Bread, cake, cookies, crackers, and the like, all fall into the category of “Pat Akum,” bread of a Non-Jew, which is more lenient than the cooked food of a Non-Jew, “Bishul Akum.”
Bread of a Non-Jew, even though it is from only Kosher ingredients, is not permitted when baked by a private person, but is permitted from a restaurant, bakery, and of course packaged in a supermarket. These are termed “Pat Palter.”
If a Jew lights the oven, it would be permitted, even for Sephardim.
Cooked, stewed, fried, microwaved, and the like, are all included under “Bishul Akum,” the food cooked by a Non-Jew.
This prohibition only pertains to foods that are not eaten raw. Example: Hot water, cooked carrots, and apples would be fine.
If there are combinations of ingredients and some would be OK, while some would be a problem, we would go after the main item(s) if cooked together by a Non-Jew.
However, if after an item was cooked by a Non-Jew it was mixed with other Kosher food, it would not be “Batel” (considered irrelevant), unless it was not identifiable by itself. Example: Beans in a soup are not Batel.
Hot coffee would be OK, because the main ingredient is the hot water, which is eaten raw.
If a Jew lights the oven, it would be permitted for Ashkenazim; but Sephardim cannot eat that food except when the Non-Jew is an employee at the house or restaurant of a Jew.
Utensils, pots, and anything used in the cooking or baking of Bishul Akum or Pat Akum, do not become impure or Non-Kosher.
Wine or grape juice poured by or the wine itself touched by a Non-Jew is not permitted. Touching the bottle alone does not make it a problem.
If the wine was cooked, “Mevushal,” prior to the touching or pouring, it is permitted.
Milk from a Non-Jew is prohibited, because we suspect it may contain a small percentage of milk from non-kosher animals, and it therefore must be supervised by a religious Jew, “Chalav Yisrael.”
In civilized countries, where there are other guarantees that the milk is from cows only, it is permitted to drink regular milk from the store without Jewish supervision, and it is considered “Chalav Yisrael.” Other guarantees include any of the following:
An FDA-type government organization policing the milk industry.
A society where if people found out that other milk was included, they would stop buying the milk from that company.
If milk from other animals where more expensive or harder to obtain than cow’s milk.
All 100% butter is permitted, since non-kosher milk was not commonly made into butter, the Rabbis did not feel it necessary to create a prohibition (Gezera).
In countries where milk is a problem, butter can be a problem if purchased from a small farm or private establishment. It is very uncommon, but it is possible to make butter from non-kosher animals’ milk.
Cheese of a Non-Jew is prohibited.
Cheeses have their own prohibition; not like milk where we suspect there may be a non-kosher ingredient, but rather a “Gezera,” a Rabbinical Decree, that cheese must have supervision during the cheesing process by a religious Jew, even if we are 100% certain that there are no non-kosher ingredients used.
There are some Rabbinical supervision agencies that certify cheeses without direct supervision, possibly due to misunderstanding these laws. It is imperative that we ask the supervising agency if the cheesing process was directly supervised, before eating their cheese.