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Home > By DEPARTMENTS > Green Business and Human Resources > Certification Programs

Kosher Certification -- Global Food Credentialing Program

Kosher is the Jewish certification program for food quality and preparation monitoring

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Kosher certification of food products I heard a story recently that China has a shortage of Rabbis! What? Rabbis in China?

Ah, yes, certification of Kosher foods!

So I looked into the history of this ancient credibility builder for food producers. According to KosherQuest.org, "In the U.S.A., the kosher certifying agencies with which we are familiar did not start until the 1920’s and 1930’s, but their development can be traced back over 200 years. The need for kosher supervision in the United States dates back to Colonial times. As early as 1660, a Jew from Portugal applied for a license to sell kosher meat in New Amsterdam. The first recorded complaint was in 1771 against the Shochet Moshe. In 1774, the widow, Hetty Hays, complained that her shochet (ritual slaughterer) was selling non-kosher meat. This led to the first court license revocation against a kosher butcher in 1796."

Marketability of Kosher Certification

It has been estimated that approximately one third of all shelf products in our supermarkets are certified kosher. This makes the kosher industry in the U.S. a 30 billion dollars a year business.

About $2 billion of this market niche is dedicated strictly toward the kosher consumer. In the U.S., there appear to be 5 million people who buy products based on their being kosher.

Interest in kosher food is growing for several marketplace reasons: some consumers adhere to kosher laws from conviction, such as Seventh Day Adventists, Muslims, and vegetarians. Most of the interest comes from people who feel that the kosher certification is their best guarantee that products and their ingredients are being watched carefully.

The Kosher Certification Process

The manufacturer must supply a complete, detailed list of every ingredient in the product, including preservatives, release agents, stabilizers or other inert ingredients. In addition, every step in the manufacturing process, every cleansing agent used on the equipment and all other products produced on the same premises require close investigation and supervision.

The results of all these investigations are forwarded to the rabbinic authority (or board) of the supervising agency. If changes in ingredients or processes are required, the manufacturer must make the changes before the agency will do further work. Once all is acceptable, the rabbinic authority will determine the amount of on-plant supervision necessary. This information is written into a contract and then sent to the manufacturer. The contract also specifies that the manufacturer agrees to make no changes of ingredients or suppliers without prior written consent of the agency. The actual on-site inspector (mashgiach) will verify that the company is complying with the contract.

Because organizations like the O/U or Chaf-K have registered servicemarks, unauthorized printing of these symbols on labels is a violation of Federal law. These certifying agencies have legal redress against possible abuse by manufacturers of their symbols. Some states have laws against falsely advertising that a product is kosher. Also, when reliable certifying agencies know that a particular product will no longer be under their supervision, they will publicize that fact widely. However, these safeguards are not enforceable when only the letter K is used for kosher certification.

The cost of certification to the manufacturer is minimal. For non-profit agencies, cost depends on the amount of on-site work. Agencies making a profit might have a minimum annual charge and fees depending on the gross annual sales of the product. The individual supervisor (mashgiach) is typically paid for each visit he makes to the plant (He usually receives less per visit than an auto mechanic makes per hour). The mashgiach is paid by the certifying agency and not by the manufacturer.

The KosherQuest website states that "There is usually no increase in the price of the product due to its kosher certification, because the cost of certification is generally met by increased sales. The O/U reports that in over 45 years, fewer than 12 companies discontinued their certification programs because sales did not increase. "

Visit the KosherQuest.org website for a list of Kosher symbols and contacts of organizations issuing kosher certificates.

KosherQuest is the Web site of the Kosher Information Bureau. It is the most comprehensive Web site regarding Kashrus in the world. SOURCE:
Kosher Information Bureau
Phone. 818-762-3197
Fax. 818-766-8537
12753 Chandler Boulevard
North Hollywood, California 91607
KosherQuest.org

green business sustainability
PROBLEM: Food production standards vary by region, industry and company. Packaging separates the consumer from checking food quality.

SOLUTION: Respected certification programs monitor and measure safety and quality of products.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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