OK Kosher Certification recognizes that this is a busy time of year, as you deal with the demands of closing 2016 on a high and driving to achieve all of your targets. 2017 is around the corner and brings another year of opportunity for growth. As your partners in kosher certification, OK Kosher Certification appreciates the deep commitment that you invest in kosher. We want to honor that partnership by continuing to help your businesses grow in 2017.
In the past 12 months, we’ve significantly simplified our processes while adhering to the same stringent level of kosher regulatory standards OK Kosher is known for. We have also expanded our staff with several high-caliber individuals across all departments. This means we are stronger and better equipped to guide our clients than ever before, moving into 2017 and beyond. Our commitment to excellence will forever be our guiding principle.
As you continue to drive growth through innovation and product launches, Kosher is a significant part of your marketing strategy. To support the success of your 2017 plans, here are a few key factors to bear in mind regarding your kosher programs:
To maximize your investment in kosher, it is important for the kosher symbol to be printed clearly on your labels – prominently displayed and large enough that consumers can easily see it.
As part of our promise to be your advocate for all kosher matters, we encourage you to give added consideration to the design and placement of the OK Kosher logo on the labels of existing certified products.
To assist in this endeavor, OK Kosher has developed an easy-to-follow guide for proper use of the symbol. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, to request copies of this guide.
We thank you for your loyalty and look forward to showing our appreciation in ways both big and small. It is our goal that you consider OK Kosher your in-house kosher experts for any and all kosher matters.
DigitalKosher has added another layer of flexibility for customers that wish to create their own custom kosher certificates online. In addition to the ability to create a certificate with all your items on it, you can also click to “Create a certificate with specific items” from the Custom Kosher Certification Letters page. After choosing which labeler you need your certificate for, you can search your product list using specific criteria (or no criteria at all) and Select All products or only specific products that come up in the search results to add to a custom kosher certificate.
The OK is always at the forefront of merging technology with kosher certification. From computerized product and ingredient data storage, to online access to thousands of kosher certificates, the OK takes pride in its high tech, user-friendly kosher database. Recently, we have taken technology a step further and put our full product list in the palm of your hand!
The OK’s complete product list (both industrial and consumer) is now available for the iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch. The OK Kosher Food Guide App (free in the iTunes store) enables you to search the extensive database of OK certified products by company name or category and have the kosher information at your fingertips, including Cholov Yisroel, Pas Yisroel & Yoshon status! The guide is automatically updated daily to give you the most up-to-date information.
Other great features include a direct link the OK website and current and past issues of Kosher Spirit magazine, as well as the link to download our popular Vegetable Checking Guide app. You can also use the app to suggest new kosher products to the OK.
We are currently in the process of developing an Android version of the app, which we hope to unveil in the coming weeks!
*The OK was recently featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. We are told that Rabbi Chaim Fogelman, Director of Marketing & Eduction and Editor-in-Chief of Kosher Spirit, is only the second orthodox rabbi to ever grace the cover of this prestigious paper.
Working 24/6 to Get the Leavened Bread Out of the Kosher Kitchen; What Isn’t OK
By Lucette Lagnado
When Rabbi Naftali Marrus does his spring cleaning, he doesn’t use a mop. He rolls with the Inferno.
The Inferno is a three-and-a-half-foot-long propane torch Rabbi Marrus uses during the critical days before Passover to scour commercial kitchens catering to observant Jews and obliterate the smallest particles of bread and other leavened foods, which are forbidden during the holiday that commemorates the Jews’ flight from Egypt.
Marching into the kitchen of My Most Favorite Food, a restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Rabbi Marrus runs his finger along stove tops, pokes his head inside the big industrial ovens, examines the coffee maker and inspects walls and floors. They have been soaked in boiling water and scrubbed clean with soap, detergents, degreasers and ammonia.
No matter. With the restaurant’s owners, Doris Schechter and her son-in-law Scott Magram looking on, Rabbi Marrus directs the flames of the Inferno up and down racks of steel rolling trays and deep inside the oven. His assistant will apply the Inferno to the pots and pans. Ms. Schechter takes the drastic cleaning in stride. “To me it is a renewal, you start over again.”
Rabbi Marrus, 6-feet-3-inches tall and built like a football player, handles the Inferno with care. “You have to be respectful to the blowtorch,” he says.
Passover, which starts Monday at sundown and lasts eight days, is the busy season for Rabbi Marrus. As a supervising rabbi for OK Kosher Certification, an agency in Brooklyn, N.Y., he and his colleagues are working 24/6—they don’t work on the Sabbath—to ensure that all restaurants, caterers, cafés, industrial kitchens and food manufacturers that want the OK Kosher for Passover label follow strict Jewish food laws.
But keeping kosher isn’t just for Passover, and it isn’t just for traditional Jewish food. OK gives its kosher blessing to items as varied as Perrier water and Tropicana orange juice.
Getting the kosher seal is a rigorous experience that requires OK’s 300-odd part-time rabbis to travel around inspecting plants where food is produced. They study every ingredient that goes into a product to make sure it conforms with religious law. Only then will they allow it to carry their trademark “K” with a circle around it.
“We like to say God is our silent partner,” remarks Rabbi Chaim Fogelman, an OK veteran.
OK Kosher started in about 1935 as a mom-and-pop shop called Organized Kashrut Laboratories. It’s now a multinational player, with rabbis in China, Japan, India, Belgium and Israel who certify nearly 500,000 products from about 3,000 companies. Its headquarters are still in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. It operates as a nonprofit. Clients pay from $2,000 to tens of thousands of dollars annually.
Kosher dietary laws date back to biblical times. Several basic laws come with hundreds, even thousands of regulations or interpretations. Eating pork and shellfish, for example, is banned, while mixing meat and milk is also taboo. There are also intricate rules on how an animal must be slaughtered to produce kosher meat.
Establishments that serve kosher food, including restaurants, cafés, catering halls and butcher shops, need to have a mashgiach on hand, an on-site supervisor, typically a rabbi, assigned to stand around and watch, guarding against treif or unkosher ingredients that could slip in.
The U.S. kosher market is valued at about $12.5 billion. “The iconic brands of America are overwhelmingly kosher,” says Menachem Lubinsky, President of Lubicom Marketing Consulting. Familiar brands such as Coca-Cola, Snapple, Philadelphia cream cheese, Coors beer and Tootsie Rolls all have products with a kosher label.
“It is astounding when you figure that Jews are less than 2% of the population,” says Sue Fishkoff, author of the book “Kosher Nation.” Many non-Jews believe a kosher product is healthier and safer, she says. “Is it? Possibly the Kosher beef is. But certainly not the cereal or the aluminum foil.”
These days, more than 1,000 agencies world-wide vie with one another to bestow on products an alphabet soup of kosher insignia. These include the ubiquitous k with a circle around it favored by OK; there’s the OU—a U inside a circle—sign used by the Orthodox Union; while the Rabbinical Council of Chicago is known for its cRc in a triangle stamp.
“There is healthy competition, but we do work for a higher cause,” says Rabbi Sholem Fishbane of Chicago’s rabbinic agency. “We try to promote kosher.”
There are occasional disagreements, and what is kosher to some rabbis may not be to others. Ms. Fishkoff, for instance, recalls how the granddaddy of kosher products—the iconic Hebrew National Kosher Hot Dog—for years wasn’t considered sufficiently kosher by some of the key certifying agencies. These days, armed with a kosher seal from Triangle K, a Brooklyn agency, the hot dog has been embraced by Conservative Jews who observe kosher dietary laws.
Some Orthodox agencies such as OK and the Chicago Rabbinical Council still reject it. “It is much better than it used to be,” says Rabbi Fishbane, but “it is not certified glatt,” he says, referring to an even higher standard of kosher meat certification.
For Hebrew National to be certified as glatt, Rabbi Fogelman says, it would have to use only glatt kosher meat. Glatt certification, he explains, involves checking a cow after slaughter to see how healthy it was—specifically if it had lesions on its lungs. If it had too many lesions, then it won’t pass muster as glatt, he says.
Hebrew National, owned by ConAgra Foods, says on its website that its certification by Triangle K comes from an orthodox Jewish agency made up of “the most stringent Jews” that provide rabbinical supervision and make sure its products and ingredients meet the “strictest criteria” for kosher. ConAgra’s spokesman says it has no plans to pursue the glatt market.
Then there’s the question of how far to push the kosher brand. Rabbi Fogelman of OK says his agency has been asked to certify paper bags as kosher; OK is working on it. OK certifies a dog treat as kosher. Exclusively Pet Inc., in Milwaukee, manufactures dog cookies that carry the little K seal.
These days Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co. near Chicago sells dog and cat food that, in a manner of speaking, is kosher. They are deemed usable during the Passover holiday, though not kosher for human consumption, and have the endorsement of the venerable Chicago Rabbinical Council. Evanger’s website touts its products by showing a photo of a dog wearing a yarmulke.
They are a godsend to Terry Socol of Skokie, Ill. His two cats, Ashley and Coco, don’t like Passover because of the limited diet. He called Evanger’s and obtained cans of whole mackerel and beef tips with gravy. But he also bought them lox—certified kosher for humans: “Passover is such a hard holiday for them.”
*Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2011.
Rabbi Eli Lando recently joined the staff of the OK as Chief Customer Relations Officer. Rabbi Lando was born and raised in Israel where he received ordination as a rabbi. Rabbi Lando is also a graduate of UBC Business Sauder school.
Rabbi Lando began his career in kosher supervision at BC Kosher in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Rabbi Lando served as director of BC Kosher for six years, where he gained much practical experience in kosher certification, meeting with kosher certified companies around the world and visiting production facilities. Throughout his career in the Kosher industry, Rabbi Lando has been an early adopter of unique customer relations approach, understanding the competitive edge it can bring to an organization.
Rabbi Lando brings a unique perspective to our organization with his in-depth knowledge of customer needs. He serves an important role in assisting our customers and driving the team to provide the highest levels of service.
Rabbi Lando and his staff looks forward to making personal contact with each OK certified company and is always available through OK headquarters to speak with you and answer any comments or questions regarding your relationship with OK Kosher Certification.
The free benefits of being associated with the OK (which are unparalleled in the industry) are geared to increase your bottom line.
OK Kosher Certification is a globally recognized brand and registered trademark, relied on by millions of consumers around the world. In our commitment to meeting our client’s needs, we have invested a significant portion of our resources into implementing extremely advanced systems to manage our processes and operations. Moreover, as we encourage our clients to enjoy a completely seamless digital experience when it comes to Kosher, we are proud to say that we have also provided them with many tools that make this possible. The direct benefits to our clients can be realized in a number of specific areas:
Part 1 – Paperless distribution of certificates to you clients.
• You can distribute your K-ID’s directly from the product list page on DigitalKosher to your clients.
• Create your own Custom Kosher certification letters.
• Your customers will receive e-mail notification of updated certificates on an annual basis.
• This will translate into valuable time saved. Personnel will not have to A) track all the companies you sent certificates to and B) resend them- we will handle both these items.
• Customers can automatically be notified of changes of any kind to your certificates without you having to resend them. (provided the certificates were e-mailed to the customer out of DigitalKosher.
• You will not have to keep track of everyone you sent a certificate to. Therefore customer service personnel and Sales representatives will save many invaluable hours.
• Ask your Account Representative for more information about our services.