June 17, 2013

Aftermath of LA Meat Scandal Draws Kashrus Community Together

LOS ANGELES — While the discovery of the presence of unauthorized meats at the Doheny Meat Market on the eve of Passover may have been a wake-up call for kosher consumers here, it has also demonstrated a new age of cooperation amongst kashrus agencies. The Rabbinical Council of California (RCC), the certifying agency for Doheny, immediately reached out to leaders of the Orthodox Union (OU) and the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) to help it perfect standards to avoid a repeat of the incident. Rabbis from the two agencies visited LA on several occasions. 

KosherToday has also learned that the RCC has reached an agreement with Kehilla Kosher, the other large kosher certification agency in the city, in an effort to improve kashrus standards across the board in the city. Kashrus sources say that one reason for the increased cooperation between agencies is better communications as a result of the existence of AKO. Kashrus agencies also frequently interface with one another as part of the certification they offer. 

A good example of agency cooperation, say kashrus sources, is when an agency certifies a plant that uses ingredients manufactured in a plant certified by another agency. The growing number of international agencies and symbols (1151, according to the 2013-2014 Kosher Supervision Guide) means that closer cooperation will become absolutely necessary, they say. In the case of the LA agreement between two major agencies, brokered by the OU and AKO, it means that even as an agency works to perfect its standards in the aftermath of a breach, the other agency “cannot simply take advantage of the situation and pick off clients.” Some agencies, especially overseas, employ the same mashgichim, in many cases emissaries of Chabad who are positioned around the world. The cooperation has also meant more universally accepted standards, from the checking of vegetables to the classification of ingredients (as to whether they require hashgacha).