March 8, 2010

Mashgichim (Kosher Supervisors) Get New Respect from Kashrus Authorities

Dallas…An impressive gathering last month of kashrus committees from all over the US and Canada as well as Mexico was the setting for an important discussion on the status of thousands of mashgichim (kosher supervisors). Sponsored by the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO), the conference heard Rabbi Nissin Davidi of the RCC in Los Angeles urge the attendees to officially adopt minimum standards for accepting a mashgiach into any of the AKO members Vaadim. The agreed upon items ranged from assuring the correct legal status of mashgichim to their proper dress code. After much debate the minimum standards were approved. The important role of the mashgiach in a kashrus organization was underscored by Mr. Bill Finkelstein, one of the founders of Dallas Kosher, who now serves as their attorney. Mr. Finkelstein pointed to the different ways a kashrus certification agency can be liable for a mashgiach’s mistakes. Mr. David Scharf, formerly of Scharf and Ram Caterers, shared some of the “tricks” that caterers and restaurant owners play on mashgichim. Even the most experienced rabbis in the group were amazed at Mr. Scharf’s words as well as his recipe for a successful relationship with the most seasoned owners. There was a recognition that the mashgiach is an important component of elevating the standards of kashrus. Rabbi Reuven Stein of the Vaad of Atlanta proposed “the Mashgiach’s Bill of Rights”. This was a result of a year’s work for Rabbi Stein. The AKO members unanimously voted to introduce these conditions into their contracts. The articles in the document include proper working conditions for a Mashgiach, as well as what jobs a mashgiach may or may not be allowed to perform on the job. It also addresses the proper method for a mashgiach to address any grievances.