I recently noticed that the bottle of Kedem Kosher grape juice that I purchased has a notice on the label which reads 'FOR SACRAMENTAL PURPOSES ONLY'.

I assume this means that it's being sold to be used only for Kiddush, Havdalah or the Four Cups at the Seder.

Why is it in the company's interests to sell it in this way? Does it confer some legal, regulatory or tax advantage?

[Tangential bonus question: What happens if I want to drink it for other, non-sacramental purposes?]

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    I recommend you ask the manufacturer. – msh210 Aug 9 at 14:10
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    @JoelK As an aside, if you’re interested in privacy, you might want to post a different picture that doesn’t have that receipt in it, which kinda gives away your general location. – DonielF Aug 9 at 15:21
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    Seems to me that this question is not relevant to the site as it is more relevant to non-Jewish tax law than Judaism. There may be a Judaic interest in the "Tangential bonus question: What happens if I want to drink it for other, non-sacramental purposes?" – Avrohom Yitzchok Aug 9 at 16:56
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    @AvrohomYitzchok The question is about words about religion on a Jewish product's label, not about tax law, even if the answer is about tax law. – Isaac Moses Aug 9 at 17:57
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    I second @AvrohomYitzchok’s comment. The question is Jewish-motivated, but there’s no reason necessarily to assume that a Jew using this site would know the answer. If the question were the tangential one and asking if a product marketed for sacramental purposes was used for other purposes, then I would say this is fine, but at the moment, I’m voting to close. – DonielF Aug 9 at 22:50
up vote 31 down vote accepted

The reason is to exempt it from Value Added Tax.

See the regulation at this www.gov.uk site.

The important bit says:

4.7 Food and drink for religious and sacramental use

The existence of religious laws requiring certain foods to be prepared in particular ways (for example, kosher or halal) doesn’t affect the liability of the final product, which is judged according to the normal VAT rules. However, the following liabilities have been agreed in respect of some specialised food products, which have exclusively sacramental use:

communion wafers used in the celebration of the Christian Communion, Mass or Eucharist are zero rated

unfermented communion wine is also zero rated (but fermented communion wine is standard rated)

unfermented grape juice for use at the Jewish seder or kaddish (sic!)is zero rated provided it is marked prominently in English ‘for sacramental use only’

"Zero-rated" means that there is a zero rate of Value Added Tax.

  • pretty good sleuthing! the reciept near the bottle indicated that the bottle was purchased in the uk – heshy Aug 9 at 18:47
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    The normal style is [sic] (text reproduced exactly) not (sic!) (Oh my goodness, look how bad that is!). – CJ Dennis Aug 10 at 0:13
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    @AvrohomYitzchok would it be stealing (i.e. from the government, from taxpayers) to drink it for non-sacramental purposes? This is not a joke – SAH Aug 14 at 7:20
  • Perhaps this could be posted as a serious question of Halacha – Yerucham David ben Mordecai Aug 16 at 10:50
  • @YeruchamDavidbenMordecai Perhaps... – SAH Aug 17 at 21:39

I'm not good enough at reading legislative mumbo-jumbo to completely understand the particulars of the section in question, but New York state has a law (the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law) which specifies certain restrictions on alcoholic beverages. Section 6 in particular deals with wine.

I don't know for sure that this law is the reason Kedem puts this disclaimer on the bottles, but it seems plausible to me that they do it just to avoid the possibility of legal mix-ups even though it may not be strictly necessary for non-alcoholic beverages. There is a section in the law (76(10)) which makes an exception to some of the restrictions for sacramental purposes.

Someone who is better at reading these kinds of things may be able to clarify the law better than I can.

Sacrimental purposes exempts from tax in many places like New York see here: https://tax.ny.gov/pubs_and_bulls/tg_bulletins/abt/exempt_sales_and_uses.htm

  • I have to view that law. AFAIK, all wines are taxed, and I've never seen this wording placed on Kedem (or any other brand's) wines. – DanF Aug 9 at 21:25

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