July 15, 2013

Kashrus Agencies Ponder Minimum Standards for Monitoring Kosher Meat

CHICAGO — Against the background of a number of scandals involving glatt kosher meat in recent years, kashrus agencies (through the Association of Kashrus Agencies – AKO) are discussing the implementation of universally accepted minimum standards. If adopted, it would add many new responsibilities to plants and facilities as well as mashgichim (kosher supervisors) and their superiors. 

Special emphasis would be placed in repacking facilities where mashgichim would have to calculate how many trays, bags, and packages need to be used for one hundred pounds of meat and make sure the numbers concur. Kashrus inspectors would have to visit on a monthly basis and audit the physical and electronic files recording the invoices as well as the accounts receivable and the accounts payable. Kashrus agencies would be responsible for ordering all seals, force facilities to use holograms which are extremely difficult to forge, and pay mashgichim.

Slaughterhouses would be barred from using tape and instead use strap bands. Ideally meat should be sold only in the original packaging put on by the slaughterhouse; however, if repackaging is done, then the original sticker with the name of the original producer should not be reused. The name of the present packer/seller should be the primary name on the packages. 

The mashgiach would be encouraged to have a relationship with the alarm company so that the hashgacha would have access to the logs of the alarm company to see who came in and at what time the alarms are turned off during the day or night. Other new guidelines would involve training and qualification of personnel, use of GPS technology, certification of distributors, control of keys and locks, and other checks and balanced in every plant. Kashrus officials point out that most of these procedures are already being implemented.