What is the processed used by cereal makers to make cereal (most cereal makers)? I've heard it is toasting, and in that case the rabbi i spoke to said it would not be a problem of bishul goyim or pat goyim. I personally do not see the difference between baking and toasting. Can anyone point out the difference for me?
In commercial cereal production today, the actual cooking process is usually done through rotary steaming, not baking. After the fully cooked grain or corn is crimped, shredded and cut, it is then passed through a toasting machine, which uses lower heat than in baking to remove moisture after the cooking has already been completed. It is a finishing process, not to cook. Depending upon how low the temperature is in the toasting process, it may actually fall into the definition of cold smoking. This low temperature toasting preserves the nutritional value of the food. Even in the cases where a commercial convection oven is used (actual baking), it is a finishing process to remove moisture, not to cook.
For a detailed discussion of the different types of processes used for the different cereal types, see this link to Baker Perkins who manufactures commercial cereal machines.
According to the explanation from the OU, there are several different considerations in regard to commercial cereal production that are relevant to the question of Bishul Akum and Pat Akum.
The first is that according to many today, cereal is excluded from the restrictions of Bishul Akum because it is not a food which would be found on a royal table. The OU emphasizes that which foods fall into this status varies from one generation to the next. And so that detail needs reconsideration from time to time.
The second consideration is that the process of steam cooking does not, according to many, fall under the domain of Bishul Akum at all.
The issue of bishul akum for a steam process is disputed by the Zer Zahav and Shem Aryeh, quoted in Darkei Teshuva 113:16. Some rabbinic authorities rule leniently in this matter even without other mitigating factors. See, for example, responsa of Yabia Orner, Vol. 5, 9, and responsa of Seridai Aish, Vol. 2, 138. Rabbi Weiss, however, relies on the lenient position only in a factory situation, where there is an issue of anonymity as well.
The third consideration that is relevant pertains to the position of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein that in the case of specialized commercial cooking equipment, Bishul Akum does not apply. This is because such specialized, large scale equipment, removes the reason behind the prohibition of Bishul Akum/Pat Akum in the first place. The social mixing of Jews and non-Jews. The commercial factory makes the actual baker anonymous.
Rav Moshe, zt”l emphasized that if the cooking equipment in the factory is simply larger than the standard kitchen pots and pans, this does not constitute a unique situation. Rather, they must be totally different in structure and design, which is often the case in a factory.
This is the basis for what is called Pat Palter, commercially produced bread.
Pas palter is defined as any product baked by a gentile on which one recites hamotzi, either normally, or when there is kvias seudah (a full meal is eaten). See Taz, Yoreh Daya, 112:6, and Pri Chodosh, Yoreh Daya 112. One recites hamotzi on pas haba bikisnin whenever there is kvias seudah.
The fourth consideration relates to the comment made above pertaining to the low temperature used in the toasting process. As mentioned above, if low enough, it may cause the toasting/finishing process to fall under the definition of cold smoking which is also excluded from the definition of Bishul Akum as discussed in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 113:13.
והמעושן אינו כמבושל