OK Kosher Meets with ConAgra CEO

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Late in August, Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, CEO of OK Kosher Supervision (also known as “Circle K Kosher”) presented ConAgra Foods CEO Gary Rodkin with a plaque recognizing more than four decades of collaboration between the two firms. But it isn’t just the relationship between the two businesses that has gained meaning over the years. Increasingly, consumers are looking to kosher certification as a symbol of safety and quality.

“We certify thousands of companies,” Levy said, “but ConAgra Foods is unique. It’s a company that never takes shortcuts, and, for that and much more, we want to recognize its outstanding dedication to providing superior kosher foods.” Accepting the plaque, Rodkin observed that consumer insights show that consumers increasingly associate kosher foods with a high level of quality. “It’s become a way to make people feel better about the food they eat and, in our case, the food they love. We’re very proud of our many kosher-certified brands and are deeply committed to preserving their safety and purity.”

OK Kosher also recognized Research, Quality & Innovation’s Food Labeling team for the work it does to help ensure that kosher standards and practices are communicated throughout RQI and the supply chain.

Kosher’s cachet


According to the late author Leo Rosten, “kosher” well may be the most widely used Hebrew word in the English language, strange as that sounds. It’s a word that’s generally used with a great deal of affection, and for good reason. Food that is “kosher” is ritually clean according to the strict dietary laws of Judaism. And, at a time when consumer concerns about food safety are making headlines, kosher’s cachet is probably greater than ever. So the good vibes emanating from kosher foods extend far beyond traditional Jewish communities and have the potential to influence the purchasing decisions of a much wider range of consumers.


What’s kosher at ConAgra Foods


OK Kosher is one of the major global Rabbinical Authorities engaged in kosher certification for food and beverage makers. Its relationship with ConAgra Foods began with a simple, one-page contract and a handshake between Rabbi Berel Levy (Don Yoel’s father) and Hunt-Wesson exec Bill Kittredge in the late 1960s. One of the keys to the partnership has been the organizations’ shared commitment to quality and forward-thinking technology. DigitalKosher, utilized by OK Kosher for tracking the provenance of kosher ingredients and products, provides users with critical information relating to formulas, manufacturing facilities and the kosher effective dates of every ingredient. Currently, OK Kosher provides kosher certification services for:


  • Tomato products manufactured at plants in Oakdale and Helm, Calif., and in Newport, Tenn.
  • Edible oils processed in Memphis, Tenn.
  • Popcorn and snacks products made in Hamburg and Lakeview, Iowa, Morral, Ohio, Brookston and Rensselaer, Ind., and Lincoln, Neb.
  • Non-meat dishes created in Turners Falls, Mass.
  • Peanut butter manufactured in Sylvester, Ga.
  • Puddings made in Waterloo, Iowa, and pudding, gels and certain varieties of cocoa made in Menomonie, Wis.
  • Ice cream toppings and some tomato products processed in Humboldt, Tenn.
  • Asian vegetables manufactured in Archbold, Ohio
  • Seeds processed in Fresno, Calif., and St. Louis
  • Sauces created in Laval, Quebec
  • Snack bars made in Lakeville, Minn., and Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Some Lamb Weston product lines
  • A number of co-packers performing contract work for ConAgra Foods

In addition to celebrating the recognition ConAgra Foods received, RQI team members met with OK Kosher representatives to discuss possible future collaboration on educational, marketing and brand development strategies.

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