web analytics
July 1, 2015 / 14 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Who’s Watching The Store? Self-Regulation In Kashrut

Front-Page-052413

By and large these consumers are right to place their faith in the kosher certification system. Regular, unannounced inspections of kosher food production facilities serve many purposes, not the least of which is a general increase in vigilance. Such vigilance not only prevents contamination that would render a product “non-kosher” but also serves to prevent the kinds of pest infestations that occur all too often when such vigilance is lax.

A famous advertising campaign proclaimed, “We answer to a higher authority.” Whereas federal regulations allow for a certain threshold of contamination in food – for example, fewer than two maggots per 500 grams of canned tomatoes – kosher certification allows for zero tolerance when it comes to any such contaminants.

When our authority is God, there is not the same “wiggle room” that exists in governmental regulation.

While Dr. Lytton praises the kosher certification process as a model for government inspectors, he also notes that kosher certification is not a substitute for federal regulation. He acknowledges that kosher requirements often overlap with food safety standards – kosher inspectors are trained in Jewish dietary law, food chemistry, and food technology – but they do not have the training or expertise to address bacterial contamination or safe food handling practices.

From Dr. Lytton’s perspective, the most valuable contribution kosher certification offers to food safety might be a model of reliable private certification. The key to this, he suggests, is to yoke market demand for certification with the kind of competitive pressures that minimize corner cutting – that is, utilize the kosher certification model.

In an opinion piece he wrote for Food Safety News titled “Kosher Certification: A Model for Improving Private Food Safety Audits,” Dr. Lytton listed a number of features of the kosher certification system that make it so successful:

1. Sufficient consumer demand. As we have noted, the kosher food market is significant. In order to succeed in this market, companies are willing to allow kosher inspectors into their facilities.

2. A core of vigilant and active consumers. Ultimately, it is the consumers who hold producers’ “feet to the fire.”

3. Brand competition based on reliability among kosher certifiers vying for food company clients counteracts incentives to cut corners.

4. Interdependence among certifiers creates incentives for interagency oversight.

5. Concentration of market power in the hands of a few large certifiers. This simplifies the development and enforcement of industry-wide standards.

6. Certification agency personnel are motivated by a shared sense of mission that counteracts conflicts of interest and promotes cooperation even between competing certifiers. No one should ever doubt that the kosher certification is a business, a highly competitive business. But it is not just a business. For the rabbis who staff certification agencies, it is a sacred trust.

I can speak directly to that final point.

Geared with a divine mission, those of us who work in the kosher certification world dare not fail or err. We approach our task with yiras shomayim. Our awe of Heaven touches every attitude, decision, response and approach relating to the certification process.

At OU, the world’s largest and most renowned kosher certification agency, kashrut personnel agonize over each and every detail, nuance, and implication of kosher law as it pertains to each specific food product and producer. Only then, with knowledge, humility, and faith, is a decision made and a p’sak issued about how exactly to evaluate a specific ingredient, or kasher a particular piece of equipment.

Or perhaps a plant has erred and so a new evaluation and rekashering is required. Such issues are part of the daily kashrut agenda at every certification agency. Each issue, each product, each decision is confronted with a genuine sense of fear and trembling. Not only do we answer to a Higher Authority but countless consumers rely on our correct decisions in their own pious observance.

So weighty is our responsibility that it is extremely rare for any of the OU kashrut personnel to render a decision without consulting colleagues who match them in years of learning, training, expertise and erudition.

In many cases, they will seek out the invaluable scholarship and world-renowned expertise of OU’s senior halachic consultants Rabbi Yisroel Belsky and Rabbi Hershel Schachter. In these situations they will render the final p’sak, particularly when the question is new or novel. In all instances, the decisions are posted on OU Kosher’s halachic database for future reference and study.

About the Author: Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran is an educator, author and lecturer. He can be reached at e1948s@aol.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Who’s Watching The Store? Self-Regulation In Kashrut”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Future guard? Arab child with Hamas headband aims toy rifle on the Temple Mount after prayers in the Al Aqsa mosque.
Shin Bet Foils Nascent Hamas Coup in Palestinian Authority Territories
Latest Indepth Stories
Bibi Scores points on Soccer Field NOT Temple Mount

Rather than asserting Jewish rights on Temple Mount or protecting Jewish lives Israel chooses soccer

Mahmoud Abbas trying to see if he has supporters on the UN Security Council.

Nothing in the NEW Paris Proposal differs much from what was offered by Olmert and rejected by Abbas

Matan Katzman. regional executive at the StandWithUs

No longer will delegitimization efforts go unchallenged. That’s a silence we will continue to break.

Flag of Sweden

Increasingly, Sweden is becoming a country where anti-Semitism & supporting terrorism is acceptable.

Rabbi Pfeffer points out that at his site, there are no one-line answers. “We want to show the people we’re interested in their questions,” he says.

The problem with US treatment of Israel did not start with Obama but with birth of Jewish State

The pathetic failure of the Marianne to reach Gaza is the best thing that has happened to Israel since Hamas mis-fired a rocket on its own civilians.

Wonder why Israel has the world’s most insane rules of engagement imposed on its military? Read on..

Think political Islam’s a problem now just wait until an Islamist nuclear umbrella covers the region

Fiorina’s wrong about Islam which embraces our death&destruction confusing pc theories for hard fact

Bangladesh PM Hasina is fighting terror not only for her nation but for the entire civilized world.

No necessity to redefine marriage, just address equal rights for couples in non-nuclear families

PM Netanyahu has pledged the nation won’t rest until the hero Eli Cohen is returned home to Israel

“Palestinian armed groups” & “local authorities” are named in the report; Hamas’ absence stands out

Dating apps have really changed the way many young Jews approach dating.

The families of those slain even publicly forgave the murderer. Charleston was serene and at peace.

More Articles from Rabbi Eliyahu Safran
Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

What makes a man dedicated to what is best, stray? What makes a leader, a rabbi, lose his way?

Rabbi Eliyahu Safran

Peace/Shalom/Wholeness: A gift conferred; earned and received by God’s grace; His blessing.

Lag B’Omer became the “Scholar’s Festival” reminding all that derech eretz kadmah l’Torah-

The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Jews cover the head not as ID but because wearing it makes concrete to ourselves our devotion to God

It’s easier to take Jews out of galus than to take galus out of Jews – Chassidic master

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/whos-watching-the-store-self-regulation-in-kashrut/2013/05/22/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: