December 14, 2022

AKO Rabbis Deal with Many Emerging Kosher Issues

New York…It was the day after Kosherfest in November when 125 rabbis from kashrus agencies around the world gathered at the new headquarters of the Orthodox Union in Lower Manhattans. The occasion was the annual convention of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO), headed by Rabbi Shloem Fishbane. It was, said most of the participants, a colloquy of most of the emerging questions for the rabbis. How to attract more qualified mashgichim (kashrus supervisors) in an age of a critical shortage of mashgichim? Raising the salaries was a formidable proposal on the table. Why are we seeing increased infestation on products arriving from long-haul shipments? The onus for proper checking should be on local mashgichim in addition to the national inspections. How to better safeguard the high standards of kosher cheese (chalav yisrael) even in Israel? What to do with kashrus standards for home catering? Shuls? Camps? Tighten standards. What to do with kitchen personnel such as Asian chefs who often buy vegetables which requires additional bug checking? How to protect the integrity of cameras and access to rabbis? These and other issues brought home the message for greater coordination between rabbis and kashrus organizations.