Practices to Help Ensure Continued Kosher Compliance

posted by September 2015

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Customers often ask us who within their company should be assigned to oversee and manage their kosher program, and what it takes to do so. As a kosher certified company, you are aware of the various kosher regulations that apply to your company, however, what is the best way to ensure that your company remains in compliance?

 

Simply put – there are no shortcuts. But the good news is that OK Kosher’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of kosher law is matched by our commitment to the highest levels of service to our certified customers. These commitments are evident at every stage of our relationship with our customers. We are happy to guide you through the process of incorporating compliance measures into your day-to-day procedures.

 

The first and most important step to success is to designate at least one person (typically from the Quality Assurance or Regulatory Affairs department) to be your “Kosher Contact”. He/she will be actively in charge of the kosher duties and act as the in-house kosher expert for your company. He/she will communicate directly with your Rabbinic Coordinator (RC) and Customer Service Account Representative for all your service needs – such as new ingredient, product and label approvals, billing issues, private label requests and ensuring that OK Kosher is fully aligned to your objectives.  The Kosher Contact will also accompany your locally based field representative during periodic unannounced inspections at your facility.

 

Companies with multiple plants generally appoint a full time corporate liaison to oversee kosher for all their facilities.

 

Essential Functions

  • The Kosher Contact serves as a resource to both your company and OK Kosher on issues relating to certification. He/she studies and implements the specific terms and conditions detailed in your certification agreement, and corresponds with OK Kosher.
  • The Kosher Contact will submit (or oversee submissions) or all new ingredients, suppliers and products to be certified.
  • The Kosher Contact will verify that your certified products (retail and industrial) carry the appropriate OK kosher symbol
  • Marketers have long argued that kosher certification is a great marketing tool. The Kosher Contact will also look out for new opportunities and present to marketing.

 

In order to achieve and maintain excellence in the kosher department clear systems must be established in every department that will enable effective processes and avoid errors, thus preventing costly mistakes and misunderstandings which could potentially lead to product recalls. To help achieve that aim, the Kosher Contact and any other relevant plant personnel should familiarize themselves with our Plant Manual. A link to the manual can be found in the Miscellaneous column of your Digital Kosher homepage. (“Kosher Certifying Agency Manual”). The Plant Manual provides an excellent overview of what kosher is all about, as well as the requirements and procedures necessary to maintain kosher in your factory. If you would like to receive a hard copy of this manual, please let us know.

 

Whether your company is large or small, we are always available to help you (free of charge) to develop strategies for achieving maximum success. Please email service@ok.org so we can direct you to an appropriate person.

Making the Most of Your Annual Visit

posted by May 2015

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As part of OK Kosher’s efforts to assure the highest quality standards and achieve the maximum level of service, our leadership team has developed a set of principles and framework to achieve quality assurance. A primary goal and guiding principle of the quality assurance system is to strengthen our certified companies and ultimately support their efforts to provide high standard kosher products to consumers.  In order to achieve this, in addition to ongoing mid-year visits by your local OK rabbi, each certified company is required to participate in an annual assessment process (the “Annual Visit”), conducted by an OK executive rabbi.

 

The annual visit is a distinguishing feature of OK Kosher’s level of quality and service. All of our customers, from huge corporations to small businesses, receive the same personalized attention from their dedicated senior headquarters rabbi – the Rabbinic Coordinator.  The executive visit enables you and your RC to meet in person each year, and together review the unique mechanisms of your facility. As a result, the RC will be able to tailor the necessary kosher instructions for both you and your local OK rabbi, and he’ll have the information and background he needs to assist you in a thorough, comprehensive and timely fashion when you contact him during the year to discuss new projects that might need his feedback. In addition, the annual visit is an opportunity to discuss how it might be possible to certify other products that are not currently included in your kosher program. If utilized effectively, the annual visit can serve to upgrade your involvement in the kosher program. As a matter of fact, many customers tell us these visits have helped their regulatory staff, and company personnel as a whole, to better appreciate and be part of the kosher program.

 

We encourage you to take advantage of this visit to openly discuss your questions, concerns, forecasted new projects, etc. This may also be an opportune time to set up a seminar for your employees so they can meet the rabbi and ask any questions they may have regarding general kosher knowledge and your kosher program in particular. The rabbi will be happy to conduct this type of session. Please let the rabbi know prior to the confirmation of his visit that you wish to set up a seminar, so that he can schedule his itinerary accordingly.

 

At OK Kosher we remain committed to our mission: to certify, educate, advocate, and promote kosher.

Tips and Insights for Smarter Kosher Decisions

posted by March 2015

The eight-day festival of Passover is fast approaching. This year Passover is April 3-11. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.

For more info on Passover and its implications for kosher standards, please refer to the “OK Kosher Plant Manual” page 84. The Manual is available on your Digital Kosher homepage, or contact your Account Rep if you would like to receive a hard copy.

 

Also, please note our upcoming Passover holiday closing schedule!

We encourage customers to notify us of any urgent requests as much in advance as possible, so we can make sure to service your request promptly.

 

In particular, it’s helpful to let us know about:

  • New ingredient / product submissions that are urgently due.
  • Productions that will require the scheduling of your local rabbinic representative during the holiday season.
  • ISOtank and bulk shipment requests that are urgently due.

 

We always appreciate your support and understanding. We focus on providing you with the finest service.

OK Kosher Releases Innovative Updated Plant Manual

posted by July 2014

july 14 quickosher

The OK has revised its comprehensive “how to” manual for kosher certified facilities.

 

OK Kosher believes that communication is essential to the effective development of a kosher program. To this end, the purpose of this manual is to direct you, step by step, through a successful kosher protocol.

Whether you would like to introduce a new ingredient, launch a new product, or understand the interaction between the rabbi and your staff, or anything else, you will find clear instructions in this guide.

Another purpose of this manual is to familiarize (newly) appointed personnel with kosher information and requirements pertaining to your facility. This concise, user-friendly format will serve as a guideline to those not yet familiar with kosher.

The manual covers the basic rules of a kosher facility, including ingredients & raw materials, kosher certificates, the OK “Group” system, equipment & productions, toll manufacturing, finished products, labels, rabbi visits, Passover, and more. Each section of the manual explores these topics in depth and is an indispensable resource for all employees involved in production of kosher products.

The plant manual also includes a comprehensive tutorial of the digital services the OK provides to its customers – be sure to ask your account representative to help you explore how you can take advantage of them.

The most important takeaway from the OK Kosher Manufacturing Facility manual remains that when in doubt, ask. When you think you know the answer and don’t want to bother the rabbi, ask anyway.

To obtain copies of the revised manual, please contact your Account Representative or email info@ok.org (SUBJECT: Plant Manual) and your request will be forwarded to your Account Representative.

 

We’ve made these changes after talking to customers like you. Thank you for your support. We do not take your loyalty for granted and are working hard on your behalf.


– The OK Kosher Team

OK Kosher Selected for Best of Brooklyn 2014 Award

posted by April 2014

Best of Brooklyn Trophy Large

Brooklyn Award Program Honors the Achievement

 

BROOKLYN April 23, 2014

OK Kosher Certification has been selected for the 2014 Best of Brooklyn Award in the Kosher Food Products category by the Brooklyn Award Program.

 

Each year, the Brooklyn Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Brooklyn area a great place to live, work and play.

 

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2014 Brooklyn Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Brooklyn Award Program and data provided by third parties.

 

About Brooklyn Award Program

The Brooklyn Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Brooklyn area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

 

The Brooklyn Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

 

SOURCE: Brooklyn Award Program

Fermented Red – A Game Changer?

posted by February 2014

Red paprika powder

Courtesy of Chr. Hansen

 

Ed. Note: Carmine, a popular red colorant, is not kosher due to the prohibition of insect derived foods. A synthetic version is a major contribution to kosher food production.

 

The ability to produce natural colors based on fermentation could radically change the market place and constitute a ticket to a brave new world

Red is the most used color in the food industry, and carmine is a very important natural red color. It is used in a large number of products due to its excellent coloring properties.

Building on core competences
A project has been running over the past few years aiming at developing a new production method for carmine as an alternative to the production method in use today.

The project, which has been granted funds from the Danish High Technology Foundation, builds on Chr. Hansen’s unique technological platform. In the fermented carmine project we are leveraging our core competences within fermentation in the color business with exciting potential:

“The idea is to find the gene that produces the pigment and put it into a production organism – possibly yeast – so we can produce carminic acid by fermentation, or in a “cell factory”, instead of extracting it from the insect,” explains Mads Bennedsen, Senior Research Scientist.

18,000 genes “To map all the DNA, the so-called genome, of a cochineal is a huge task.

However small the insect is (1/8″) it has 18,000 genes, and we reckon that 5-10 of those are responsible for the production of carminic acid.

Thanks to our expertise in gene sequencing we have now narrowed the candidates down to approximately 50 genes,” he elaborates.

“We are applying several different scientific strategies. So if the approach of trying to copy the lice’s biosynthesis pathway to making color fails, you could say, in a manner of speaking, that we have plans B, C, D and E in place to fulfil the task.”

Explosion – paradigm shift – technological revolution … Once commercially available on an estimated 5-10 year horizon, fermentation produced carmine represents a great technological leap and it will provide a major competitive advantage in the market place.

“If successful as we hope, this project is a game changer. We will have a more scalable production and we will be able to protect the business with solid patents. Once the technology is in place for carmine, we could potentially expand it to other natural colors as well, and that could make it a biotechnological revolution. And I am having a ball being part of it!” concludes Mads Bennedsen.

 

Welcome to the New QuicKosher!

posted by January 2014

welcome

2013 was a year of continued growth at the OK, with hundreds of newly certified customers and ongoing service to our current customer base. This year we are revamping QuicKosher – the premiere kosher food industry newsletter. The new year will see a new design and an improved format with one article appearing at a time and more frequent emails, rather than quarterly, longer newsletters. The new QuicKosher will truly be a quick and informative read, featuring a concise article about new and relevant updates within the OK, complemented by innovations by OK certified companies that benefit the kosher market on a large scale.

 

We encourage you to interact with the newsletter and let us know what kosher topics you would like to see in upcoming issues. If your company is changing the face of kosher food production, please share your accomplishments with us (news@ok.org) so we can publicize and share them with our certified companies!

 

Remember, the OK is here to provide you with the highest level of customer service and help you provide your consumers with products that are Kosher Without Compromise. Your Rabbinic Coordinator and Account Representative are available by phone or email to answer any questions, provide walk-throughs of our unique software, and help you maximize the return on your investment in kosher certification.

The Advantages of Letting Consumers Know Your Product is Kosher

posted by November 2013

ImageThe economy is tight, expenses are always growing, and now, more than ever, every dollar counts. Every company has a budget – ingredients, packaging, staff, advertising, certifications – and each category is assigned a dollar amount, for many companies an amount that is hard to stick with. Make the most of your kosher certification AND your advertising budget at the same time by clearly advertising your product as kosher certified, using the word “KOSHER” and/or the OK Kosher symbol in your ads.

 

When a kosher consumer sees an advertisement for a product, the first thing he/she looks for is an indication that the product is kosher. Without a kosher symbol, the kosher consumer quickly moves on without stopping to learn about the product. To the kosher consumer, the kosher status comes before the ingredients, before the nutrition panel, and even before the price of the item.

 

In addition to the approximately 1.3 million Jewish Americans who exclusively purchase kosher products, 21% (about 12.25 million) of Americans occasionally or regularly buy kosher products specifically because they bear a kosher symbol.

 

You chose kosher certification because you know it is important to your target markets. Let consumers know, loud and clear, that your product meets the highest standard of kosher certification with a prominent OK symbol on your next advertisement.

 

Sources:

Mintel Report (March 2003, May 2005, January 2009)

LUBICOM Kosher Analysis (October 2009)

Adding a New Ingredient to Your List of Approved Ingredients

posted by September 2013

New ingredients are added to your list of approved ingredients by submitting a New Ingredient Application. There are two ways to submit the application – by faxing or emailing the application and kosher letter to the OK office, or by the preferred method of submitting digitally through DigitalKosher (ensuring better tracking and real-time updates). Once the application is submitted, along with a valid kosher certificate for the ingredient, an OK rabbi will review the application. If the application is approved, the Data Entry department will enter the ingredient in our database which adds the ingredient to your list of approved ingredients.