1

Margarine made from vegetable oils (non-dairy) looks just like butter, but is normally labeled as parve.

Shouldn't it be considered chalavi according to the principle of mar'it ayin?

3

If it was an issue of Mar'it Ayin, it would only require clearly indicating that this was margarine and not butter. However Mar'it Ayin only applies in this type of case to a situation when the application is unusual. When everyone will think of margarine when they see it, it isn't a problem. Rabbi Chanoch Dov Padwa makes that point explicitly about margarine in חשב האפוד 1:20.

When Kosher margarine first came out, people who remember told me that Rabbis required leaving the packaging on the table while eating it for Mar'it Ayin reasons. But after margarine become commonplace that practice was discontinued.

  • Plus margarine is usually not quite the same color as butter. – Daniel Jun 26 '15 at 17:36
  • FYI - My Rav reminded us of the same problem when "Coffee Rich" was introduced. First mashgichim forbade caterers to serve it at simchot. Then, they said OK only if you put the whole container on the table. (Some even said you had to put a note on the container and / or tell the guests that it was parve), but you couldn't pout it into a tin pitcher. Eventually, as people became familiar, they were able to put it in pitchers. – DanF Jun 26 '15 at 20:24

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