Resources to Support Your Kosher Program During COVID-19 and Beyond

posted by August 2020

Coronavirus COVID-19 Masks

The Coronavirus pandemic certainly has had a full spectrum of effects on many people.  We sincerely hope that you’re all faring well.  Knowing how crucial kosher certification is to manufacturers and consumers alike, we’re making efforts to adapt to the present.

We’re thankful that, as a global organization, we have strong relationships with health experts and local authorities worldwide. Our leaders are in constant contact with them to make sure our safety policies and procedures meet or exceed the local guidelines.  In line with this, here’s a look at what we’ve worked on in the past few months:

  • Pioneering of Global COVID-19 Kosher Protocol: We devised a comprehensive and safe system for continuing to uphold kosher supervision for all clients, as well as a method to establish kosher programs for new clients without compromising on our standards.  This is all with full adherence to social distancing and up-to-the-minute hygiene guidelines.
  • Expanded Customer Support: We continue to accommodate clients who are expanding into new production sites, increasing production volumes, and in need of re-sourcing of hard-to-find raw materials.   If your company needs help in this way, be sure to submit an additional facility form, contact your account rep or reach out via service@ok.org.
  • Added Resources on OK.org: We encourage companies in the consideration stages of obtaining kosher certification, as well as current clients, to have a look at some new features on our website:
    • Our NEW white paper, Reassuring Safety with Kosher in the COVID-19 Era, has been published as a guide for utilizing kosher certification to your company’s advantage in today’s pandemic market.
    • Our Kosher 101 Slideshow Presentations have been updated and specialized into subjects. They’re available to either download or use straight from our website.  They can be a valuable tool in educating yourselves or your teams.

If you haven’t yet, we encourage you to read about the life of Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, of blessed memory.  You may also have a look at the documentary film about OK Kosher, which we filmed with the late President and Kashrus Administrator of OK Kosher before his passing.

In continuation of Rabbi Levy’s legacy, OK Kosher is working as efficiently and successfully as ever, and helping our clients to get through this challenging time.  As before and always, we’re here for you to service your kosher needs.  We’d love to hear how you and your company are doing, and how we can support you and your kosher program.  Don’t hesitate to reach out via your Account Rep, Rabbinic Coordinator, or service@ok.org.

 

Looking forward to better times ahead, for all.

 

Be well,

OK Kosher

 

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Kosher Product Trends for 2020

posted by January 2020

CBD is Leading in Kosher Product Trends for 2020

As another successful year at OK Kosher comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the close to 200 newly certified companies, hundreds of Private Labels and added manufacturing sites for existing clients now part of the OK Kosher family!  And as we began 2020, we noticed some kosher product trends leading the market into the New Year that we’d like to share with you.

  • Hemp & CBD supplements and edibles such as tinctures, teas and gummies, as well as non-food items from creams to facial serums, saw a boom in popularity in the kosher sphere.  All good reasons to kick back and relax.
  • Alongside Beyond’s Meat’s new OK Kosher program came a surge in demand for other plant-based foods dominating the kosher alternative protein space. A win for the environment and for your table.
  • The coconut craze also hasn’t ended yet!  Kosher certifications for dozens of coconut-based products continued to grow, as did our visits to the Philippines, where the majority of coconut raw materials are produced.  Vegans and other Pareve-seeking buyers can rejoice in the health benefits and versatility of these items added to the kosher coconut roster.

Looking to explore new kosher product trends and tips?  Come meet us at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco – we’d love to connect with you!  We’ll be located in the Business Service Row, on the second floor.

In keeping with our focus on educating customers and other food/beverage manufacturers, we’ve published Understanding the Role of the Kosher Contact Person. Be sure to have a look and share it accordingly with your QA and regulatory teams.  Sticking to these guidelines will help you choose and educate personnel who can ensure continued compliance with your kosher program.

As always, if there’s anything we can do to further educate and support your company, simply respond to this edition of QuicKosher, and we’ll be happy reach back out to you.  You can always call up your dedicated account rep or Rabbinic Coordinator, or just send us an email at service@ok.org.

Looking forward to another great year in kosher certification!

Best,

OK Kosher

3 Advantages to Consider for Your OK Kosher Programs

posted by December 2019

Advantages to consider in growing your kosher program

As your partners in kosher certification, OK Kosher appreciates the deep commitment that you have invested in your program with.  We want to honor that and continue to help you grow.  Here are three advantages to consider in maintaining your kosher programs.  Tap into these benefits in order to get more out of your company’s kosher certification.

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.

Adding New Products and Ingredients

  • 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 general, our online portal DigitalKosher should be used for these submissions.  In cases where the new approval will cause additional fees, your OK Kosher Account Representative will always provide you with transparent information.

Best Practices Using the OK Kosher Symbol

  • To maximize your investment in kosher, it is important for the kosher symbol to be printed clearly on your labels and website, prominently displayed and large enough that consumers can easily see it.  Remember that OK Kosher is one of your key selling points and should be utilized to the fullest. Visit our Guide for Using the OK Kosher Symbol for the details.

We hope you will make use of these advantages to consider for enhancing what kosher can do for you.  It is our goal that you turn to OK Kosher your in-house kosher experts for any and all kosher matters.  Always feel free to reach out – we’re here for you!

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

Best Practices in Kosher Compliance

posted by September 2015

Kosher Best Practices

Kosher Best Practices to Thrive in Certification

Customers often ask for kosher best practices, wondering what it takes to run effective kosher programs in between visits.  Therefore, we want to outline some basics to get your company up and running with an efficient and smooth program.  Here are some guiding principles to help you and your regulatory staff navigate this.

Kosher Without Compromise

In short…there are no shortcuts.  Our slogan, Kosher Without Compromise, runs through everything we do as an organization.  That said, OK Kosher’s commitment to the highest standard in kosher law is matched by our commitment to the highest levels of service to our clients. At every stage of our relationship with certified companies, we make sure no corners are cut, and no request goes unaddressed.  Our account reps are happy to guide you through the process of incorporating compliance measures into your day-to-day procedures, in accordance with your rabbinic coordinator’s guidelines and requirements.  If you need clarity on who your customer service account rep is, just shoot an email to service@ok.org.

Designating a Kosher Liaison

As a kosher certified company, you’re aware of the various regulations that apply to your company.  That said, you’ll want to make certain that the staff member assigned to the job will be in the right department and well equipped to set your company up for success. We recommend you designate one person (typically from the Quality Assurance or Regulatory Affairs department) to be your “Kosher Contact Person”. They’ll be actively in charge of the kosher duties and act as the in-house kosher expert for your company. This person 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. This is how we can best be aligned to your objectives.  The kosher contact person will also accompany your locally based field representative during the periodic, unannounced inspections at your facility.  Companies with multiple facilities generally appoint a full time corporate liaison to oversee kosher for all their facilities.

Essential Functions of the Kosher Contact Person

  • The Kosher Contact serves as a resource to both your company and OK Kosher on issues relating to certification. They study and implement the specific terms and conditions detailed in your Certification Agreement, and remain the point person with OK Kosher.
  • This member of your personnel will submit (or oversee submissions) or all new ingredients, suppliers and products to be certified.  We highly recommend setting up a login on our online customer portal, DigitalKosher for these submissions.
  • They’ll verify that your certified products (retail and industrial) carry the appropriate OK Kosher symbol(s), such as OK, OK-P, OK-D, etc..
  • 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.  The best place to start is with our Guide to the Most Advantageous Use of the OK Kosher Symbol.

Incorporating Solid Systems

Second, in order to achieve and maintain excellence in the kosher department, clear systems and kosher best practices must be established in every department.  These will need to consist of 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 to develop strategies for achieving maximum success.  It’s all part and parcel of your kosher program for us to advise you on kosher best practices – and we pride ourselves on this service.  Remember, you can always email service@ok.org if you’re unsure of who your account rep is, and we will point you in the right direction.

Making the Most of Your Annual Visit

posted by May 2015

Kosher Contact Person

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.