Representatives of kashrus agencies from around the world gathered last Thursday at the headquarters of the Orthodox Union for the annual conference sponsored by the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) with a broad agenda that covered the gamut of kashrus issues handled by the agencies. Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Kashrus Division of the Orthodox Union opened his remarks with accolades for Chabad shluchim (emissaries) from throughout the world for all they do for kashrus.
One immediate topic of concern was that the demand for EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) is causing widespread fraud. Rabbi Yecheskel Auerbach said that he tested the EVOO and found almost all brands to be adulterated. AKO will be setting up a committee to test a wide variety of EVOO’s before recommending that EVOO no longer be considered as a Group 1, ingredients that do are inherently kosher.
Rabbi Yakov Vaan of the Rabbinical Council of California cautioned the agencies to make their own decisions based on their own research in regards to bugs in vegetables. He said that he has seen too many Vaadim (kashrus committees) that are forbidding vegetables based on outdated information. Rabbi Yisroel Belsky of the Orthodox Union delivered a lecture about the halachos (Jewish laws) of convincing a company to change hashgachos. Rabbi Abraham Rosenfeld of the London Beth Din spoke about changes in bio diesel and how it further complicates the job of kashrus officials.
Another major topic at the AKO conference, according to its executive director, Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, was kashrus and transportation. Rabbi Shimon Lasker of the OK Kosher Certification – Europe division pleaded with agencies to join him to get the European companies to adhere to American standards. Rabbi Yechiel Teichman of the COR presented tips on how to monitor backhauling of trucks and other related items.
Rabbi Dovid Cohen of the cRc introduced a new app/website for both consumers and professionals called ASKCRC that promises to be a game-changer in the kosher world. Rabbi Binyomin Taub of RCBC alerted those that run kosher parties on Shabbos of how there is inadvertent desecration of the Shabbos by some of the Jewish waiters or managers.