deal with buying kosher food served at an establishment that doesn't have a mashgiyach?

Many franchises, such as baskin robbins, 16 handles, carvel, etc. sell Kosher ice cream. They have many locations around the country, some of which don't have a mashgiyach.

Similarly, there are many ice cream stands that sell Hershey's ice cream. When asked to inspect the box the ice cream comes in, they often take out the tub where you get the ice cream from and show that it is labeled with a valid kashrus symbol. I assume that the ice cream come in a big box for each flavor and they throw away the box when they are done.

In either case, can I purchase ice cream by just looking at the box and checking that there's a valid kashrus symbol, and watching them rinse off their scooper before scooping?

Also, many ice cream stores have a basin of water where they leave their scoopers between uses, to keep it clean. The same scoopers for kosher and non-kosher ice cream are left in the same water. Does that create any issue?

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    welcome! I suggest editing your question as the manner in which it is currently phrased appears to be a solicitation for personalized advice (which goes against Mi Yodeya guidelines). Perhaps consider editing it to something along the lines of "what halakhic challenges are posed by the following types of circumstances?" or "have any rabbanim addressed how to handle such scenarios?" etc. May 9 at 22:15
  • FWIW - It might also be worth noting that these ice creams are not cholov yisroel so not everyone will eat them even if they are sold in kosher establishments.
    – Dov
    May 9 at 23:05
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    @Dov my question has nothing to do with cholov yisroel, it has to do with the rules of hashgacha in food establishments.
    – Moish
    May 10 at 1:48
  • There are many kosher restaurants without mashgichim but there are still multiple issues at play here: is the scooper clean? cold water doesn't transfer taste but is there a remainder of non-kosher ice cream on the scooper? Then the cones, sometimes the ice cream is kosher but the cones are not. Last, chinuch, see for instance here for a related answer where a Rav wanted to teach his kids to only eat from supervised stores
    – mbloch
    May 10 at 3:28
  • @Moish my point was more to just to notify ppl that it is not regarded as a blanket kosher, it was not to discredit your question.
    – Dov
    May 10 at 7:45

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Here's the Chicago Rabbinical Council's Policy, dated June 2021:

During the last several months there have been several new ice cream and frozen yogurt stores opening around Chicago and the country. Some are stand- alone stores while others are located in malls.

Many of these locations profess to sell kosher products under the certification of the cRc or other reliable agencies, and even have signs posted to indicate such. Unfortunately, while they may sell certain products that are kosher certified in their original factory sealed containers, most of the actual stores are not certified kosher. These letters only apply to the un-opened ice cream and yogurt that is listed on the letter of certification, and not necessarily to the store itself. Merely asking the store attendant if an item is kosher is not sufficient, as they may not be aware of specific requirements that may affect the kosher status of an item. One must see the actual product in its original sealed container and be able to ascertain that the product in the container or soft serve machine is the same that you saw in the original factory box and not a “token kosher box”. Regarding soft serve ice cream, one must verify that there is a kosher symbol on the label of the "bag-in-box" soft serve mix. If the mix is made in-house, the store must be certified kosher for the soft serve to be acceptable.

In some cases, the scoop must be first washed clean. Any other products purchased, such as cones, toppings, or any other additives must also be inspected to determine if they are kosher. Items such as cakes and novelty items may be coming in from another outside source, so special care must be taken when purchasing any of these items. Since one may not assume that there were no changes made since the last visit, this all must be done each time you go into the store to make a purchase! There are many kashrus issues that can pop-up at non-certified stores; these are just a few of the more common concerns.

As the average person may not be aware of all of the kosher regulations, it is always preferable and recommended to only frequent shops under a reliable kosher supervision. Check with the cRc in the Chicago area, or your local Orthodox Vaad in other areas for the stores under a reliable kosher certification.

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    Yasher koach for the cRc saying "preferable and recommended" and not claiming it's prohibited otherwise ... my impression is that a LOT of Orthodox Jews do this.
    – Shalom
    May 10 at 10:50

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