January 5, 2009

Growing Kashrus Presence in China Focus of New Yorker Article

New York…China has emerged as a key component in the remarkable worldwide success story of kosher. Some 1500 companies have taken the important step of obtaining kosher certification. The China story is so intriguing that none other than The New Yorker in its January 5th issue devoted a major feature: “Letter from China – Kosher Takeout – The inspection business booms.” Patricia Marx, the author of the story, actually joined Rabbi Mordechai Grunberg of the Orthodox Union and Rabbi David Moskowitz of the Shatz Kosher Services, based in Israel, as they visited several plants throughout China. She noted that some 50 mashgichim crisscross China in what has become a focal point for many of the large kashrus agencies, including the Orthodox Union, Star-K and OK Kosher Certification. In addition to China, many of the agencies certify plants in many other countries in Southeast Asia. An estimated $350 billion of ingredient products sold in the U.S. are kosher certified, nearly 70% of all ingredients sold. The major reason for this phenomenon is that most large food manufacturing plants in the country are kosher certified and require kosher ingredients. A major concern for kashrus agencies in China is the recent safety issues that have injured and killed civilians eating foods laced with melamine that were produced in China. Kashrus organizations are discussing instituting new procedures that will require Chinese companies to produce proof of adherence to strict safety guidelines.