September 8, 2015

Kosher Certification Expands into Many Different Directions

New York - Where once kashrus certification was reserved for food ingested by humans, the major agencies have long departed from exclusively applying their symbol to food and today certify other consumer goods as well. In recent years, there has been a growing movement towards certifying pharmaceuticals, vitamins and nutrients in what kashrus officials say is only natural since they too are consumed by humans. “Once it became possible to avoid such products as animal fats and gelatin from many drugs, why would not a kosher consumer opt to ingest only something that is kosher,” said one kashrus official. The issue for kashrus officials is that many goods are produced with non-kosher ingredients or are produced on machines that are maintained with non-kosher ingredients such as cleaning agents and people who keep a kosher home simply want to have anything that is not kosher removed from their homes. That may explain why the Orthodox Union now certifies Pokarna Engineered Stone Limited for its Quartz Surfaces brand Quantra. It is also certified for use on Passover without special certification as it contains no raw materials that would affect food prepared on it during Passover. The Star-K, for example has long certified appliances for use on the Shabbos. Kashrus agencies say that they no longer view their roles as exclusively relegated to food but also to enhance “living as a kosher Jew,” meaning that everything in a home, particularly in the kitchen where food is prepared, should be kosher. The Kof-K, based in Teaneck NJ, even sponsors a project to promote marriages between younger boys and older girls as a way of solving the shortage of Orthodox males for the women.

Admittedly many companies seek out kosher certification as a way to market their goods to the large kosher market. Marketers have long argued that kosher certification is a great marketing tool. But kashrus agencies say that they would not offer certification for marketing purposes alone. “It really has to make sense in terms of the kosher consumer and that is our litmus test,” said one rabbi.