SHARON, MA — Since its founding in 1996, Kashrut.com has been providing timely information to the kosher consumer and manufacturer. This information includes alerts about kosher products that are mislabeled, food safety and allergy recalls and changes in the kosher status of food products. Recently, they posted their 4,000th alert, a huge milestone for a service that began out of necessity and has now become indispensable to the kosher consumer.
Arlene Mathes-Scharf, its founder and president, holds an MS degree in Food Science from MIT, so she was used to people asking her food and kashrus questions. When her friend remarked on how she had seen a pepperoni pizza with an OU for sale at Stop and Shop, she quickly contacted the OU, who placed an alert in a local Jewish paper. Realizing a gaping hole in the alert system, Arlene founded Kashrut.com to post alerts in real time and educate people in kashrus.
The site features kashrus articles written by experts, helpful information on kosher traveling, a thorough Passover index, and a unique zmanim calculator. The site attracts around 45,000 unique visitors every month, with 7,000 email subscribers. Alerts are gathered from kashrus agencies, newspapers, reader’s tips, and other online sources. News about the status of kashrus is spread through emails (both consumer and commercial), Facebook, and Twitter.
“It is interesting to note how kashrus has evolved and how the Internet and social media have changed how questions are asked and answered,” remarked Arlene. “A number of years ago, I posted an alert about tomato paste with an unauthorized Passover hechsher. The next day, I got an e-mail from Australia from a reader saying she had used this tomato paste and needed to know what to do with her Passover keilim (kitchenware). The company producing the paste had no idea it was even sold in Australia! In the end, the certifying agency advised my reader on her keilim.”