Question: My children like chewing gum. Can I buy them gum without a hechsher considering that they don’t swallow it? Do they recite a beracha?
Answer: There are a few potentially problematic ingredients in gum. Both the emulsifier in the gum base and the glycerine used to soften the gum can originate from animal fat. Additionally, the flavourings are often non-kosher. While gum is not supposed to be swallowed, most of the ingredients are its flavourings which certainly are ingested.
As gum manufacturers do not legally need to list all of the ingredients, and other non-kosher products may be produced on the same machinery, it doesn’t help to just rely on the listed ingredients.
The Rema (YD 108:5) writes that one mustn’t even taste non-kosher food that one intends to spit out. Certainly then, one must only chew gum that one knows to be kosher.While there are poskim (Birkas Hashem, maamarim 1) that hold that one does not recite a beracha before chewing gum, most follow R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 7 OC:33) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 6:80:2; 7:219) and recite shehakol.