November 4, 2013

Major AKO Kashrus Conference Delves into Modern Challenges of Technology and change

NEW YORK — The annual conference of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO), which traditionally takes place the day after Kosherfest, gathered more than 130 representatives of kashrus agencies from around the world. After an opening statement by Rabbi Menachem Genack, the CEO of the OU, which hosted the conference, the assemblage turned to some of the new challenges facing kashrus officials. Rabbi Moshe D. Gutnick, the Rabbinic Administrator of the Kashrut Authority of Australia and New Zealand offered tips on enhancing kashrus supervision through technology such as using Facetime and Skype over and above the physical visitations mashgichim make to plants. Rabbi Daniel Epstein of the OU spoke about the challenges of granting certification China, due to the vast cultural differences. He also warned that while the industry has accepted various ingredients as innocuous from the United States and other parts of the world, this does not apply to China where almost every ingredient requires hashgacha.

Rabbi Sholem Y. Fishbane, Kashrus Administrator of the cRc and Executive Director of AKO addressed the need to monitor kosher meat to avoid some of the recent scandals that have plagued the kosher industry. Rabbi Fishbane distributed a 13-point AKO Monitoring Meat Agreement which AKO members had been working on for the past several months. These thirteen points will now be adopted by all AKO members into their hashgachos. Rabbi Daniel Senter, Rabbinic Administrator of the Kof K presented an AKO Forensic Hashgachah Initiative that he proposes to be a very strong improvement in this ongoing challenge of developing a fool proof monitoring of kosher meat. Rabbi Dr. Avrohom Pollak, President of the Star K, introduced Mr. Ari Lauber, President of KosherRegister.com who has been working with McCoy Security Solutions to create a very detailed electronic label that would have the capability, when scanned by a smart phone, to pull information from Cloud to verify the exact product information on that given product. While still in the testing stages it will be the first time that a consumer will be able to scan the bar code on a product and identify and verify the kashrus status of the product as well as alert the hashgachos of any wrongdoing.

Rabbi Fishbane, discussed issues surrounding K Cups and Keurig Machines which may very well require all Keurig cups to have certification. It was also revealed that that they are starting to manufacture Keurig cups for non-kosher chicken soup which could require one to be diligent and not use public machines.