Looking Ahead in 2020

posted by January 2020

2019 was another successful year at OK Kosher, with close to 200 newly certified companies, hundreds of Private Labels and added manufacturing sites for existing clients, all now part of the OK family. As we began 2020, plant-based eating and CBD products continued to lead the market trends into the New Year and we received dozens of applications for new companies producing these products, as well as in nearly every other category in the food and beverage industry.

In keeping with our focus on educating customers and other food and beverage manufacturers, we’ve uploaded our guide to Understanding the Role of the Kosher Contact Person. Keeping these guidelines will help you choose personnel and ensure continued compliance with your kosher program.

If you, or a representative of your company, will be at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, we would love to see you – we’re located in the Business Service Row, on the second floor.  We look forward to connecting!

Of course, if there is anything we can do to further educate and support your company, please respond to this edition of QuicKosher, and we will be happy reach back out to you.

Here are a few key factors to bear in mind regarding your OK Kosher programs…

posted by December 2019

Dear OK Kosher Client,

As your partners in kosher certification, OK Kosher appreciates the deep commitment that you have invested in thus far, and we want to honor that by continuing to help you grow.

Here are a few key factors to bear in mind regarding your Kosher programs:

Speed to Market

  • Our objective is to help you put things in motion. Whether it’s introducing an additional product, Private Label customer, facility, co-packer or toll manufacturer, our support team has the experience and manpower to achieve your deadlines professionally and quickly. If you are not yet familiar with how to request any of the above, please reach out to your contact at OK Kosher, who will be happy to provide further information.

Added Advantages

  • Typically, there is no added fee to certify additional products within an OK Kosher certified facility, if the new product does not increase the number of visits required at the production facility or substantially increase the work volume. In cases where the new approval will cause additional fees, your OK Kosher Account Representative will always provide you with transparent information.

Your Advocate for all things Kosher

  • 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. Visit our Guide for Using the OK Kosher Symbol.

We thank you for your loyalty. It is our goal that you consider OK Kosher your in-house kosher experts for any and all kosher matters.

Private Label Applications Now Automated

posted by September 2018

Dear OK Kosher Client,

At OK Kosher, we make every effort to provide thousands of food and beverage companies all over the world who engage OK Kosher in certifying their manufactured products with access to a wide range of quality services for their kosher certification needs.  To that end, we have recently automated the Private Label application process.  (Private Label products are those that are produced by an OK certified manufacturer but are labeled with another company’s brand name.)

Manufacturing companies under OK Kosher’s supervision can now offer this benefit to their Private Label customers.  The process begins with an online application form, to be filled out by the manufacturer, which gives us all the information needed to draw up an agreement for the Private Label customer.  This agreement is necessary to protect both the certified manufacturer and OK Kosher. There is a nominal, annual administrative fee per Private Label customer (fees are not charged per product), which will grant each Private Label company rights to market and sell any certified products with the OK Kosher symbol.

We are also excited to share that we have formed arrangements with key retailers, in order to make it easier and faster to add new manufacturer relationships to their existing Private Label agreements with OK Kosher. This is yet another way in which we strive to make our service more accessible to our customers.

For more information regarding private labels or to obtain an agreement, please contact your Account Representative or the Private Label Liaison at 718-907-9589 or apply@ok.org.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish those who celebrate the Jewish New Year, and all of our customers, a Shana Tova – a year full for blessings and success.

Sincerely,
Rabbi Eli Lando,
Executive Manager & Chief Customer Relations

QuicKosher January 2018

posted by January 2018

Dear OK Kosher Client,

We hope you are having a great start to 2018!

For OK Kosher, 2017 has been another year of continued improvement and growth in all areas.  We are happy to share with you that we have hired additional rabbinic and support staff as part of our commitment to maintain a leading role in the kosher industry.  We are also very, deeply saddened by the passing of our long-time senior Rabbinic Coordinator, Rabbi Dovid Steigman, OBM, who passed away in March 2017.  Many of you were blessed to have known and worked with him.  His kind and caring personality, sharp wit and positive energy will be sorely missed.

This year’s OK Kosher Annual International Conference held in November brought Rabbinic Coordinators and Field Representatives from across the globe together for a full-day symposium. The program featured updates from management on recent developments and overall direction.  In addition, high level presentations on kosher law were given by several of OK Kosher’s staff members. One of the highlights of the gathering was the presentation of the 2017 “OK Kosher Featured Company Award,” presented to Kerry Group, a leading producer with many decades of adherence to kosher production under OK Kosher supervision. Kerry Group was chosen for this award in acknowledgement of their genuine dedication to maintaining OK Kosher’s highest regulatory standards required by kosher dietary law. We are proud to acknowledge the entire team at Kerry by selecting them for the “OK Kosher Featured Company Award” this year.

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While focusing on our strategic growth, we have put processes in place to ensure that OK Kosher’s standards are uniform worldwide. In general, all standards and policy decisions are established by senior rabbinic staff in our New York head office.  Frequent visits are conducted by senior rabbinic staff to our certified facilities around the world to ensure the highest standards.  This past year, our president, Rabbi Levy, and I have made trips to our Israel office several times (one lasting over 30 days!), working with our staff there to further OK Kosher’s world-renowned standards and service in the areas of the world which they oversee.  Our Israel branch is currently responsible for our continuously-growing efforts in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, China, India, and South Korea.

I have also made a visit to our West Coast office in Los Angeles recently.  We are happy to report that our merger with Kehilla Kosher of the West Coast two years ago has successfully panned out.  We are now certifying hundreds of industrial manufacturers as well as close to one hundred foodservice establishments on the West Coast.  Feedback from our customers has proven that our programs and our personnel are making a big difference in this geographical region.

We invite you to visit our list of globally-based regional offices.  Whether it is an additional facility you would like to certify, or a supplier of yours which needs help becoming certified, our staff is always available to discuss your needs and advise you based on their expertise, almost always in the native language of the region at hand.  Our goal is to help you bring as many products as possible to the market which are “kosher without compromise.”  Please stay tuned as we will be making our Private Label process more automated and streamlined to help you and your customers service your markets.

If there is anything our staff can help with, please feel free to reach out to them, or to me directly.

With continued blessings for a healthy and productive 2018!

Sincerely,
Rabbi Eli Lando,
Executive Manager & Chief Customer Relations

2016 In Review – Looking Ahead to 2017 and Beyond

posted by December 2016

Dear OK Kosher Client,

 

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 service@ok.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.

With best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2017.

Sincerely,

Rabbi Eli Lando,

Executive Manager & Chief Customer Relations Officer

 

Can the FDA’s label changes be an opportunity for your brand?

posted by September 2016

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Dear OK Kosher Customer,

As you may know, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has taken a major step by requiring updated nutritional information for most packaged foods sold in the United States. This new regulation means that most food manufacturers will have to be using new product labels by July 26, 2018. (Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply with the new rules.)

As part of our promise to be your advocate for all kosher matters, we encourage you to use this opportunity to re-emphasize the importance of the design and placement of the OK kosher logo on your product labels. 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. To assist in this endeavor, OK Kosher has developed an easy to follow guide to proper use of the symbol. Please contact your Account Representative, or email service@ok.org, to request copies of the guide.

Remember, the consumer is looking for that OK kosher symbol – make it jump out at them!

Thank you for your loyalty to OK Kosher. Achieving the highest kosher standards, with total customer satisfaction, is our goal! We are here to support your growth!

Rabbi Eli Lando,
Executive Manager & Chief Customer Relations Officer

Practices to Help Ensure Continued Kosher Compliance

posted by September 2015

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

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.