Promoting koshers products in Canada
Kashruth specifically refers to the Jewish dietary laws. Conforming to Kashruth and the associated labelling requirements increases various products’ acceptability for Muslims, the lactose intolerant, allergy sufferers and many with other types of food sensitivities. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians rely on the COR to assist them in meeting their dietary requirements.
The COR’s Board of Directors is composed of lay representatives from greater Toronto’s Jewish community and the Rabbinical Vaad Hakashruth, a committee of Orthodox Toronto pulpit rabbis. It is these two governing bodies that guide the operation and set the standards for the Kashruth Council of Canada. Products with the Council’s familiar COR symbol, the symbol of one of the most recognized Kashruth agencies in the world, are trusted kosher products.
The Kashruth Council of Canada certifies more than 900 retail and commercial facilities. More than 45,000 products carry the COR as a symbol of kashruth certification. The COR’s mandate is to provide the highest level of kosher supervision using sophisticated scientific technology to provide customers with the knowledge that they are consuming products that meet the most intricate parameters of a kosher diet.
What is kosher?
The word Kosher is a Hebrew word meaning “fit” or “proper”. In the context of food consumption it refers to foods that meet the requirement of Jewish dietary laws and, thus, are fit to be eaten.
“An individual who is kosher observant will only eat certain types of meat slaughtered and processed in a certain way. Fish, poultry, dairy and wine products also have specific guidelines that must be followed,” says Rabbi Sholom Adler, Kashruth Administrator for the COR . A central tenet of Kashruth is the prohibition against mixing meat and dairy.
The building blocks of all manufactured food products are its ingredients and these are often derivatives of the above items, such as animal by-products. The Kosher certification process determines that all ingredients and derivatives meet the kosher standards and are acceptable for consumption for those following Jewish dietary laws.
The Council performs audits, reviews and spontaneous inspections of COR-certified facilities. Food manufacturers wishing to service the kosher market submit an application listing all the ingredients and products used in their particular plant. A Rabbinic Coordinator experienced in food manufacturing will perform an initial inspection to confirm the acceptability of this list of ingredients.
Equipment and facility
But ingredients are not all that must be deemed kosher by the COR. “The kosher certification is not only about the ingredients; it is also about the process,” says Rabbi Adler. “Cross-contamination between equipment is another common issue.”
Kosher foods must be processed on equipment that is deemed kosher as well. “Therefore, we have to go through a kosherization process; a one-time procedure where the equipment is sterilised at 100 degrees Celsius under the supervision of a rabbi,” explains Rabbi Adler.
Is this difficult for a company to do? Rabbi Adler says “not at all. I can’t stress it enough. It’s not a difficult process. Today, most ingredients on the market are already kosher by default. The awareness of kosher is out there and it is simple for ingredients to be deemed kosher, especially if they do not include lard, or gelatine from animal sources which is unacceptable for Kosher diets.”
After the ingredients, process and equipment have been deemed kosher and the standard contract has been signed , the facility or product receives the COR symbol. The Council then uses a set list of criteria dictating the number of inspections required throughout the year at each certified plant. This list includes the complexity of the products, the number of ingredients used, and the number of lines and the type of equipment used to make the products. Other important factors include the plant’s level of organization and the degree of cooperation.
This is why the Kashruth Council of Canada, the governing body that diligently audits food products for the assurance of consumers remains an integral part of the larger Jewish community in Canada.
This article originally appeared in The Canadian Business Journal and can be viewed online here.