248.535.7090

Kosher Michigan Logo
 

Archive for the ‘Blog Posts’ Category

 

Association of Kashrus Organizations Conference 2022

Posted on: May 28th, 2022 by Kosher Michigan

Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 914

Last month’s AKO conference brought together some 150 kashrus experts. Their primary motivation: making sure Klal Yisrael has kosher food to eat

The Jewish world today has hundreds of agencies making sure that all kinds of food is kosher, from the salmon off the Norwegian coast and Peruvian beef to French wines and Stella D’oro Swiss fudge cookies.

Once a year, the organizations get together for three days of camaraderie and enlightenment. From a business perspective, many of them are direct competitors, but at this conference, the focus is on what really motivates them: making sure people have kosher food to eat.

Under the umbrella of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO), this year’s conference, held last month at the Delta by Marriott Hotel in Iselin, New Jersey, was certainly an eye-opener for me. I met people in kashrus organizations I’ve never heard of — Oregon Kosher, Top-K, Rhode Island Kosher — and from parts of the world, like South Bend, Amsterdam, and Panama, that I never even dreamed would have an organized hashgachah.

“People are always asking us, ‘What’s new?’ ” notes Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the chief operating officer of the OU Kosher. “What do you mean, ‘what’s new?’ There’s always something new happening in our industry.”

And so it was that I found myself striding into the hotel for the kashrus world’s biggest annual convention.

The Humans of the Kashrus Field
I came at the tail end of breakfast on a Tuesday morning, as kashrus experts from dozens of groups scurried to begin the day of presentations.

“Who gives the hechsher on this place?” I called out after them.

I’ve always been somewhat of a risk-taker and was grateful that the joke landed sturdily. It turns out that the caterer was Greenwald’s, which happened to have done my bar mitzvah some years back. The mini knishes I remember from that special night were nowhere in sight, but they did have quite a bash set-up.

Kashrus experts, it emerged, can have quite a sense of humor. One speaker, whose name I no longer remember, began his session, “I want to introduce to you a concept you may not know of — day and night.”

At one point I tweeted a photo of Chaikel Kaufman, who spoke on the topic of — and I quote — “Why not to use a travel agent.” Within minutes I got a text from the travel agent I’ve been using for years. “Did my boss speak well?”

Yes, Mr. Kaufman is apparently a travel agent of good standing.

“The first question I get when I meet people, and I tell them what I do is, ‘A travel agent? Who uses a travel agent today?’ ” Kaufman said. “And I don’t have a good answer for that.”

Mashgichim are frequent travelers, and Kaufman was there to give them some tips on how to make the most of their experience.

There were some fascinating moments as well. Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, the executive director of AKO, as well as the kashrus administrator of cRc Kosher (Chicago) announced three new initiatives to make people more kashrus aware. The first, which you may have heard of, is a series of videos and articles from the Kashrus Awareness website. The second is providing free kashrus consultation to summer camps for their camp kitchens, and the third is still under wraps and all information I received was off the record.

Lab Meat: The Modern Ben Pakuah
Modern science has promised us the miracle of meat grown in a laboratory, as a humane alternative to slaughter. But is it kosher?

Rav Moshe Heinemann, head of the Baltimore-based Star K certifying agency, delivered a shiur on the kashrus of lab-grown meat. The first patty made from cultured meat was created not even a decade ago, but Rav Heinemann found ample precedent for it in the rich body of halachah. A fundamental issue is whether the culture begins with cells taken from a living animal, and that seems to be “not kosher,” since we cannot eat meat that did not result from shechitah.

One part of his shiur was based on the sugya of ben pakuah — a living fetus discovered in the womb when the mother is slaughtered. Mid’Oraisa, the shechitah of the mother “covers” that of the fetus, and it would be permitted to eat it without a separate shechitah. But due to maris ayin, Chazal were concerned that onlookers would not realize this is a ben pakuah, and therefore decreed that it must have its own shechitah. However, if there were something very unusual about this animal — aside from it being a ben pakuah — then it would be permitted to eat it without shechitah. Everyone would realize that this was something unusual, and that would alert them that there might be some reason it was being eaten without shechitah.

What are examples of “unusual” things that allow the ben pakuah without shechitah? The Rema (Yoreh Dei’ah 13:2) gives an example of a ben pakuah whose hooves are not split. Rav Sherira Gaon permitted two calves that were ben pakuah to be served at his child’s wedding, arguing that the presence of two bnei pakuah at the same time was unusual enough to qualify for this exception. Rav Heinemann said that he knows of a ben pakuah that was born without a tail — a prime example of a double oddity. The lack of a tail tremendously affected the animal’s ability to disperse the hundreds of flies that are attracted to its skin and Rav Heinemann thought that was peculiar enough to be another example of one that can be eaten without shechitah.

Based on all this, Rav Heinemann proposed that if the cultured meat were labeled as coming from a ben pakuah, that would also be considered unusual enough to permit its cells (and meat) without shechitah, and the meat could be cultured from it.

Assuming we overcame the shechitah issue, would the cultured meat be considered pareve?

“If it looks like meat, it tastes like meat, it smells like meat, it’s meat,” Rav Heinemann declared. “Fleishigs.”

Kosher Raspberries: Coming Through
Could raspberries soon be rejoining the pies and cocktails of the Jewish fruit bowl? They’ve been banished for many years due to insect infestation, but a new technology could make them grow as bug-free as greenhouse cabbage, according to Rabbi Lazer Fischer of Cincinnati Kosher.

Vertical farming, Rabbi Fischer said in his session, arose from scientists’ fears that the world’s existing arable land will no longer be able to feed the global population by 2050.

“You know why?” he asked. “Because the scientists say that the world has issues. The globe as we know it is in danger due to global warming, over-farming, and soil erosion.”

To solve this, environmentalists invented vertical farming.

He took attendees through a virtual tour of 80 Acres Farms, located on the outskirts of his home city of Cincinnati. The facility produces over 1.6 million plants at any given time. A dark room contains hundreds of peat mosses, each containing a single seed ensconced in dirt. Every few days it gets transferred to an increasingly larger “grow zone” to give it more space to grow. Lights of blue and red, which together emit a purplish tinge, are shone on the plants. These are the only two colors that have an effect on plants, Rabbi Fischer explained.

80 Acres Farms has designed its facility to filter all venues that could serve as conduits for bugs — humans, air, and water — eliminating the odds that insects are in the produce. How they do it is a commercial secret, though they have let the kashrus agency in on the secret. There is minimal contact with humans and air, and water consumption is 97 percent less than the 70 liters per plant per year used by traditional farming.

For now, vertical farming is used for leafy vegetables like lettuce, but 80 Acres is experimenting with strawberries and raspberries.

“It’s not a given that if it’s a vertical farm, then it is bug free,” Rabbi Fischer said. “But there is a very good chance that you could get to that point if the facility is designed properly and has proper oversight.”

No Compromises: Are We Back to the Bad Old Days?
The glut of kosher food, lamented Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the chief operating officer of OU Kosher, has made many Yidden complacent that if “everyone eats” a food then it must be kosher. This threatens to take the community back to the bad old days when anything went.

“When we were younger, we ate just about everything,” he said. “If it looked kosher or it sounded kosher, we ate it. Then, the world got better. But what I’m seeing today is that people are going back to deciding based on assumptions and guesses. Did the proliferation of ‘lists’ of approved items — such as the liquor lists or Slurpee lists — create an environment in which people are satisfied with saying that a food is probably okay?”

He pointed to the Grey Goose vodka controversy last year, in which it was suggested that the spirit contained grape-based alcohol (stam yayin), rendering it not kosher. While it ultimately turned out to be fine, the scare set Rabbi Elefant thinking — even if one day it is okay, what stops Grey Goose from mixing in grape alcohol some other day? Yet people were not worried and went right back to sipping their vodka without hashgachah.

Rabbi Elefant has a plethora of similar stories: discovering that Southern Comfort, a once-popular drink in the heimish community, contained grape-based alcohol; finding out that After Eight Dinner Mints, produced by a British company, and eaten with tea by London’s Jewish community every Friday night after the seudah, had butter oil mixed in, making it milchigs.

He said that the time has come for this attitude to change. He recalled how many years ago he told Rav Chaim Yisroel Belsky ztz”l, one of the OU’s poskim, that he was hesitant to inform companies under his supervision that wholesale changes may be coming. How can we insist that they change from what we’ve always allowed them to do?

“Anyone who has that attitude,” Rav Belsky answered firmly, “should not be working in kashrus. We must always be checking and reevaluating ourselves.”

Mooo, You’re on: Candid Camera
The recent Covid pandemic hung heavily over the conference, which was dedicated in memory of two kashrus giants who were niftar during the outbreak — Rabbi Dr. Zecharia Senter, the founder and rabbinic director of Kof-K, and Rav Don Yoel Levy, the rabbinic director of the OK. In addition, many of the sessions were devoted to lessons learned from the virus years.

Can cameras, for example, replace human oversight? The experience of the past years has proved to be a mixed bag, said Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, from the kashrus authority of Australia and New Zealand.

Rabbi Gutnick spoke about the use of cameras in the production of chalav Yisrael. Cameras have been used extensively during the Covid pandemic, but they have turned out not to be as foolproof as they initially thought.

“There are many things that you can’t see,” Rabbi Gutnick declared, “You have to be careful that you weren’t hoodwinked when using a camera.”

So what are cameras good for? Rabbi Gutnick explained that they are good as a hiddur, or if you need a specific task to verify.

He then offered a pilpul on the effect witnesses have: In some cases, they create the event, such as at a wedding. In other cases, they merely provide proof of an occurrence, such as with monetary transactions. When it comes to chalav Yisrael milk production, Rabbi Gutnick said, one could argue that a mashgiach watching the milking on a camera would be sufficient. But on the other hand, the Chasam Sofer says that the rabbinic decree prohibiting chalav akum was given for a reason that was not revealed. According to this, having a camera would not suffice, since perhaps that “other reason” requires a human physically observing the milking process. He further noted that all would agree that a Jew watching a camera would not be enough to create gevinas Yisrael (for cheese).

Other issues with cameras are that (a) they are technological, which means that they are bound to fail and break every so often, and (b) it is hard for a mashgiach to stare at a screen for extended periods of time.

“The fact of the matter is,” Rabbi Gutnick said, “watching a long row of cows walk to be milked is very boring, and it’s easy for a mashgiach looking at a monitor to fall asleep or get distracted.”

The ideal mashgiach is someone who pays attention to what is happening and reports back to the rabbinic supervisor.

One person who knew little about farms or animals was once serving as a last-minute substitute mashgiach at a dairy plant, Rabbi Gutnick recalled. He called his rabbinic supervisor, breathlessly yelling into the phone, “They’re milking a horse! They’re milking a horse!”

The kashrus agency sent someone down to check out what was happening and discovered a herd of black and white cows, with the mashgiach screaming “There’s the horse!” as he pointed at the one brown jersey cow mixed into the herd.

“We had to explain to him that a brown cow is a cow, not a horse,” Rabbi Gutnick said. “But at least that mashgiach was paying attention.”

Ask and Answer: Rav Dovid Cohen
One of the most fascinating sessions was a Q&A with Rav Dovid Cohen, the rav of Congregation Gvul Yaavetz and a prominent posek in Flatbush. Laden with wisdom and delivered with wit, he began with the pronouncement that a shiur must begin with a milsa d’bedichesa — a joke.

“Three years ago,” he began, “when Rabbi Sholem Fishbane asked me to speak at this conference, I said, ‘Everything is fine, I just have to check out the kashrus.’ ”

Rav Cohen was asked whether a kashrus organization may hire a mashgiach currently employed by a different agency.

He prefaced his answer with a fascinating, behind-the-curtains look at how rabbanim rule on halachah. The mesorah of Lita, from Rav Chaim Volozhiner to Rav Moshe Feinstein, was to study the sugya and issue a psak based on their understanding of its conclusion, even if it differed with Rishonim. The mesorah in Hungary, though, was to cite all opinions, and then rule based on the majority.

As to the question itself, Rav Cohen said that all such queries — hiring a chef away from a different caterer, offering a higher salary for a cleaning lady, or hiring a rebbi who teaches at a different mosad — have the same answer. One may not directly ask the employee to leave his place of work, but one may advertise in a place that the person will notice it and call him on his own.

“This is the minhag ha’olam, and this is the acceptable psak,” Rav Cohen declared.

Some of the questions dealt with thorny issues that had no clear answer. What is the kashrus agency’s responsibility regarding the “ambience” of a facility where it provides a hechsher? One kashrus organization recalled having a Christian symbol at an event, and another recoiled at having to provide a hechsher at an event that featured inappropriate activity.

“I don’t know,” the rav responded. “It’s a judgmental thing.”

If there is pritzus, he said he would advise against it, but if it’s primarily a staid affair that also has some objectionable content, then he would permit it. But he emphasized the responsibility kashrus organizations have to save uninformed Yidden from eating treif.

What should a kashrus organization do if a mashgiach it employs is credibly accused of withholding a get from his wife or not paying child support? These things are a massive chillul Hashem, Rav Cohen responded.

“You are part of Klal Yisrael, and Klal Yisrael must help free an agunah,” he said. “I’m not saying to fire him yesterday. But you should replace him. Tell him that we are going to look for another mashgiach. You’ll probably find someone else.”

Are there grounds to be lenient when it comes to kashrus issues in retirement homes? Rav Cohen said yes, noting that a common expression in the Shulchan Aruch is that “a sick or elderly person is allowed.” He said, “It doesn’t say that the elderly people are sick, it says sick or old.”

I left the conference with a new appreciation of the Mishnah in Avos, “Hafoch bah v’hafoch bah, d’kula bah.” Turn the Torah around and examine it from every angle, because if you do so, you will discover that it addresses every issue and every question.

Tossing Rivalry to the Winds
One of Rabbi Moshe Reich’s early assignments after coming to work at the Kof-K kashrus agency was to take a senior Pepsi official out for lunch. It was approximately 13 years ago, and the soft drink giant’s vice president of operations was coming to the Kof-K headquarters in Teaneck.

Pepsi was the agency’s client, and Kof-K CEO Rabbi Dr. Zechariah Senter tasked Rabbi Reich with handling the executive. Rabbi Reich searched for an upscale kosher restaurant and took Rabbi Senter and the executive there.

As they were seated, a waitress came over to take their order.

“I’ll take a Diet Pepsi,” said Mr. Pepsi.

“I’m sorry, we don’t carry Pepsi,” she responded. “Can I get you a Coke?”

“No,” he said. “I’ll just have some water.”

Rabbi Reich, mortified for not thinking of this simple hitch, questioned him: Would he really not drink a Coke?

“I don’t understand, Rabbi,” Sherman replied in astonishment. “You’re from the Kof-K, would you eat from the OU?”

“Sure,” Rabbi Reich said.

Sherman stared at him in shock. He then told him that he had once taken his son to a game at Yankee Stadium, where Coke has the franchise. He told his son beforehand that there would be no drinks at the game. However, in middle of the game, his son begged for a drink.

“You know the rules, we only drink Pepsi,” he told his son. “I’d rather buy a beer and get arrested than drink a Coke.”

“That,” Rabbi Reich tells me, “is what real competition looks like in the outside world.”

The Jewish version of competition was on intense display at the recent Association of Kashrus Organizations conference, where 150 representatives from 75 kashrus agencies hobnobbed, traded tales from the field, and swapped ideas.

Rabbi Reich, who organized the confab, said it was “the largest conference AKO ever had.”

“I appreciate that Mishpacha is dedicating time for this, because I don’t think the kashrus world realizes how much we actually work together,” he said.

As a symbol of the unity, the conference was dedicated in memory of Rav Senter and Rav Don Yoel Levy. Rabbi Levy was niftar on Acharon shel Pesach at the height of Covid and had a quick levayah; Rabbi Senter was niftar a year later to the day and also had a rushed levayah to make a flight to Eretz Yisrael for kevurah.

Rabbi Ari Senter, the current director of kashrus standards at Kof-K, wanted to do something for them, and he worked with AKO to dedicate the conference in their memories. He asked each kashrus organization attending to take one of the ArtScroll Shas’s seventy-some volumes so they could make a siyum haShas, which took place alongside a hachnassas sefer Torah.

Rabbi Senter of Kof-K spoke about Rabbi Don Yoel Levy of OK, and Rabbi Meir Fogelman, Rabbi Levy’s son-in-law, paid tribute to the late Rabbi Senter.

“Everyone thought we made a mistake,” Rabbi Reich said. “People were asking, ‘Why is Rabbi Senter talking about Rabbi Levy, shouldn’t it be the opposite?’ But we told everyone we did this on purpose.”

This was Rabbi Reich’s third stint as AKO conference organizer.

“I felt like I was making a chasunah but I didn’t have to pay for it,” he joked. “I had to make a seating chart, trying to make sure that people who have things in common sit near each other.”

His first conference was in 2018, followed by another in 2020, which ran alongside the Siyum HaShas on daf yomi on January 1. The AKO organization was established in 1985 but reached its current format two decades ago. Responsibility for the annual conventions rotates among several agencies.

The current one was originally scheduled for the end of December, but with the Omicron variant spreading, Rabbi Senter felt it would be a chillul Hashem if there was a Covid outbreak because of it, so it was canceled.

Aside from the US and Canada, four other countries were represented — South Africa, Britain, Israel, and Australia. Several heimishe agencies attended for the first time. Rav Dovid Cohen was there as a guest the entire time, making himself available to answer questions privately.

One priority of conference organizers was the smaller kashrus agencies, since the Kof-K regularly travels to their cities to train in their mashgichim. There are seven major kashrus certifiers in North America — OU, OK, Star-K, Kof-K, and cRc in the United States, and COR in Ontario and MK in Montreal — and some five dozen smaller ones spread out throughout the country, from AKC in Atlanta to OVK in St. Louis to the Rabbinic Council of California. The conference held a special session on how to certify kashrus properly utilizing just one or two staffers.

Reflecting on the conference, Rabbi Reich said, “You had the new guard and the old guard getting together, having that handshake and getting to know each other. It was a tremendous display of achdus. I’m still getting messages from people who say they are still riding the coattails of the conference. That should be the ultimate message.”

 

 

Kosher Certification Has Gone Mainstream

Posted on: April 14th, 2022 by Kosher Michigan

Republished from Food Safety News

By Cookson Beecher on April 19, 2022

For the approximately 15.2 million Jewish people in the world, this is a time to celebrate Passover — the festival commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery in the 1200s BC. This year the holiday runs from April 15 through April 22.

As with other holidays, food is an important part of this annual celebration, with the main observances centering around a special home service called the seder, which includes a festive meal. The foods served must all be kosher.

Kosher Certification Agency Near Me - Kosher Supervision

Derived from Hebrew, kosher means to be “pure, proper or suitable for consumption.” It’s a term that describes foods that comply with dietary guidelines set by traditional Jewish law. Not only do these laws set forth which foods may be consumed, but also how they must be produced, processed and prepared. And which foods should not be eaten.

With the extra supervision required to be accepted as kosher, with oversight by rabbis for example, kosher food is perceived by many people — Jewish and non-Jewish alike — as being healthier and cleaner.

No wonder then that a kosher label on food attracts shoppers of all kinds. In fact, according to research in 2017 by Kosher Network International, the global market for kosher foods was worth $24 billion, with growth expected to hit 11.5 percent by 2025.

OK Kosher, one of the largest kosher certification organizations in the world, has certified about 700,000 products made by 4,000 manufacturers, which include Kraft, Heinz, Kellogg and General Mills. Even Coca Cola has gone Kosher.

Rabbi Eli Lando, executive manager of OK Kosher, said that by and large, “consumers see a kosher certification as a verification that a product is healthy, clean and safe. And while the certification has roots in religious traditions that are thousands of years old, it now speaks directly to the modern consumer’s demand for wholesome foods.”

Although there are 6 million Jews in the United States, according to World Population Review, Lando said Jewish people represent only 20 percent of the kosher product consumer base.

In other words, kosher has gone mainstream, with social media helping to boost people’s awareness of it.

Roger Horowitz, author of “Kosher USA,” describes a Kosher seal as a “silent salesman.

“It may seem ancient,” he said, but the people doing it are modern and in the modern marketplace.”

What’s kosher and what isn’t
Food that is kosher must adhere to specific Biblical-based dietary laws. Some of these rules require only eating animals that are kosher — cloven (split) hooved mammals that chew cud. These include cows, sheep, goats, lambs, oxen and deer. Cuts of beef from the hindquarters of the animal, such as flank, short loin, sirloin, round and shank, are not considered kosher.

Some meats, such as meat from pigs, rabbits, squirrels, camels, kangaroos and horses are not considered kosher.

Pigs? Pigs can transmit trichinellosis, or trichinosis, a disease transmitted by eating raw or undercooked pork contaminated with the parasite Trichinella, which is not visible to the naked eye. Symptoms range from nausea to heart and breathing problems. In the past, trichinosis was fairly common and can still be a problem in rural areas.

The best way to prevent trichinellosis is to cook meat to a temperature of 71 degrees C (160 degrees F). Freezing, curing or salting, drying, smoking, or microwaving meat may not kill infective parasites. Of course, In the case of kosher, you can prevent infections by not eating pork altogether. In Biblical days, this was a practical safeguard against it.

Certain domesticated fowl, such as chicken, geese, quail, dove and turkey may be eaten. But predator birds such as eagles and hawks may not.

Fish is considered kosher only if the fish has fins and scales. This would include tuna, salmon, halibut and pickerel. But shrimp, crab, oysters, lobster and other types of shellfish are not permitted. That’s because they have spread typhoid and are also a source of a type of hives.

Meanwhile fish and eggs and plant-based meats are classified as “neutral,” meaning they don’t contain milk or fish.

Fruits in their unprocessed forms are kosher but they can’t contain insects, which means they must be inspected to make sure no insects or larvae are present before being sold or eaten. Specially trained rabbis do the inspections.

Nuts and seeds and the oils from them are kosher, although sometimes the processing of these foods can make them non-kosher because of possible cross-contamination from equipment that was used for meat or dairy products.

Also, under kosher rules, meat and dairy may not be made or eaten together. In other words, it’s one or the other at mealtime. This is based on the belief that dairy foods and meat digest at unequal rates, which is hard on the body.

Grains for the most part are fine. But during Passover, all leavened grain products — those made with yeast or a leavening substance — are forbidden. But unleavened breads such as matzo are allowed.

Kosher slaughtering . . . and after
Kosher requires that an animal or bird be slaughtered by a trained kosher slaughterer. The process involves severing the trachea and esophagus with a special razor-sharp knife. This also severs the jugular vein, which kills the animal or bird instantaneously and is said to cause a minimal amount of pain to the animal or bird.

After the animal has been slaughtered, the internal organs are inspected for any abnormalities that would make the animal non-kosher. The lungs are also checked for abscesses and other health problems.

The blood, which is a medium for the growth of bacteria, is drained. Meat must be “koshered” within 72 hours after slaughter so that the blood won’t congeal. Eating the blood of an animal or bird is forbidden.

Labeling is important
Because foods nowadays can contain so many different ingredients and also because of the complexities of modern food processing, it would be hard for a consumer to know if a product is kosher or not. That’s where labeling comes in. A kosher label on the packaging indicates that the product has met all of the necessary requirements. For those who want to adhere to kosher dietary guidelines, the advice is to choose only foods with these labels as a way to avoid accidentally eating something that isn’t kosher.

In North America, kosher certification ranges from around $5,000 to $15,000 for annual certification. As well as regular inspections, unannounced inspections are also part of the certification process. Rabbis are involved throughout the certification process. This gives consumers added trust in kosher products because an extra set of eyes are involved.

According to the JIFA, the Jewish Initiative for Animals 74 percent of Americans chooses kosher based on concerns for food safety. In fact, of the people who buy kosher products, the majority point to food safety as their key concern. And previous research has shown that American shoppers believe that kosher food is safer.

Washington state dairyman Dick Klein, who isn’t Jewish, is one of them. He said he always buys kosher, if it’s on sale, because “it’s healthier and safer.”

Some problems
Meanwhile, JIFA, says that despite the fact that people think kosher food is inherently better, this is despite the fact that almost all kosher and non-kosher meat, poultry, dairy and eggs come from animals raised on factory farms, which raises concerns about the overuse of antibiotics.

When it comes to how kosher animals are bred and raised, JIFA says that kosher certification has no relationship to antibiotic use, health genetics, confinement, or access to pasture.

Food safety enters the picture
Although many people consider kosher foods to be safe when it comes to standard food-safety requirements, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Kosher Check, a Canadian certifying company, is a full-service certification agency — but one with an important difference, according to its website. While kosher agencies worldwide aim to certify that the ingredients and manufacturing processes of their clients follow the Jewish laws of kosher as set out in the Torah (the Jewish Bible) Kosher Check goes further.

Formerly BC Kosher, it was the only agency in the world that required its clients to be in good standing with all applicable food safety rules as a condition of kosher certification.

Now Kosher Check certification has been introduced for those manufacturers that want to promote not only their kosher compliance but their commitment to food safety as well.

The company says that certification of a company’s products and manufacturing processes by Kosher Check is a mark that “not only guarantees your ingredients and products kosher status, it also acts as a mark of assurance that food safety laws have been strictly followed to a minimum level of HACCP compliance.”

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) compliance requires businesses to identify potential food safety issues and review their entire food storage and handling processes and procedures. The goal of using HACCP is to ensure a business is HACCP compliant. Compliance implies all aspects of food storage and handling are conducted in a safe manner.

Kosher Check says it can work with companies that don’t meet this standard to achieve it.

The company’s website also says that this double-layered guarantee formalizes and reinforces the widely-held belief among consumers that Kosher products are safer to consume. Besides attracting Jewish shoppers, the Kosher Check label will attract “the throngs of shoppers concerned about food safety issues,” thus greatly expanding the market for a company’s kosher products.

Kosher Certification in America – Why Kosher for Passover is Thriving

Posted on: April 14th, 2022 by Kosher Michigan

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN FOOD DIVE

The ‘silent salesman’: How kosher certification went mainstream

By Megan Poinski

Right now, Jewish people around the world are scrutinizing their cabinets and pantries, trying to get rid of any food items that aren’t kosher for Passover.

Hanan Products has been ready for this year’s holiday, which runs from the evening of April 15 to 23, for months.

Every January, the New York manufacturer of whipped toppings and creamers converts its entire factory to kosher-for-Passover production for a little more than two weeks.

In an interview in late January, as the special manufacturing period was drawing to a close, Chief Operating Officer Ryan Hanan described the process. Several rabbis were moving around the factory floor, scrutinizing every detail as the factory churned out non-dairy whipped toppings and coffee creamers that can be used during the eight days of Passover. Specialized sealing tape was everywhere. Only one line in the facility was running, and workers spent long hours making the specialized products that the commercial bakery customers Hanan Products serves will need for the annual holiday.

“It’s a little hectic,” Hanan said.

But the hectic time pays off at Passover. This year, Hanan Products made about 250,000 pounds of kosher for Passover items. The company is one of the few in the space that makes a product that can be enjoyed by observant Jews during the holiday. Rabbi Eli Lando, executive manager of certification organization OK Kosher, said that kosher for Passover is an especially hot market because most people in the Jewish faith — not just those who follow a kosher diet on a daily basis — will stick to those products during the eight-day holiday.

Every day of the year, however, kosher is a hot market, period. Research in 2017 by Kosher Network International — commonly abbreviated KNi — found that the global market for kosher foods was worth $24 billion, and was projected to grow 11.5% by 2025. OK Kosher, which is one of the largest kosher certification organizations in the world, has certified around 700,000 products made by 4,000 manufacturers, Lando said. Its clients include Kraft Heinz, Kellogg and General Mills.

Kosher is one of the most popular certifications in the food industry today. According to one commonly cited estimate, the certification is on about 40% of all products in a U.S. grocery store.

While there are about 6 million Jews in the United States, according to World Population Review, Lando said Jewish people represent only 20% of the kosher product consumer base. By and large, consumers see a kosher certification as a verification that a product is healthy, clean and safe. And while the certification has roots in religious traditions that are thousands of years old, it now speaks directly to the modern consumer’s demand for wholesome foods.

What is kosher?
In essence, food that is kosher adheres to specific dietary laws for members of the Jewish religion. Different religious texts and their interpretations lay ground rules about the types of food items and ingredients that observant Jews need to eat, as well as which foods and ingredients they need to avoid. Some of these rules involve not cooking meat and dairy together and only consuming products from animals that are kosher — generally cloven-hooved mammals that chew a cud, certain birds, and seafood with scales — and killed and prepared according to kosher rules.

In the days before widespread CPG food and drink manufacturing, it was relatively easy for observant households to be able to make choices based on those dietary laws, said OK Kosher Project Coordinator Ilana Klein.

As CPG-style food became more popular, different ingredients, additives and processes changed the ultimate composition of food and drink. It became much more difficult for individual consumers to know whether items met with their dietary laws. So, Klein said, kosher certification groups formed to visit manufacturing facilities, scrutinize and study ingredients and offer advice to CPGs and consumers about which foods, processes and ingredients were kosher.

OK Kosher has been certifying food products since 1935, and is one of the larger certification organizations today. The ingredients and manufacturing processes for every product that has the organization’s circled K on its packaging have been scrutinized by OK Kosher’s staff of experts. In addition to all of the CPG products OK Kosher has verified, Lando said there are more than 1 million ingredients that the group monitors.

“Any certification worldwide has their standards based on regulations that were developed by mankind, people who have come together and decided that this would be the standard,” Lando said. “The standard of kosher is the interpretation of the Bible, which has been in Jewish tradition for thousands of years.”

Kosher certification is not about ensuring food is high quality or healthy, Lando said. It attests certain processes related to safety and purity enshrined in Jewish law are followed. And it means that those who work with certification — many of whom are rabbis — continue to make site visits and investigate processes and ingredients.

“Any certification worldwide has their standards based on regulations that were developed by mankind, people who have come together and decided that this would be the standard. The standard of kosher is the interpretation of the Bible, which has been in Jewish tradition for thousands of years.”

Geller, who is known as the “Queen of Kosher” for her presence in Jewish lifestyle media — writing cookbooks, hosting online cooking shows and founding KNi — said that the halo of a kosher certification has deep roots. While it is important to consumers who only eat kosher products all year long, it’s also become synonymous in popular culture for something that is pure and honest. After all, she said, it’s not uncommon for people making any kind of agreement to talk about whether it is “kosher.”

“People have a lot of reverence for a religious set of eyes, which cannot be compromised,” Geller said. “So they really know that whatever is in the package is actually in the package — nothing more, nothing less. And there’s an independent board or body governing that process. That’s why it’s become so much more mainstream.”

Kosher continues to be top-of-mind for both consumers and manufacturers. According to Innova Market Insights, almost a third of all product launches in 2021 had a kosher claim. More than half of all dessert and ice cream launches were certified kosher, and 17% of the new kosher launches came from the bakery category.

Read More in Manufacturing
Roger Horowitz, author of “Kosher USA: How Coke Became Kosher and Other Tales of Modern Food,” said that in this day and age, a kosher certification is almost a need-to-have. Unless a product is something that could never be kosher certified — for example, something containing shrimp — or it would be extremely expensive to create a kosher version — like a budget product that contains meat — the default is for it to become kosher certified.

In kosher we trust
While kosher certification began as a way to tell members of a religious community what they could eat, the symbol means much more to a wider swath of consumers today.

“If the product has a kosher symbol on it, it says … [it is] a company that invests in quality, a company that cares about the product they make,” OK Kosher’s Lando said.

Lando recalls something an attorney told him: Kosher certifiers answer to a higher authority. For that reason, he said, they don’t let things slide. When examining manufacturing facilities, kosher certification groups point out any issues and force the manufacturers to deal with them.

Because of the vital role a kosher certification plays to observant consumers, Lando said that transparency is key. The effect of that transparency, as well as the trust the community places in rabbis, adds to the deference that consumers give the certification.

The popularity of kosher certification is something that has snowballed through the years. Horowitz said that one impetus for manufacturers to get the certification is simply access. There are areas of the U.S. with larger Jewish populations — like the New York City region, as well as several other East Coast cities. Grocery retailers that serve those populations may prefer to put more kosher products on their shelves simply for those customers. And if these stores are part of larger chains, the kosher products will spread to new locations.

Geller said this begins a validation loop for kosher food. As there are more kosher certified products available throughout the store, she said, they become both more prevalent and prominent. The sheer numbers, she said, increase demand among consumers.

Kosher also has the connotation of being healthy, Geller said — though the certification has nothing to do with nutritional qualities. Kosher certifications are usually next to the other labels and symbols that show a product’s nutritional and ingredient qualities, such as “vegan friendly,” “organic,” “all-natural” or “gluten-free,” providing the association.

Kosher certification offers other helpful information to consumers, Horowitz said. If a consumer is lactose intolerant, for example, kosher certification can indicate whether a product contains dairy.

“People have a lot of reverence for a religious set of eyes, which cannot be compromised. So they really know that whatever is in the package is actually in the package — nothing more, nothing less. And there’s an independent board or body governing that process.”

The 2017 KNi study found that kosher products drive three times larger basket sizes among shoppers, though only 10% of those products come from specialty kosher sections that provide Jewish ethnic food. Geller said the reasoning behind this is two-fold. For consumers eating all kosher food for religious reasons, they follow other Jewish traditions, including weekly entertaining on the Sabbath. This is akin to having a Thanksgiving-style meal each week, she said, inviting friends, extended family and neighbors.

For consumers who have no religious reason to buy kosher food, the ones who pay close attention to the certification tend to be more affluent, Geller said. These people usually buy more at the store anyway, but they are also more apt to pay premium prices for the branded products they most want.

Because kosher traditions date back thousands of years and find their beginnings in a religious, ethnic and cultural community, Geller said that kosher presents a sense of authenticity. As people are embracing more genuine forms of food and drink, items that are kosher fit into that space for consumers.

“They really, really feel that it’s authentic, and from the source and it’s timeless,” Geller said. “…If you want to really learn how to make tomato sauce, I want an Italian grandmother to teach it to me. That’s the idea with kosher food.”

How to be kosher
While hundreds of thousands of products have kosher certifications, the right to bear a kosher seal is something that is hard earned. OK Kosher’s Klein said that the certification goes far deeper than filling out a form and checking boxes.

“It became more and more sophisticated as time went on, and it’s definitely one of the major pioneers in the United States and across the world,” Klein said. “Our organization is constantly upholding the standards, setting the standards, determining new standards, always examining the new technology and new practices.”

Lando said that earning kosher certification through OK Kosher is no different than working with any other regulatory agency. After a CPG manufacturer applies online, OK Kosher discusses product specifics with the company and visits its manufacturing facility. It puts together a certification plan and requirements, and schedules visits to ensure that the manufacturing lines remain in compliance. The manufacturer also signs a legal agreement to use the OK Kosher trademark.

It can take as little as four weeks for a product to get an initial kosher certification, depending on how ready the item and facility are. OK Kosher’s certification lasts a year, meaning all companies are subjected to at least an annual reinspection. However, Lando said, kosher inspectors do make unplanned visits to ensure companies are continuing to follow the proper procedures to maintain certification.

In his book, Horowitz wrote about some of the specific challenges CPG companies have dealt with as they sought kosher certification. Many involved single ingredients that were not kosher. Horowitz said that gelatin has caused problems through the years. The ingredient can be sourced from a variety of places — including red meat, fish and vegetables — but the mouthfeel varies depending on its source. Horowitz said that finding a kosher source of gelatin that does not impact the eating experience has been challenging, especially because the ingredient must be sourced from an animal killed in accordance with kosher law.

“If you’re a large manufacturer making large sorts of products, if you have to disrupt the assumptions and the habits of consumers by changing their product mix by changing the gelatin, it’s not worth it for you to do that,” Horowitz said.

“If you want to really learn how to make tomato sauce, I want an Italian grandmother to teach it to me. That’s the idea with kosher food.”

In the 1950s, Coca-Cola faced a similar ingredient challenge, Horowitz said. At the time, its signature soda contained a small amount of animal-derived glycerin, which is not kosher. However, industrial ingredient producers found that petroleum-derived glycerin is kosher, edible and less expensive than the animal variety, Horowitz said. All of those contributed to Coca-Cola — and other manufacturers — turning to the petroleum-derived ingredient.

Lando advises companies today to go into designing products and manufacturing processes already thinking of kosher certification. If a company has to make big changes in order to become kosher, or if attaining certification gets in the way of doing business, he often counsels them not to do it. For a food manufacturer to make kosher products, the ingredients, equipment and production lines all need to be certified. And it all needs to be kept in order — a non-religious person may not mind if a product with a kosher seal was made on a production line that did not undergo proper sanitization processes, for example, but it means much more to someone who is observant.

Like many trends today, KNi’s Geller thinks that kosher’s popularity has been magnified by social media. Historically, while many large CPG brands have offered certified kosher products for decades, not many had promoted it, and the certification seal itself isn’t especially prominent on packaging. Geller said manufacturers seemed to not consider kosher as an earned certification that every consumer would want to know about.

About 10 to 15 years ago, Geller said, that started to change. The ability to do specific marketing on social media helped drive the realization of how important a kosher certification really is to consumers.

“They started to actually target the kosher customer, and then saw that value expand out to … the international community or those that just see kosher as a symbol of approval,” Geller said. “Then the explosion really happened and the certification went mainstream.”

On KNi, the huge popularity of kosher food is evident. Geller publishes an array of KNi cooking videos featuring different cuisines and cooking styles, in which all of the recipes are kosher. The most popular videos are on KNi’s homepage — with 187.3 million views for a video on Middle Eastern dips, 74 million views for one on the Arabic dip matbucha and 44.2 million views for one on cheese-stuffed falafel.

“There are only 15 million Jewish people in the entire world,” Geller said. “People. We’re talking about men, women, children and babies. And we have videos with over 10 million, 15 million views.”

As far as certifications go, kosher is relatively inexpensive. OK Kosher is a nonprofit, Lando said, and most companies in North America pay somewhere around $5,000 to $15,000 for an annual certification. The cost is based on aspects like the location, number, size or volume of facilities where the food is made and the amount of supervision and monitoring needed based on the product type.

When manufacturers ask what the return on investment is for making a product kosher, Lando responds that they should also consider the “return on ignoring.” He noted that certification costs are a fraction of what a company pays for larger marketing expenses, like a Super Bowl ad.

“If you take off the kosher symbol, you will find out how many customers you chased away, and that is going to be a much more expensive lesson to learn,” Lando said. “…It’s not a mistake that companies large and small, have kosher symbols on their products year after year after year after year.”

Horowitz said studies have shown only about one in 10 consumers seeking a kosher certification on products actually follows a kosher diet.

“You’re talking about millions of people who are looking for a kosher label on products,” Horowitz said. “And if that label can be obtained for a relatively modest cost, then it becomes an asset to the marketing activities.”

Kosher certification organizations — and CPG manufacturers as well — all realize that a kosher seal on a package is like a “silent salesman,” Horowitz said. And while certification organizations have a primary interest of ensuring products with the seal truly are kosher, there is a secondary goal of encouraging consumers to buy the products.

“Kosher: It may seem ancient, but the people doing it are modern and in the modern marketplace,” Horowitz said.

Keeping Kosher – Spiritual Eating (By Rabbi Warren Goldstein)

Posted on: March 24th, 2022 by Kosher Michigan

Spiritual Eating
by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

Keeping kosher is a vital part of Jewish life. The word “kosher” comes from the Hebrew word kasher, meaning “fit” or “proper”. And, indeed, the term itself has even entered the general vernacular. When something is kosher, it is considered “above board” and meets certain required standards. As we shall see, kosher is an entire worldview – a philosophy on food, and on life in general.

Before delving into the ideas and philosophy behind kosher, it’s important to acknowledge two things. Firstly, the basis for all of the mitzvot is that God commanded us to perform them. With loyalty and commitment, we dedicate our lives to fulfilling His will, whether or not we understand the true meaning and significance of the commandments. While acknowledging that we cannot truly probe the ultimate Divine wisdom and motivation behind the mitzvot, nevertheless, we are called on to do our best to understand them so the mitzvot can have a maximum impact on who we are and have a maximum transformative impact on making us into better people. This follows the philosophy of the Ramban when it comes to mitzvot, which he says is about how the mitzvot transform and make us into better people.

Secondly, kosher encompasses a wide range of halachic principles and applications, each immensely detailed. There are the laws governing which animals are kosher and which are not, documented in this week’s parsha, Shemini. There are the laws governing how animals are slaughtered and prepared for consumption. There are the laws governing the separation of milk and meat. Each of these aspects of kosher comprises its own world of details and ideas and meanings, and we can’t possibly do justice to them in a short discussion.

But, we can make a start. Let us embark on a journey of discovery. And perhaps, the best place to begin is with our perspective on non-kosher food. Is there something intrinsically wrong with non-kosher food? Is it simply unhealthy? Rav Yitzchak Don Abavarnel, one of our great sages, argues forcefully that kashrut has nothing to do with health. He explains that the Torah is a book of Divine wisdom, not a health manual. Furthermore, he says, there is no indication that non-Jews who eat nonkosher foods are any less healthy than Jews, and also, that there are a number of unhealthy foods and even toxic substances not even mentioned in the Torah as being unkosher.

According to the Abarbarnel, and many other sources, keeping kosher is about spiritual health. The Maharal of Prague has a particular perspective and maintains that this doesn’t mean there is anything bad intrinsically, whether spiritually or physically, with non-kosher food. Rabbi Azriel Chaim Goldfein cites the halachic ruling that if you have three indistinguishable pieces of meat, two of which you know for certain are kosher, and they become mixed up, you are in fact permitted to eat all three, since the two kosher cuts are in the majority, and the non-kosher cut gets subsumed into them. (If you have a question of this nature, you should consult a competent halachic authority just to clarify all the details and make sure that the halacha is being properly applied.) If there were something intrinsically wrong with the non-kosher meat, then how could this principle of nullification in the majority apply?

So, what is the distinction between kosher and non-kosher? The Maharal explains that the Torah is the spiritual blueprint of the world. He says that keeping kosher, as with all the other mitzvot, aligns us with this spiritual blueprint, and helps us actualise our latent spiritual potential. And so, the laws of kosher follow the framework of spiritual principles that God created. And that framework exists external to the food itself. Eating kosher is living in harmony and in sync with the spiritual blueprint of the universe, and not doing so is departing from that framework, and that is spiritually damaging.

To illustrate this, the Maharal cites the Midrash, which describes kashrut as a way “to purify people”. This purification takes place through the connection of a person’s soul to the ultimate spiritual blueprint of the world, which was created by God. But, it is not about the intrinsic nature of the food itself. He cites another Midrash which says: “A person should not say I do not want pork… but rather I would like it, but what can I do that my Father in Heaven has decreed upon me [not to have it].” (Torat Kohanim Kedoshim) So the laws of kashrut follow a framework of Godgiven spiritual principles embedded in the Torah – a framework that exists external to the food itself.

Rabbeinu Bechaye shares a different perspective on kosher. In his commentary on this week’s parsha, he refers to the verse that concludes the section dealing with the laws of kashrut: “And you shall sanctify yourselves and you shall be holy, for I am holy.” (Vayikra 11:44) Rabbeinu Bechaye says that we see from this verse that keeping kosher helps us to live a life of holiness.

There are two primary components to the human being – the physical and the spiritual. These two components are naturally in conflict with one another, and the fact that they co-exist in a single organism is itself something wondrous. But to help us navigate this power struggle and ensure the spiritual force within us ultimately frames and guides our physical drives, the Torah provides for the expression and fulfilment of these physical desires within a spiritually and ethically enriching framework. This framework helps us infuse meaning into even the most mundane, basic activities such as eating. It is in this context that the laws of kosher need to be seen.

Rabbeinu Bechaye says the more immediate physical needs of the body can easily overwhelm our spiritual selves. This natural predominance of the physical over the spiritual is rooted in the fact that human beings are physical before we are spiritual; as children we are consumed by our physical wants and needs, and only later do we develop a spiritual muscle, a capacity to reflect and to channel, to exercise self-restraint. There’s also the fact that the world we inhabit is very much a physical, material one; the soul is a stranger in this world.

And so, we need all the help we can get to transcend this material world, and our physical selves, and become truly elevated, spiritual beings. Keeping kosher does this because it places a spiritual framework around what we eat. We can’t just eat whatever we want. We learn self-restraint. And we immerse ourselves in this holy framework from a young age. The Sforno says the laws of kosher help us achieve Godliness, even holiness, in this world.

Kosher fits into a broader philosophy of food and of eating, one that is saturated with holiness, spirituality and meaning. We have in the Torah the mitzvah of Birkat Hamazon – Grace after Meals – in terms of which we give thanks to God after eating, that the process of eating is not just one of self-gratification, but also one connected to gratitude. The sages of the Talmud added to that, and formulated blessings to be said before eating food to acknowledge where it comes from. It is part of acknowledging that this world and everything in it belongs to God, and that, when we take from it, we express our gratitude.

We don’t just consume. We stop. We give thanks to God, we give thought to whether or not the food is kosher. We acknowledge the source of the food and give thanks for its tastiness, its nourishing goodness. Eating becomes a more refined, uplifting and meaningful experience in this way.

This idea of elevation is embodied in the mitzvah of washing our hands before eating bread. The blessing we recite is al netilat yadayim. The word netilah, explains Rav Yaakov Zvi Mecklenberg, comes from another Hebrew word, meaning elevation. The implication is clear. When we wash our hands before eating, we elevate ourselves, we connect the act of eating to something higher, something greater than merely satiating our hunger.

Rav Mecklenberg connects the mitzvah of washing before bread to the requirement that the Kohanim, the priests in the Beit Hamikdash, wash their hands before beginning the sacred Temple service. He says we, too, should view this world as one great Beit Hamikdash, a world filled with holiness, with God’s presence, where we are called on to serve God and to live lives of meaning and dedication and spirituality. The world, and everything in it, was created by God, and therefore belongs to God, like the holy property of the Temple. And when we reach out to take anything from this world, from God Himself, we should do so in a state of holiness and purity, with a sense of reverence for the sacred task at hand.

Ultimately, we see that kosher and the laws around eating are about transcending the self, transcending our own selfish physical needs, and creating a holy framework for them. In doing so, we get in touch with our souls, our spiritual selves. We attain a sense of self-mastery, and become not merely a body, but a soul clothed in physical garments. Whatever our bodies take from this world needs to be done in a framework of morality and ethics, in a framework of kindness and compassion, of spirituality, meaning and elevation. And then the experience of eating food gets transformed from an animalistic self-gratification experience into one that is truly holy, and elevated into something meaningful, refined and ethical, and we ourselves become transformed.

Kosher Foods Industry Grows in U.S. and Globally

Posted on: January 17th, 2022 by Kosher Michigan

The awareness regarding health and wellness is rising rapidly. This trend has caused the demand and availability for various types of kosher food to grow speedily in the past several decades. This growth is expected to continue to rise over the next decade and beyond.

The global kosher food market is expected to reach a market size of $28.85 billion by 2028, and project a CAGR of 4.16% during the forecast period, 2019-2028. The base year considered for the market study is 2018, and the forecast period is between 2019 and 2028.

Key factors fuelling the global kosher food market growth: High prevalence of lactose intolerance, the demand for kosher food products among non-Jewish consumers, and an increase in the number of health-conscious consumers.

Rabbi Jason Miller of Kosher Michigan Kosher Certification Agency

 

In the 1990s, only 18 kosher certification agencies were functional across the world. With the expansion of the global kosher certification industry, the current number is estimated to be over 1,600 kosher certification agencies led by rabbis. Of this number, approximately 600 are found in the United States. Of the 600 kosher certification agencies in the U.S., the vast majority are run by Orthodox rabbis. Since the mid-2000s, a small number of U.S.-based kosher certification agencies have been started by non-Orthodox rabbis, including Rabbi Jason Miller of Michigan, the founder and kosher director of Kosher Michigan — KM Kosher Certification Agency, based in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Rabbi Miller’s kosher organization now boasts hundreds of clients around North America plus dozens more in India. While Miller faced much pessimism when he launched KM back in 2008, he was determined to grow his kosher agency, which is now the largest non-Orthodox kosher certification agency in the world.

What has fueled the growth in the kosher market?

This growth is primarily attributed to customer demands for allergen-free, clean labels, organic, and vegan foods. As companies are continually adapting to kosher certification, it has become mandatory for raw material suppliers to be kosher certified. This upsurge in demand for kosher food products around the world has renewed prospects for enterprises, including raw material suppliers and kosher food manufacturers.

The consumption of kosher food by non-Jewish consumers is also propelling market growth in the kosher segment. The snacks and savory, bakery, and confectionery product segments, under the product category, are estimated to witness a significant compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the forecast period. Snacks and savory items comprise rolls, wraps, sandwiches, bread, nachos, crackers, chips, gushers, and peanut butter, among several others. Bakery and confectionary products like cookies, pies, pastries, and muffins are usually prepared using flour. The growth of these segments is driven by emerging and new market players, and assorted food items.

The North American region is estimated to be the major contributor to the global market in terms of market share. The United States is second to Israel in terms of Jews and is one of the most lucrative markets for kosher food manufacturers. Therefore, the presence of Jews in the United States and Canada bolsters the kosher food market growth in the North American region. Furthermore, the adoption of kosher food by the non-Jewish community, owing to its benefits, is anticipated to offer potential expansion opportunities for the market players in the region.

The global market is witnessing potential lucrative opportunities, owing to the rising presence of varied kosher food products. The professional culinary sector has emerged as a positive trend, increasing the popularity of kosher food. Chefs are the key cuisine trend drivers. Online shopping is one of the leading distribution channels for kosher food products as a result of consumer behavior, availability, and variety.

Kosher Food Industry Set to Expand Greatly

Posted on: November 12th, 2021 by Kosher Michigan

Kosher Foods Market to See a Big Increase in 2023 and Beyond

“There’s no question that the kosher food industry has already grown significantly and is on a path toward historic expansion,” said Rabbi Jason Miller, a Conservative rabbi and the founder of Kosher Michigan. Kosher Michigan is a kosher certification agency based in Rabbi Miller’s hometown of Metro Detroit, Michigan. Launched in 2008, Kosher Michigan (KM) has seen immense year-over-year growth in both the number of kosher clients as well as the shear number of food products KM has certified as kosher. An expansion to India and some Far East countries in 2015 has led KM’s advancement in the spice and dry foods industry.

Rabbi Miller, the kosher director of Kosher Michigan Kosher Certification Agency, referenced a recent competitive landscape summary of the “Kosher Foods Market” report that detailed the essence of what is driving the record numbers of growth in the kosher food industry. The report Rabbi Miller referred to evaluates historical data on the kosher foods market growth and compares it with current market situations.

Rabbi Jason Miller of Kosher Michigan Kosher Certification Agency

 

Further information about the Kosher Food Industry report also focuses on market share, the highest growth rate of emerging players, business strategies, production, and prospects. The report provides data to the customers that are of historical & statistical significance informative. It helps to enable readers to have a detailed analysis of the development of the market.

The Kosher Foods market report provides a detailed analysis of the major market players with the overall market overview of their business, recent developments, expansion plans, gross margin, profit status, and strategies. Additionally, this report includes the current market opportunity of the market. The research report contains development restraints and challenges faced which can control the market growth and risk. The company profile discovers a business overview and financial information include economic growth and recovery during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kosher Foods Market Segment and Scope:

The Kosher Foods market report growth depends on product application, type, technology, and region. This report covers a comprehensive outlook on market size, regional sales, growth rate, global opportunities, and manufacturing costs in the respective regions. It provides detailed information on emerging trends, leading competitors based on the technology-oriented innovations to demonstrate the Kosher Foods market growth and portfolio strategies. Each market segmentation allows readers to grasp the difficulties of the current market situations. Our report provides insights into the financial fluctuations of all the major players, along with its product benchmarking and SWOT analysis. The competitive landscape includes development strategies, market share, and market ranking analysis globally.

The global Kosher Foods market report provides a holistic evaluation of the market for the forecast period (2021–2027). The report comprises of various segments as well an analysis of the trends and factors that are playing a substantial role in the market. These factors; the market dynamics, involves the drivers, restraints, opportunities and challenges through which the impact of these factors in the market are outlined. An extended view of regional analysis aims to bring readers closer to market opportunities and risks. It also examines the economic scenarios with the impact of Covid-19 analysis is expected to grow the market on a large and small scale.

Geographical Analysis:

The global Kosher Foods Market research report provides compressive data of the current market, geographical regions, and sub-regions are worldwide. This report gives market size estimates and forecasts in different countries. The report focuses on quantitative records with applicable qualitative insights. The report highlights the significant regions are North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Africa, South America.

Some of the key questions answered in this report:

What will the market growth rate, growth momentum or acceleration market carries during the forecast period?
Which are the key factors driving the Kosher Foods market?
What was the size of the emerging Kosher Foods market by value in 2021?
What will be the size of the emerging Kosher Foods market in 2027?
Which region is expected to hold the highest market share in the Kosher Foods market?
What trends, challenges and barriers will impact the development and sizing of the global Kosher Foods market?

Making a Pizza Food Truck Kosher

Posted on: October 15th, 2021 by Kosher Michigan

Question: Can a food truck that makes pizza (non-kosher) be made kosher for an event?

Answer: Yes, it can be done.

A Kosher Michigan mashgiach (kosher supervisor) kashered a Chicago-area pizza food truck for an event. With a “severe” cleaning, burning (the ovens were kept at temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit for over an hour), foil covering of prep areas, and the purchase of brand new utensils, this well-known food truck was made strict kosher for an event in the Chicagoland suburbs. All ingredients for the pizzas were ensured to be strictly kosher with approved hekhsherim (kosher symbols) as well.

Kashering Pizza Food Truck in Chicago

Can Vegan Pork be Kosher?

Posted on: October 4th, 2021 by Kosher Michigan

Judaism often thrives on new technologies. That doesn’t mean Impossible Pork should be kosher.

(JTA) — The Orthodox Union won’t certify Impossible Pork as kosher, representing a break from the way that decisions about certifying kosher food are normally made. But as someone who studies Judaism’s long relationship with technology, I would argue that it is undoubtedly the right move.

Since the OU first started certifying products a century ago, kosher supervision has always remained doggedly focused on objective fact-finding: Food is kosher because of what’s in it and how it’s made (and, occasionally, who makes it) and that’s basically it. To get this information, modern kosher supervision agencies have built out fantastically complex global operations that keep track of complicated and constantly shifting supply chains. These systems are often incurious about almost everything not directly related to the food processing itself, including whether factory working conditions are acceptable, whether the ingredients are sustainably sourced, or whether the certified product will kill you (though politics sometimes leaks in anyway).

So it was unusual when the OU — the largest certifier of kosher products in the world — denied certification to Impossible Pork, a next-gen meat substitute, despite the fact that every ingredient in the product is kosher. The OU explained that it could not certify a product that described itself as pork.

Despite protestations to the contrary from hungry Jews and my own deep culinary curiosity, I believe that the OU made the right call. Though it seems that the decision was narrowly decided, the move to withhold kosher certification may in fact turn out to be one of the most important Jewish legal decisions of the 21st century. This may seem like a hyperbolic way of talking about soy protein slurry, but I really think it isn’t. The OU’s move is a first, tentative step towards a stance on technological innovation that desperately needs to become more common.

Impossible Pork Char Siu Buns were presented at a consumer technology conference in Las Vegas in January 2020.

To understand why, we need to understand the effect of new technologies on legal regimes. Law needs to be specific to be effective, and so well-constructed law is often carefully tailored to the nitty-gritty details of specific objects, systems and ways of behaving. When a new technology comes along and replaces the old — even if the new tech does exactly the same thing as the old — it can make the old law irrelevant unless lawmakers intervene with an update. Interventions are especially important when the old technology has been around for a long time and law has grown intertwined with it. Regulating cryptocurrency, for example, is crucial precisely because so many financial regulations assume that transactions take place exclusively through state-issued currency that is mostly stored in banks.

But if the job of lawmakers is to create continuities between old and new tech, many modern tech firms, with their “move fast and break things” culture, often seem hellbent on tearing them apart. The makers of new technology like to call things “unprecedented” because it generates hype, but disconnecting new technologies from old ones is also a good way of shielding themselves from ethical and legal responsibility for how those technologies behave.

This new tech dynamic plays out in Jewish law, too. How should the rule forbidding leather shoes on Yom Kippur — because they were considered an indulgence — apply in an era of comfortable synthetic shoes? Must one wear tzitzit (ritual fringes) at all when modern shirts don’t have the four corners that triggered the Biblical requirement of tzitzit? On a larger scale, the Shabbat elevator, the Kosher Lamp, as well as a host of technologies developed by Israel’s Tzomet Institute, all employ new technologies to circumvent existing rules while keeping within the letter, if not the spirit, of the law.

Sometimes Jews have allowed these rules to be eroded because the stakes didn’t feel high enough, but when a new technology threatens to undermine Jewish tradition, the rabbis have tended to respond appropriately.

The best example of this is the ban on turning electricity on or off on Shabbat. For millennia, the experience of Shabbat was shaped by the Biblical prohibition on lighting fires; with the advent of electricity at the turn of the last century, that ban threatened to become irrelevant. Orthodox rabbis responded by coalescing around the argument that electricity is fire, or was covered by some other well-established prohibition. That electricity is not actually fire didn’t matter; the argument carried because it was understood by leadership and laity alike that electricity was coming to replace fire, to do everything fire could do and more. Today, the restrictions on electricity are a cornerstone of the Shabbat experience, so fundamental that it is hard for many observant Jews to imagine Shabbat without it.

Is Impossible Pork the 21st century version of electricity? There’s a good case to be made that it is. The rise of plant-based meat substitutes has been spurred by ethical and environmental concerns around meat production. Their success depends on their being so delicious that they escape from the boutique realm of eco-conscious consumers and take on the same cultural role as meat. That Burger King offers an Impossible Whopper signals that this is already happening, as does the fact that major meat producers have invested heavily in the growth of plant-based alternatives to their own products.

These developments should be celebrated—but rather than diminishing meat’s special cultural meaning, its substitutes have only served to burnish it.

Meat has a special significance in Judaism, too. God is a big fan of animal sacrifices, and many holidays still involve the ritual or cultural use of meat — and inasmuch as meat matters, it matters that the meat isn’t pork. It’s irrelevant that the Ancient Israelite origins of the ban are obscure; it’s enough that modern observant Jews (and Muslims) still treat the ban on pig products as a cultural touchstone. We should be glad that technology has created a meaningful difference between veggie beef and veggie pork — but if the distinction is there, the ban on the pork must be, too.

The OU’s ruling does not yet amount to a full-fledged policy that all fake meat should be treated like real meat; a kosher restaurant can still serve plant-based “cheeseburgers” without fear that its license will be revoked. But even if it was not intended to be profound, the OU’s decision is an example of how all regulators, both religious and governmental, can fight back against the cultural unmooring that the present onslaught of new technology continues to cause. In this unprecedented age, creating continuity between the past and the present serves to ground society in the wisdom and norms of its own past.

is the scholar in residence and director of new media at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America and the owner of Print-o-Craft Press. He holds a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jewish Prisoners Win Right to Kosher Meals in Michigan

Posted on: February 1st, 2020 by Kosher Michigan

Kosher Meals in Michigan Prisons

From the Detroit Jewish News

A proposed settlement reached Oct. 12 grants Michigan’s Jewish prisoners the ability to have Kosher meals.
Jewish inmates in Michigan prisons will start receiving kosher meals under a proposed settlement reached Oct. 12 in a class-action lawsuit handled by the Civil Rights Clinic at Michigan State University, led by Professor Daniel Manville. “We got the entry for preliminary approval and the notices will begin going up in the 16 Michigan prisons that house Jewish inmates,” Manville said.

Manville, an ex-offender who spent four years in prison in the 1970s, is an advocate for prisoners’ rights who likes to take on cases “that make an impact,” he says. He’s been working on this case since 2013.

Kosher Food in Michigan Prisons

“It stemmed from a lawsuit by Muslim prisoners who wanted a halal diet,” he explains. “The Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) agreed to provide those prisoners with a vegan diet to settle the claim. They then extended that vegan diet to Jewish prisoners who wanted kosher meals — kind of a one-size-fits-all religious meal solution.”

Former prisoner Michael Arnold filed suit after that decision because, he said, a vegan diet lacks kosher meat and dairy and, most importantly, doesn’t adhere to kosher principles of preparation, such as proscriptions against contamination with non-kosher utensils and prep areas. Arnold, who told the Detroit Free Press, “The policy of enforced vegetarianism was targeted” at Jewish prisoners, was dropped from the suit when he was released from prison.

Arnold’s original lawsuit eventually became “Gerald Ackerman and Mark Shaykin v. Heidi Washington,” the suit that was just settled, which resolves prisoners’ claims to kosher meals.

Currently, inmates have the option of purchasing kosher meals and products at the prison commissary twice a month, but, Manville says, the cost is prohibitive for most inmates. “Each meal costs around $5-$6, which is hard to afford when you’re earning $30 a month in your prison job and need to buy shampoo and other incidentals.”

Under the proposed settlement, which is subject to a fairness hearing Dec. 11 in front of U.S. District Judge Linda Parker in Detroit, Jewish inmates who keep kosher will be entitled to meals prepared in a certified kosher kitchen within the facility or certified kosher meals from a third-party vendor. Facilities that produce kosher meals onsite must submit to inspections to maintain kosher certification.

MDOC has cited the cost of creating kosher kitchens at $100,000 for each of the 16 facilities holding Jewish prisoners, or $1.6 million. “Which seems a little high,” Manville said.

According to MDOC, there are about 600 Jewish prisoners in Michigan’s 33,000 prison population. Of those 600, Manville said, between 85 and 193 are approved for kosher meals. “The discrepancy in the numbers likely stems from the 2013 settlement that forced those requesting kosher meals to eat the vegan meals,” Manville said. “Many Jewish prisoners dropped their requests for kosher and opted for the general menu.”

Prisoners not already approved for kosher meals can become eligible for kosher meals by living kosher for 60 days, which means that prisoners must use only the religious diet line for meals and may not “purchase, receive, possess or consume” any non-kosher item from the commissary, visitors or another prisoner. If at any time they are found to have consumed something non-kosher they have to restart the 60-day process.

“That provision was added to the settlement to ensure Michigan didn’t have 32,000 prisoners decide they were Jewish once they read the notice,” Manville said.

The settlement does not resolve plaintiffs’ meat and dairy consumption claims, Manville adds. The issue of whether Jewish prisoners will receive kosher meat and dairy meals 56 days a year (each Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shavuot) is still in dispute and was just litigated early this month, “although all parties have agreed to at least one cheesecake per year,” Manville said. “We expect a ruling on that early next year.”

Manville said MDOC has claimed in court that it is reluctant to provide meat and dairy meals to kosher-observant prisoners 56 times a year because of the cost, which, according to Manville, would add $10,000-$20,000 per year in expenses for MDOC.

Kosher Foods Market Growing at 13.09% Each Year

Posted on: March 1st, 2018 by Kosher Michigan

The Global Kosher Foods Market 2017-2021 maintains a high growth which has been encouraged by the consecutive increases of industrial output, import & export, consumer consumption and capital investment for over last decades. The Kosher Foods Market report is designed to integrate qualitative and quantitative features of the industry regarding each of the regions and countries involved in the study.

Global Kosher Foods Market is maintaining an annual average growth rate of 13.09% by 2017-2021. Read the report.

Kosher Foods Market report also caters the detailed information about the crucial aspects such as drivers & restraining factors which will define the future growth of the market. In the report, Kosher Foods Market provides analysis on manufacturers, regions, types, applications, challenges, opportunities, and more.

Some of the key vendors involved in the market are ADM, Kedem Food Products, Manischewitz, Nestlé, Streit’s, Art Chocolatier, BASF, Blommer Chocolate, Brooklyn Cookie, Denovo Beverage. The companies are also trying to dominate the Kosher Foods market by investing in research and development. Acquisitions and effective mergers are one of the best domination strategies currently being used.

Based on geography regions like APAC, Europe, North America, ROW, the Kosher Foods market is studied across USA, Canada, Germany, France, India, China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Russia, and more.

SOURCE Facts Week https://factsweek.com/

 

CONTACT DETAIL

KM KOSHER CERTIFICATION AGENCY

5657 W. Maple Road
Suite B
West Bloomfield, MI 48322

Phone: 248.535.7090

Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm
Closed Saturday and Sunday

 
 

©2022 Kosher Michigan – Kosher Certification Agency | Designed by Access Technology