While there are literally thousands of new companies who have their products Kosher certified on an annual basis there are situations where Kosher certification is not deemed viable. The general reasons for this are either: technical, fiscal or the interrelationship between the two. While in limited instances the reasons are political or security related. Here is a laundry list of issues:
1. There are countries where it is simply unsafe to send a rabbi to inspect a company for its Kosher certification. Thus, for example we have turned down a request for Kosher certification in Lebanon. However, there are Kosher certified products coming out of Iran and Pakistan so one should not draw broad conclusions. The same issue would apply in a country where there is ongoing civil war.
2. There are companies that manufacture products in relatively, from a rabbinic perspective, remote even if safe parts of the world. If this company manufactures a relatively simply product than this is not necessarily an issue as the cost may be within the company’s budget. However, if from a Kosher industry perspective the facility requires frequent inspections this can for some companies put the cost of Kosher certification beyond the budget allotted.
3. In order to have a Kosher product you need to have Kosher ingredients. These ingredients and their suppliers must be stable. While Kosher certification organizations do not restrict companies to a specific supplier of an ingredient they do insist that any new supplier where the ingredient indicates it be pre-approved by the Kosher certification organization. If a company needs to retain the right, on certain ingredients that require a Kosher certificate, to have a free hand at sourcing without pre-approval from the agency this will be an issue blocking the Kosher certification.
4. If a company has its own facility and this facility is dedicated to Kosher certified products exclusively this is the simplest situation to establish a Kosher certification program. This is because if the company controls the ingredients and equipment than 9 times out of 10 a Kosher program is viable. When companies share a facility, produce Kosher and Non-Kosher in the same facility or use a Contract Manufacturer that produces Non-Kosher while it may not be impossible to Kosher certify the company it at times is. Either because the Kosher certification organization deems it a high risk situation and won’t get involved to begin with or the cost of full time supervision of production that avoids such risk may be cost prohibitive. It is necessary to point out that there are facilities that produce Kosher and Non-Kosher on the very same equipment let alone within the same facility that are Kosher certified and find it affordable and worthwhile. It all depends on the specifics of the company and it would be wise to discuss your situation with us before drawing any firm conclusions.
5. Kosher certification requirements in some instances are not just about Kosher ingredients and equipment. At times there are Kosher requirements that involve the actual production processes as well. Certain food products require that the Kosher inspector/supervisor be involved in the actual production process itself not just conduct inspections of various frequencies. In these cases, kosher cheese and wine production being just two examples, while Kosher certification is possible it can from some company’s perspective be cost prohibitive.
6. Companies that provide Contract Manufacturing services to other agencies may be averse to the Kosher certification requirements that supervising their facilities entail. The simplest situation is where the Contract Manufacturer commits to being a fully Kosher facility. Where this is not the case depending on what is being made and how its being made this may require the frequent Kosherization of equipment and more frequent inspections which involve additional costs. While there are countless numbers of companies that engage Kosher certification agencies under such circumstances there are many others who don’t deem it worthwhile.
7. Some companies understandably are committed to a certain ingredient: wine, vinegar, cheese or flavorings being common examples that are either not available as Kosher or do not have the same quality, taste or pricing that makes a switch viable. In these situations Kosher certification does not usually get off the ground.
8. If a company has been Kosher certified in the past and has violated its contractual terms whether technical or fiscal with its prior Kosher certification organization there will likely be a significant reluctance on the part of another Kosher certification organization to take on such a company. In these situations the Kosher certifier will always contact the other agency and given that Kosher certification is essentially a risk management business most Kosher certifiers are averse to such risk laden situations.
9. Companies sometimes assume that Kosher certification should be priced similarly to how some Organic or Fair Trade certifiers or other respective certifications are priced. They are unprepared for what even a discount Kosher certifier like EarthKosher will charge to Kosher certify their company. This assumption is a conceptual flaw rooted in a lack of understanding of Kosher requirements. It is necessary to understand that the underpinnings of these various certifications are radically different despite the fact that each conducts inspections and is concerned with equipment, ingredients and issues of cross-contamination. It is very common for Kosher agencies to conduct monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly inspections obviously these inspection routines cost more than an annual inspection which is the norm in most other certification regimens.
10. Contrary to what is generally assumed not every ingredient utilized in a Kosher certified product or sold as Kosher requires a Letter of Kosher Certification to be accepted as Kosher by a Kosher certification organization. However, those ingredients that do require such a Letter of Kosher Certification, and they are many, if they are being produced in the Amazon Rainforest or in Central Africa and neither the producer not the company dealing with the Kosher certification agency is willing to foot the bill this is going to be a problem. If the producer of this undocumented ingredient is more within logistical reach and the producer and company is cooperative a solution is usually within reach.
11. There is a wide range of standards and competency ratings among Kosher certification organizations. Consequently, there are some Kosher certification organizations or individual rabbis whose Letters of Kosher Certification for a given ingredient or product will not be accepted by other Kosher certification organizations. If a company is sourcing an ingredient that is deemed to require a reliable Kosher certification and if the ingredient or product is under the Kosher certification of an agency that does not enjoy broad acceptance and a substitute ingredient or supplier is not available than this can be an issue in moving forward.
12. While one might assume that being Jewish is a plus in Kosher certification in fact it presents some unique obstacles. The main issue for most Kosher certification agencies relates to the Passover holiday. A Jew, defined as someone born of a Jewish mother or who has converted to Judaism via an Orthodox rabbinic court regardless of their personal religious affiliation or beliefs is by Kosher law restricted from owning products or derivatives that originate from: Wheat, Barley, Oats, Spelt or Rye during the Passover holiday which is a 8 day period during the Spring season. Often it is required that companies who are wholly Jewish owned not produce grain based or derived products during the Passover holiday. Companies not willing to respect this requirement will generally not proceed with Kosher certification. There are alternatives where there is a Non- Jewish partner and possible other solutions as well but in general this can be an issue that one should be aware of. It is important to not assume that this is a complete deal breaker as there are hundreds of companies who have this issue and find ways of successfully resolving them and are Kosher certified by reliable Kosher certification agencies.
13. Meat whether from a Land animal or Fowl as well as Fish is a highly sensitive ingredient in Kosher law and usually requires Full Time-rabbinic supervision during production where it is employed. This can be cost prohibitive for most companies.
Our best counsel is that your company takes the time to contact us before assuming anything. The purpose of our providing this information is educational and our experience leads us to believe that it is worth a 10 minute phone call to confirm your concerns or to relieve them.