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Several "health food" stores near me have a machine that grinds fresh nut and butter. Two such stores are Fairway and Whole Foods. The nuts are grown in California and Georgia (the U.S. state, not the country.)

I asked the manager in both places about the nuts and the machine. The nuts are raw, except where noted otherwise (i.e., some machines have roasted nuts.) The machines are used only for the nuts. From what I can tell, it is a closed system, i.e., nothing else goes into the bin or the grinding mechanism except these nuts. If it makes any difference in the answer, the ground nuts come out a bit warm, probably due to the friction caused by grinding.

Can one buy this product without needing kosher supervision? If not, what concerns might there be?

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There are typically three halachic issues with this sort of question

  1. The ingredients: nuts are kosher. Star-K says here American nuts don't need to be checked for bugs and here they only need to be checked if stored for a long period of time
  2. The machine: if there is no cooking and has only ever been used for nuts there is no issue
  3. Bishul akum: can be an issue in case of products being cooked by non-Jews and served on the "table of kings" but this doesn't apply here

There is also a non-halachic but important issue of education. I saw one responsa where the rav wouldn't buy popcorn for his children without supervision despite being kosher according to the 3 questions above - because he wanted to train them to only eat products with a reliable supervision.

All this being said, as always, you should check with a reputable rav before acting on anything you read here.

  • The education area is arguable. I'm not stating that it's wrong. However, in terms of teaching kashrut to children, I think it can be useful to teach them that "natural" products don't need supervision and why. – DanF Jun 5 '18 at 13:04
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    The issue is that it is hard to extrapolate from one case to another, e.g., I heard on a podcast from OU Kosher COO that there are plants that use the same steam to heat pots of beans and pots of pork. The so called "natural" product (beans) thus becomes forbidden. So there is a risk when using uncertified products and it needs to be checked really well. In that sense I understand that rav's concern – mbloch Jun 5 '18 at 13:06

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