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Over the past few months, the OK office has been quite busy merging with Los Angeles-based Heart K/Kehilla Kosher. This is no small task considering the advanced kosher supervision system created and utilized by the OK to manage and monitor certified companies.

Long gone are the days of a one-man certification with all the information in the rabbi’s head… Today, the OK certifies thousands of manufacturing facilities and close to 600,000 products from all corners of the world. The only way to do this properly is by clearly documenting everything in an extremely orderly fashion. Generally, most people are not aware of what it takes to certify a packaged product as kosher. At the OK, many people are involved in every single certified product, starting with the New Accounts personnel who document how and where the product is made and collect all the kosher letters for each and every ingredient used in the product and the facility. All this information is processed by our central Data Entry department and every detail is entered in to a secure, protected, custom computer system.

Next, a Rabbinic Coordinator is assigned to the facility and a different rabbi, who specializes in ingredients, will review all of the ingredients. If they are all approved (which is not a simple task) the Travel Department arranges the initial visit to the facility and coordinates all the arrangements with the rabbi’s assistant. After the initial inspection is made the Rabbinic Coordinator documents all of his findings and recommendations.

The mashgiach liaison arranges for a suitable field mashgiach (usually in the geographical vicinity of the plant, or perhaps a mashgiach who might be passing through the area en route to a different facility) who can visit the facility on a regular basis, or for the special kosher production runs, and connects the Rabbinic Coordinator with the mashgiach to review special instructions and visit frequency.

The legal department executes all documents and contracts between the certified company and the OK, as well as the fees charged for certification. At this time all product labels are submitted for approval and the entire file is sent to the OK Kashrus Administrator, Rabbi Levy, for a final review.

Rabbi Levy personally reads every initial report and all correspondence, and certification only proceeds with his approval. Both parties sign a one year contract, the field mashgiach commences visits, the new company is mentioned on the OK website and Kosher Spirit, and an Account Representative is assigned to oversee all correspondence.

Next time, I will discuss how we certify food service establishments and make sure everything is kosher without compromise…And you thought cleaning for Pesach was complicated!

Wishing you all a kosher and happy Pesach,

Rabbi Chaim Fogelman