Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Why should I buy Tofutti products?
A) Let’s discuss why you need a soy-based, nondairy food product. Here are some of the more important reasons why.
Health food category is growing by double digit percentages each year. Dairy free and soy-based foods are part of that category, and therefore appeal to a large and growing consumer audience.
Tofutti soy-based, dairy free foods are unique, value added, upscale specialty foods.Tofutti is an excellent tasting, premium, one-of-a kind healthful alternative category product.
Dairy Free-Lactose Intolerance
Over 70 million Americans-one out of five are lactose intolerant, ranging from mild symptoms to life threatening allergy. Target ethnic groups-African and Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Jews.
Lactose intolerance tends to increase with age, affecting the fastest growing segment of our society. Certain medical conditions, such as asthma, kidney dysfunction, and autism require dairy free diets.
Cholesterol Free-Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. Over 50% of all adult Americans have cholesterol levels considered too high by the American Heart Association.
One in six adults in the U.S. already suffer from some form of cardiovascular disease.
Reducing cholesterol in one’s diet reduces the chance of cardiovascular disease.
Soy Based-Alleviates Other Medical Conditions
Tofutti products are rich in soy protein. Diets rich in soy have been shown by medical studies to lessen the occurrence or alleviate the symptoms of osteoporosis, menopause, and certain types of cancers. Recent FDA approval of health claims for soy-based products. Consumer concerns over certain diseases associated with dairy.
D) Life Style
Kosher Parve-Religious Dietary Laws
Certain ethnic and religious groups, such as Jews, Muslims, and Seventh Day Adventists observe the Kosher dietary laws. Parve is the highest form of Kosher. Kosher indicates to most consumers a healthier, better quality product.
No Animal Products-Vegetarians or Veganism
Those individuals who observe a vegetarian diet has been increasing dramatically every year. Vegetarians are a highly organized and vocal consumer group.
Because of concern over ethical or dietary issues, this consumer group stays away from dairy products.
E) In conclusion, why Tofutti?
- Product quality and taste
- Quality control
- Product durability
- Product innovation
- Company stability
- Brand name recognition
- Category leader
2. Recently, I have been hearing and reading about the benefits of soy. What are they?
Today there is an increasing amount of information being revealed about the health benefits of soy and soy foods. Soy protein is known to lower blood cholesterol and reduce the rates of coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer – breast, colon, and prostate – and fewer menopausal symptoms. Several components of soybeans, including protein, fiber, calcium, essential fatty acids, and isoflavones, offer the potential to promote health and prevent diseases. Genistein, an isoflavone found in high concentrations in soy foods, is thought to play a key role in many of the potential health benefits. The daily recommending dose of isoflavones (the active ingredient in soy) is 40 milligrams. This equals ¾ cup tofu or 1½ cups of soy milk.
A) What is “Kosher?”
Kosher is a Hebrew term that refers to food that has been prepared in accordance with Jewish Dietary Law. The term itself means “proper.” Kosher Law stems from the Biblical concept that food has both a spiritual as well as physical relevance. These laws are complex and kosher food requires the supervision of a competent Rabbi.
Contrary to common misconception, a “Rabbi’s Blessings” is not the Koshering Process. In order for any food to be certified Kosher, it must meet the requirements of Jewish Law, which can vary widely depending upon the nature of the product.
B) The five requirements of Kashruth (the noun of Kosher) are the following:
All pork products are inherently unable to be Kosher. The law also forbids consumption of birds of prey (e.g. owls, vultures, and eagles). Seafood that does not have fins and scales (e.g. shrimp, crabs, and oysters) are also not permitted. The use of various by-products of non-Kosher animals is also forbidden. Acceptable animals include the flesh of all quadrupeds with cloven (split) hooves (ie: cattle, sheep, and goats). Barnyard fowl and scaly fish with fins are permissible.
Fresh vegetables and fruits in the natural state are inherently Kosher, unless insect infested.
The acceptable animals must be slaughtered and prepared according to certain regulations. If this is not followed, the entire food is non-Kosher.
No dairy or meat products may be mixed or consumed at the same time. Separate cooking utensils and equipment must be used for these products.
*The above list is only a guide to the general requirements of the laws of Kashruth. Many other regulations exist.
C) Food Categories
Meat—Includes ruminants with split hooves and poultry that have been slaughtered in a prescribed manner. The meat must undergo a soaking and salting procedure to remove any remaining blood. The whole procedure must be done under the supervision of a Rabbi or “Mashgiach.”
Dairy—Milk and all its derivatives. Milk from a non-Kosher animal (e.g. pig, camel, etc.) is not Kosher. Even a very small amount of meat or dairy (or their derivatives) in a product renders that product “meat dairy.”
Parve (Neutral)—Everything kosher that does not fall under the above two categories. This includes eggs, plants, and kosher fish. Meat and dairy products and their derivatives may not be mixed or eaten together in any amount. Parve products can be mixed with either meat or dairy. Contrary to popular belief, Parve does not always mean vegan.
Non-Kosher—All ruminant animals and those that do not have split hooves, all animals that have not been slaughtered, soaked, salted, and inspected according to Jewish Law, all shell fish, all insects, all grape juice products that have not been supervised by a Rabbi, all hard cheese products that have not been supervised by a Rabbi, all mixtures of meat and dairy ingredients and their derivatives, and all mixtures of meat and fish.
Non-Kosher through processing—This may apply to food and ingredients whose manufacture or processing includes a heat step (above 115° F), e.g. spray-dried products, reacted flavors, production of fatty acids, canned foods, etc. If the equipment has been previously used for non-Kosher products, it renders any Kosher product non-Kosher. The product is viewed as absorbing the non-Kosher material from the walls of the equipment. However, if this equipment undergoes a special cleaning process called “Kosherization” under the supervision of a Rabbi, it can be used for Kosher products. Consequently, ingredients that by their nature do not require supervision, such as petroleum derived and inorganic chemicals, require investigation of their process history.
Equipment used to prepare non-Kosher products may be rendered non-Kosher. Kosher food prepared on this equipment may become non-Kosher. For example, vegetable oil is inherently kosher, but may be non-Kosher if it is run on equipment used for animal tallow as well.
E) Kosher Supervision
Kosher supervision is the observation of the entire production process by a qualified Rabbi to guarantee that the food is produced in accordance with Jewish Law. Thus, kosher supervision focuses on two areas: 1. The supervisory agency must approve as Kosher all ingredients used in the product. 2. The supervisory agency must approve the equipment used for the food production.
In order to ascertain that the guidelines set by the kosher agency are implemented, a rabbinical supervisor visits the plant regularly to inspect the ingredients and equipment for kosher production. The frequency with which the kosher supervision agency inspects the food production process is in part responsible for how much credibility the agency has with other kosher certifying agencies as well as to the consumer who purchases the products. Just because a food is certified Kosher is no guarantee the food will be accepted by all customers following the Jewish Dietary Laws. The same applies to ingredients. It is up to the certifying agency as to which kosher agencies they will accept ingredients from.
F) Kosher Bread
According to the Orthodox tradition, bread is considered to be the “staff of life” and therefore it must be able to be eaten at every meal. Bread, therefore, must be Parve. For this reason, breads containing dairy products may not be considered Kosher. Even though the bread is not kosher, the ingredients used to make it must be Kosher. If they are not Kosher, not only is the bread not Kosher, but also the equipment used to produce the food is now non-Kosher and all products produced on that equipment become non-Kosher. The equipment may be made Kosher again if it is kashered under the supervision of a rabbi.
Should you have any further questions about kosher, please contact our kosher supervisory service, the KOF-K at Kof-K Kosher Supervision, 201 The Plaza, Teaneck, NJ 07666. The telephone number is 201-837-0500 and you may look them up on their website at www.kof-k.org.
4. How come Tofutti products are not kosher for Passover?
Tofutti products are not kosher for Passover due to the fact that they all contain soy. For most observant Jews, soy is a grain that is not considered kosher for Passover. Most, if not all kosher supervision services in the United States will never certify a soy product kosher for Passover. Even for those Jews that do permit the use of soy during Passover, all the remaining ingredients will still have to be kosher for Passover, which ours are not.
5. What is Halal? If Tofutti products are Kosher Parve, does that mean they are automatically Halal and fit for Muslims to eat?
This is a common misunderstanding about Kosher and Halal. Although there are many similarities between the two, there are some significant differences. In order to better understand both, perhaps it is best to first describe what Halal (“lawful”) is, and that can be done by examining the other side of Halal, or Haram (“unlawful”). Items such as pork or pig products, Halal animals that are not slaughtered according to the Islamic Law and all intoxicants are considered Haram and must be avoided by all Muslims. There are also common ingredients in food and personal care products that also cannot be used or consumed by Muslims. For example: alcohol, ethanol, gin, lard, pepsin, rum, wine and vanilla extract/flavor should be avoided by Muslim consumers when listed on the ingredients list of a product. The next group of ingredients may only be used or consumed if derived from an animal that was Halal Zabihah, or slaughtered according to Islamic law: animal shortening, animal fat, broth (from animals), enzymes (microbial enzymes are okay), gelatin, lipase, rennet, stock, tallow, and whey.
Although many elements are similar, such as not being able to consume pig or pig products, there are two major differences. First, Kosher laws do not require Jews to pronounce the name of G-d at the time of the slaughter of an animal. On the other hand, Muslims are required to recite the name of Allah at the time of slaughter. For this reason, even though all the other elements of slaughtering the animal are basically the same, Muslims are not allowed to consume kosher meat, or any animal product that is from an animal not killed in a Halal manner. The second major difference is that while Jews are allowed to consume many (not all) types of alcohol, Muslims must abstain from all forms of intoxicants, including alcohol.
Although all Tofutti products are Kosher Parve, many of our products would not be considered Halal for two important reasons. First, many of our frozen dessert products use vanilla extract, which is forbidden to Muslims and second, certain of our other flavors are processed (distilled) using grain alcohol, another forbidden substance for Muslims. Even though some of our products would be considered Halal, we have elected not to have them certified as such due to the confusion such certification might cause. Since not all products in a particular facility could be certified Halal for the two reasons listed above, such a certification for individual products might be misinterpreted by some consumers that all our products were Halal. We would never want that to happen. If you are interested in a particular product and want to know if it would be considered Halal sans the actual certification, please contact us.
6. Do any Tofutti products contain dairy?
All of our products are certified Kosher Parve, which means that none of our products ever contain any dairy whatsoever. This means no milk byproducts either, such as casein, whey, or skim milk powder. In order to make certain that there is no dairy in a product, always look for a Kosher Parve symbol. That symbol certifies that the product is completely dairy/casein free.
7. I know all Tofutti products are Kosher Parve, which means that they contain no dairy. However, I was told that some of your products are run on equipment that also runs dairy products. If this is so, how are your products dairy free?
Although we would wish it otherwise, the overall demand for totally dairy free products is not large enough to justify setting up complete production lines for dairy free products only. Most plants we use for manufacturing our products mainly produce dairy items. This is true for all companies who sell dairy free products, no matter who they are. In addition to the normal plant sterilization, cleaning, and testing procedures, we employ a kosher supervisory service, the Kof-K, to supervise the manufacturing of our products to ensure that they are completely dairy-free every time. The methodology and techniques they use to clean the equipment and supervise the production is the process called kosherization. Kosher Parve means that there are no milk (or meat) derivatives in our products. It also means that the equipment used to produce Tofutti is either dedicated to non-dairy products or has gone through the rigorous sanitation and cleaning requirements of kosherizaton. In the typical plant, the equipment is washed and sanitized with a caustic rinse and an acid rinse. The caustic rinse is done with water at boiling temperature (212 degrees Fahrenheit). This is followed by a boil-out with pure water. There are several other components to the sanitation, but they are not listed as they do not affect the kosher status. A rabbinical supervisor is present to independently verify that these procedures are being adhered to and to review logbooks and digital records to verify that these procedures are followed. As a final safety procedure, our products are tested throughout the production process with a laboratory test that tests specifically for dairy.
If you feel that the preceding information raises your concerns about the safety of our products regarding dairy contamination, please do not use our products. Safety of our consumers is always our number one priority. For further information about kosher, please refer to our previous discussion on the subject.
8. I notice you use lactic acid in some of your products, like your Better Than Cream Cheese. I thought lactic acid is dairy. If it is, how can you say you are dairy free?
The lactic acid we use is of vegetable origin, not dairy. It is produced from microbial fermentation of certain vegetables and other ingredients. It simply simulates the functionality of regular lactic acid. We always use “veg” or “vegetable” before the words lactic acid to let consumers know that is where the ingredient comes from.
9. Are all Tofutti products vegan?
No, not all of our products are totally vegan. Although all of our frozen dessert and cheese products are completely vegan, our Blintzes and our cookies use egg whites. Of course, every product that uses egg whites will have it clearly listed in the ingredients. We never use whole eggs, as we are always cholesterol free.
10. What are the different types of vegetarians?
- Vegetarian: does not eat meat, fish, or fowl.
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: does not eat meat, fish, or fowl. Eats dairy and egg products.
- Ovo-Vegetarian: does not eat meat, fish, fowl, or dairy products. Eats egg products.
- Lacto-Vegetarian: does not eat meat, fish, fowl, or eggs. Eats dairy products.
- Vegan: does not eat any animal products including meat, fish, fowl, eggs, dairy, honey, etc. Most vegans do not use any animal products such as silk, leather, wool, etc. as well.
11. Does Tofutti ever use meat derivatives in its products?
No, never. Our products could not be kosher Parve if we did.
12. What is the source of your mono and diglycerides? Why do you use them?
The mono and diglycerides we use comes from vegetables, never from animals. Mono and diglycerides are used as a carrier in some of the ingredients that we use in our products. This is true of virtually all other similar products that use gums and stabilizers as we do. The amount in the finished product is miniscule and we never directly add any into our product.
13. Do Tofutti products contain eggs or egg whites?
None of our nondairy frozen desserts or cheese products contain eggs or egg whites. In some of our frozen food entree products, especially those with a pastry or pasta wrap, we do use egg whites. We never use whole eggs since all of our products are cholesterol free. Please see “Are all Tofutti products vegan?”
14. What type of lecithin does Tofutti use? It’s not from animals, is it?
All lecithin used in our products is derived from soy. We could not be kosher parve if it came from animals. If you see a kosher parve symbol, the lecithin used in the product will always be from a vegetable, typically soy. If you do not see that symbol, it is always wise to ask, just to be sure.
15. Are any Tofutti products gluten free?
Regarding gluten, some of our products are obviously not gluten free, such as our Cuties ice cream sandwiches, Chocolate Cookie Crunch pint, and Tofutti cookies, as well as a number of our frozen food products like Pizza Pizzaz and blintzes. Even though we do not add any gluten directly in our mixes, we usually do not certify any of our products as being gluten free because of the manner in which some of the flavors we use may be processed. Vanilla, in particular, is typically distilled with grain alcohol. Although it is cooked off during the distillation process, it could still leave some trace amounts of gluten. Since this information is proprietary to the flavor manufacturer, and ordinarily we only require the ingredient be totally dairy free (kosher parve), we have no way of knowing for sure. What reaction an individual might have depends on the severity of his/her condition.
Our Better Than Cream Cheese and Sour Supreme also have no gluten added, although, once again, alcohol could be used in the manufacture of the flavors. Our Veggie Soy-Cheese slices use distilled vinegar, which may contain traces of gluten. Although distilled vinegar is derived from grain, it is not certain if the vinegar contains gluten. This is a subject of great debate in the celiac and autistic communities, but even many conservative celiacs or parents of autistic children believe it is probably okay since most food chemists consulted by them believe that the distillation process should eliminate traces of gluten. We are just relating to you the opinion of outside consultants, not Tofutti Brands. Only one celiac association still believes there is gluten in grain alcohol or distilled vinegar. The other two major celiac organizations, as well as all the chemists and doctors who are known as celiac experts, now insist there is no gluten in distilled products of any kind, unless it is added later. According to these experts, the only vinegar to avoid is malt vinegar. Tofutti receives approximately ten inquiries a week about gluten. In most cases, those individuals are not concerned about the flavor distilled with grain alcohol issue since at worst it would be only trace amounts of gluten and their particular condition permits them to use the product, since they are more severely dairy intolerant. The majority of these inquiries involve children who are autistic. It has been recently discovered that in addition to not being able to have dairy products, autistic children cannot have gluten either. However, the ultimate decision to use our products rests with you, the consumer. If you are not comfortable with the preceding information, please do not use our products.
Given the enormous difficulty we have in ensuring that all of our products are completely dairy free 100% of the time, the logistics in also ensuring that they would be gluten free is probably overwhelming. An additional problem is that unlike dairy free, where you can rely on an independent, outside verification service (kosher supervision), there basically is no such service for gluten. To accommodate our lactose intolerant customers who also cannot have gluten, we have introduced two no gluten added stick novelties, a fudge bar called Totally Fudge and a chocolate coated vanilla bar called Marry Me. Additionally, these products are made with organic sugar as a sweetener. These products are already available in most health food stores and select supermarkets around the country.
19. I notice that on many of your frozen dessert products you use cocoa butter. If you are supposed to be dairy free, how come you use butter?
Unfortunately, when people create ingredients and food products the names they give them sometimes does not reflect what they really are. Cocoa butter refers to the fat from the cocoa bean. The word butter in this case has nothing to do with dairy.
20. Is there alcohol in the chocolate liquor used in some of your frozen deserts?
Once again as with cocoa butter, you have a similar situation with chocolate liquor, which is nothing more than the combination of cocoa butter and cocoa powder. There is no alcohol in chocolate liquor.
21. Is your caramel color and flavor dairy free?
Yes, neither has any dairy in them. Typically, caramel flavor and caramel color come from cooking sugar at high temperatures for a long period of time.
22. Does Tofutti use hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats in its frozen desserts?
None of our mixes contain hydrogenated fat. Even the Cutie wafer is made without partially hydrogenated fat.
23. What is the difference between sugar free products and no sugar added (NSA) products?
No sugar added products are actually what you used to called sugar free products. A number of years ago the FDA came out with a rule that said even if you use an artificial sweetener, it was still technically “sugar” because of the sugar alcohols and therefore you could not say sugar free; rather, you did not directly add sugar, hence no sugar added (NSA). Originally, all of these products were specifically designed for diabetics and others who could not have sugar. More recently, their popularity has risen because of low carb dieting. If you see similar products out there that say sugar free, technically they are in error. This is especially true if they have dairy, since dairy has lactose which is milk sugar. That is another reason why the government came out with the new rules.
24. How come some Tofutti products use NutraSweet?
While Tofutti products are always dairy free, we always try to take into account other health concerns that consumers might have. One such concern is the consumption of sugar, or any sugar type product. By some estimates, there are perhaps 10-20 million people in this country with a sugar problem, such as diabetes or hyperglycemia, for whom the consumption of sugar in any form, even natural, could be harmful if not fatal. While for some people in the health food community the use of artificial sweeteners is not politically correct, for those with a sugar problem it is an absolute necessity. The reason we came out with no sugar added products that use NutraSweet is to accommodate their needs. More recently, the popularity of the Atkins, or low carb diet, has pushed the usage of NutraSweet even higher. Currently, our no sugar added products consist of: fat free Chocolate Fudge and Coffee Break Treat stick novelties and Mint By Mintz bars.
25. Does Tofutti use non-GMO soy protein?
All of our products use non-GMO soy protein. In addition, if available, we use other non-GMO ingredients, such as our tofu powder and maltodextrin.
26. Does Tofutti use peanuts in any of their products? If so, how do you make sure that there is no cross contamination?
Regarding peanuts, we do have a peanut flavored Cutie. Our Cuties are run on a completely separate line in the ice cream plant where our frozen dessert products are manufactured. Prior to running our Cuties each day, the equipment is specially cleaned under the supervision of a Rabbi to ensure that there is no possibility of dairy contamination. This special cleaning will also take care of any other type of contamination. We only run one particular flavor of Cuties each day, never splitting the day between two flavors. Peanut butter Cuties are always run at the end of the week, so there is nothing being run after them until the following week. Further, when we run the peanut butter Cuties we run up a large quantity so that it is only run infrequently. All ingredients and packaging is kept separate from the rest of our other products. Our products are made in an ice cream plant where other peanut products are present. We therefore cannot guarantee that there will not be any peanut contamination, no matter how unlikely the possibility. We also have a peanut butter cookie that does contain whole peanuts. If you feel that the preceding information raises your concerns about the safety of our products regarding peanut contamination, please do not use our products. Safety of our consumers is always our number one priority. If you require further clarification, please do not hesitate to contact us.
27. Does the cocoa you use in your products contain caffeine? If so, how much?
Yes, the cocoa we use does contain caffeine. However, we do not know how much, since we never sell our chocolate products as being decaffeinated products. Therefore, there is no need for us to establish what the levels are through outside testing. Suffice it to say, if you have to remove caffeine from your diet, you should not use our chocolate products.
28. Does Tofutti use unbleached flour in its Cutie wafers? How about the cookies?
The answer to both questions is yes.
29. What are the potassium and phosphorus levels of Tofutti products?
This is a common question for people with kidney dysfunction, since both potassium and phosphorus are known to aggravate kidney disorders. Due to the fact our products are totally dairy free, most are usually not a significant source of potassium and phosphorus. On some of our newer products we do declare potassium and phosphorus values, although we are not required to do so. Typically, our packaging will state, “Not a significant source of Vitamins A, C, iron, calcium, potassium, or phosphorus.” “Not significant” is typically defined as less than 2% of the daily requirements. In most of our products, potassium and phosphorus are usually just several milligrams per serving, with the potassium level slightly higher than the phosphorus level. Although most medical professionals recommend our products for their dialysis patients, we advise them that the salt content can vary from product to product, and in some cases can be fairly substantial. Of course, the actual sodium value for each product is always listed on the package. As with any medical condition, please check with a medical professional before using our products.
30. How come Tofutti products contain very little calcium? Does the company have any plans to introduce calcium enriched products?
Because they never contain dairy ingredients, Tofutti products are never a significant source of calcium. We currently have no plans to introduce any products with enriched calcium at this time. We are currently concentrating on addressing more frequently requested health related issues that consumers contact us with. Additionally, many people use our products because they cannot have calcium in their diets, specifically individuals with kidney or urinary tract conditions. A final factor is that adding a mineral to a product that is not naturally in the product typically creates flavor and taste issues. Such is the case with calcium. If it is necessary for you to have calcium in your diet, please consider using calcium supplements.
31. I see that some of your products use adipic acid. What is it?
Adipic acid is a crystalline, white powder that exhibits typical carboxylic acid chemistry suitable for a wide variety of applications. It is used primarily in food to enhance taste and flavor.
32. What is the most widely used oil in the United States?
According to industry figures, soy oil, in its many forms, is the most widely used oil in the United States. It is estimated that 75% of all oil used in the United States is some form of soy oil.
33. What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is made of fatty substances know as lipids and includes both high and low density lipoproteins (HDL and LDL). The body’s cholesterol comes from dietary sources and production by the liver. Elevated cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of coronary artery and blood vessel disease. HDL is a combination of a lipid (fat) and protein and is considered to be the “good cholesterol”. It helps to clear excess cholesterol from the body. High HDL levels are associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease. Exercise is thought to help raise the HDL level, while lowering the LDL, or “bad cholesterol”. The CHOL/HDL Cholesterol Ratio is a simple calculation of the total cholesterol divided by the HDL. It is used to assess the risk of coronary artery disease. Lower ratio values are associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease.