As the food industry continues to become ever transparent, the number of certifications appearing on product labels is growing by leaps and bounds.
Just about everything we now buy has one form of certification or another. One such certification that has been growing at a double digit rate year over year is Kosher.
While millions of consumers around the world—of all backgrounds—seek out Kosher products, many may not know what the word means, or how a product can become certified Kosher.
Kosher, from the Hebrew root Kasher, means pure, conforming with Kosher dietary laws. This can include no mixing of meat and milk, ritual slaughter and no consumption of insects.
To determine the feasibility of product obtaining certification, these are the questions that would need to be addressed:
1. Are the products produced at an exclusive facility or at a co-packer?
2. Where is the production facility (or facilities) located?
3. Is any other production/R&D taking place at the facility?
4. Is the product processed in anyway; baked, carbonated, extruded, pasteurized, hot/cold fill?
5. Are the ingredients used Kosher certified or from natural sources?
Typically, a Kosher certification agency will request this information and review it along with both an ingredient list, and a flow chart. This analysis will allow them to gain understanding on what, and how exactly it is taking place.
While using exclusively Kosher certified/compliant ingredients does not necessarily guarantee a products Kosher status, it certainly is a big step forward. Supervision and monitoring the ingredients, is what completes the process.
At times, an initial inspection will be required to further determine the possibility of certification. Otherwise, an annual (or more frequent) inspection would take place to monitor the facility production. The interval would generally depend on the complexity of the facility, ingredients used as well as the product type.
Once a company has successfully completed their certification, they receive a Kosher certificate that lists their products as well as symbol that can be used on the label and website.
While there can be variations, several common forms of Kosher certification include:
Pareve—This product is 100% dairy free and is suitable for lactose intolerant.
Dairy—Often marked with a “D” or the word Dairy alongside the symbol.
Dairy Equipment or DE—Does not contain Dairy, but is produced on shared equipment.
Many companies now choose to secure certification from an agency that offers multiple certifications such as Vegan, Paleo or even Organic/non-GMO. These certifications add value and provide products with a marketing advantage over non-certified brands.
Joint certification also streamlines the process, as many of the steps required are often identical or similar. By doing so, companies can quickly move forward and focus on what matters most – taking their company and products to the next level.
This article originally appeared at: http://www.wholefoodsmagazine.com/blog/kosher-certification-101