Kosher certification agency, kosher certification organization

Thousands of companies have successfully gone through the requirements to have their products kosher certified on an annual basis. However, there are situations where kosher certification is not viable. There are many potential reasons for this; generally they tend to fall into technical or fiscal issues.  There are also instances where the reasons are political or security related. For those who are starting their research into the possibility of kosher certification, EarthKosher has compiled a list of issues you may want to take into account before starting the certification process:

1. There are countries that are considered unsafe to send a rabbi in order to inspect a company for its kosher certification.  For example, EarthKosher has turned down requests for kosher certification in Lebanon. However, there are kosher certified products coming out of Iran and Pakistan, so there is a lot of gray area to take into account. Safety issues also apply in any country where there is ongoing civil war.

2. In order to have a kosher product you need to have kosher ingredients. These ingredients and their suppliers must also be stable. While kosher certification organizations do not restrict companies to a specific supplier of an ingredient, they do insist that any new supplier needs to be pre-approved by the kosher certification organization. If a company needs to retain the right to have a free hand at sourcing ingredients without pre-approval from the agency, this can, depending on what these ingredients are, be an issue that blocks kosher certification from being viable.

3. The easiest way to establish a kosher certification program is if a company has its own facility that is exclusively dedicated to kosher certified products. If a company controls the ingredients and equipment, then a kosher program is viable so long as these conform to Kosher certification requirements. When companies share a facility, produce kosher and non-kosher in the same facility, or use a Contract Manufacturer that produces non-kosher, it may be impossible to provide kosher certification under these circumstances. A kosher certification organization may deem this a high risk situation and won’t get involved or the company will nix the idea due to the cost of full-time supervision of production which can at times be required.  With that said, it is necessary to point out that there are facilities that produce kosher and non-kosher on the same equipment and within the same facility that are kosher certified and find it worthwhile and fiscally viable. These factors depend on the specifics of the company. Before coming to any conclusions, the best course of action is to discuss the specifics of your situation with us.

4. Kosher certification requirements are not limited to verifying kosher ingredients and equipment use. There are also for specific products kosher requirements that involve the production process. Certain food products require that the kosher inspector/supervisor be involved in the actual production process.  Kosher cheese and wine production are two examples of this scenario and there are numerous others. While kosher certification is possible in these situations, some company’s may find this process cost prohibitive or that the requirements are too restrictive.

5. Companies that provide Contract Manufacturing services to numerous companies may be averse to some kosher certification requirements. When working with companies that provide Contract Manufacturer services, the simplest situation is where the Contract Manufacturer commits to being a fully kosher facility. When this is not an option in the kosher certification process, keeping certification may require the frequent kosherization of equipment and more frequent inspections.  This will involve additional costs. While there are countless numbers of companies that engage kosher certification agencies under these circumstances, there are many others that don’t deem these certification costs worthwhile.

6. Some companies are committed to a very specific and exact ingredient. For example: wine, vinegar, cheese, or flavorings that are not available as kosher or do not offer kosher options that have the same quality, taste, or pricing, this will make kosher certification not possible.

7. If a company has been kosher certified in the past and violated its contractual terms (whether technical or fiscal violations) with its prior kosher certification organization, other kosher certifiers may be reluctant to work with this company. In these situations, the prospective kosher certifier will often contact the original certification agency for more information. However, given that kosher certification is essentially a risk management business, most kosher certifiers are averse to these kinds of situations unless there is a solid explanation for the violations with the prior agency or clear changes that have been made in ownership or management.

8. Companies sometimes assume that kosher certification pricing should be similar to organic certification pricing. In these instances, these companies are not prepared for what a kosher certifier will charge to certify their products At EarthKosher we offer discounted certification prices and know that this assumption is a conceptual flaw, rooted in a lack of understanding about kosher requirements. It is necessary to understand that although each of these certifications conducts inspections and are concerned with equipment, ingredients, and issues of cross-contamination, the underpinnings of these various certifications are very different. It is common for kosher certification agencies to conduct monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly inspections. Other certifications often require an annual inspection if that. The more frequent the inspections, the more costly the certification. To learn more about the difference between kosher and organic certification, please visit our kosher vs. organic certification page.

9. Many people think that every ingredient used in a kosher certified product requires a Letter of Kosher Certification to be considered truly kosher. This is not an accurate assumption. However, there are ingredients that do require a Letter of Kosher Certification.  If ingredients are being produced for example in the Amazon Rainforest or in Central Africa and neither the producer, nor the company dealing directly with the kosher certification agency is willing to pay for the the kosher certification process this can be an obvious deal breaker.

10. There are a wide range of standards and competency ratings among kosher certification organizations which should be noted is a self- regulated industry. Consequently, there are some kosher certification organizations or individual rabbis whose Letters of Kosher Certification for an ingredient or product will not be accepted by other kosher certification organizations. If a company is sourcing an ingredient that requires a reliable kosher certification, or if the ingredient or product is under the kosher certification of an agency that isn’t broadly accepted, or a substitute ingredient or supplier is not available; these factors can cause issues when trying to move forward with certification.

11. Some people assume that being Jewish provides an edge in the kosher certification process. In fact, this may present some unique obstacles. The main issue for most kosher certification agencies relates to the Passover holiday. A Jew is defined as someone born of a Jewish mother or a person who has converted to Judaism via an Orthodox rabbinic court. They are restricted from owning products or derivatives that originate from wheat, barley, oats, spelt, or rye by kosher law. This restriction takes place during the Passover holiday, which is an 8-day period during the spring season. It is also a common requirement that companies that are wholly Jewish-owned not produce grain-based or derived products during the Passover holiday. In most cases, companies that don’t respect this requirement will not proceed with kosher certification. However, there are some alternatives, such as having a non-Jewish partner, and other possible solutions. In general, this can still be an issue that one should be aware of. With that said, nothing is that black and white and there are hundreds of companies who have faced these issues and found ways of successfully resolving them to become kosher certified by a reliable agency.

12. Meat, whether from a land animal, fowl, or fish, is a highly sensitive ingredient in kosher law. This ingredient often requires full- time rabbinic supervision during production and where it is employed. Due to the extra supervision, getting kosher certification for meat may be cost prohibitive for some 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. Feel free to call the friendly staff at EarthKosher today at (888) 312-3559.