June 29, 2009

Kashrus Agencies Confront Many New Challenges

Baltimore…The Star-K on May 26th hosted a meeting of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO), headed by Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, who also heads the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc). Some of the questions they deliberated on included how to guarantee that domestic beer malt is not sent to a non-kosher smokehouse, where things like pork and fish are smoked, for processing; is there a way to test honey to ensure that it is pure and its kashrus remains uncompromised; at a time when the biodiesel world is collapsing, how can cheap, unacceptable glycerin be prevented from being used in the fermentation process of kosher products; and is there a concern if a coffee manufacturer sprays its coffee berries with some enzymes to help separate the husk from the bean.” The AKO Ingredient Committee, hosted by STAR-K in May, is the most active and far reaching of all of AKO’s committees,” says Rabbi Fishbane. “This committee speaks in very detailed chemical terms, not always understood by the typical lay person. Because there are 25,000 chemical components and ingredients on the list, they only got to discuss those starting with the letters I, J, and K—things like Isobutyraldehyde, Jasmine Tea Leaves, and Kelp Powder.” “Star-K was proud to host AKO,” says STAR-K president, Dr. Avrom Pollak.