November 2, 2009

Kashrus Agencies Tackle Loose Ends in Kashrus Enforcement

New York…More than 80 representatives of kashrus organizations from around the world heard calls for further tightening procedures to avoid abuses of kashrus certification. The occasion was the annual conference of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) which traditionally takes place the day after Kosherfest. This year’s conference which took place at the Downtown Manhattan headquarters of the Orthodox Union also featured addresses by Israel’s two chief rabbis, Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Yonah Metzger. Almost from the outset with the introduction by Rabbi Avrom Pollak of the Star-K, the theme of the conference seemed to be to further improve certification procedures. Rabbi Binyomin Sanders of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington discussed the recent incident in the Washington JCC where the Mashgiach caught an employee bringing in treifa meat. Rabbi Pinchos Juravel of the Chof-K, who also acts as the Chairman of AKO Ingredient Committee, spoke about the potential kashrus problems with retail honey. He also reported a new finding in smaller beer companies that are sending out their barley to be smoked in local smokehouses that can also be smoking non-kosher. Other presentations were made by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann of the Star-K, Rabbi Nuchem Efraim Teitelbaum, the Volover Rov, Rabbi Seth Mandel of the OU and the Rabbinic Coordinator for the OU meat companies, Rabbi Ahron Koshitzky, and Rabbi Mordechai Fried who gave a brief update on the status of the seven AKO sub-committees formulated at the recent AKO Vaadim Convention. Rabbi Teitelbaum also delivered a moving eulogy to the mashgichim murdered in the Mumbai terrorist attack on a Chabad center. There was also much discussion about the growing interest by Chinese companies in obtaining kosher certification and the numerous incidents of fraud when companies claimed that they had kosher certification when they did not. Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, the executive director of AKO announced that the next AKO Vaadim will be held in Dallas on February 15-16.