From the moment it appeared upon the scene and changed the face of kosher certification forever, OU Direct has been the subject of intense speculation, rampant rumors and wild conjecture. What can it do? Where did it come from? What powers it? Who is behind it? Why is there grass growing in the ice cream in the picture on the log-in screen?
Details about OU Direct are not Group 1 information (definition: able to be obtained from any source). Veiled in secrecy and closely guarded, the inner workings of this revolutionary and innovative website have never before been disclosed to the kosher manufacturing public. Until now, that is.
To dispel the myths and address the myriad of misinformation circulating on the kosher street, an unnamed but highly placed OU Direct authority with a Group Six (allowed) clearance has anonymously shared the following inside information. What follows will be surprising and, in some cases, shocking. All of it has been independently verified. Here, unfettered and unedited, are the secret truths about what OU Direct is, and what it is not.
OU Direct IS…… Empowering! Everything you could ever need to run your kosher program, and more, is right there at your fingertips! It’s your one-stop shop for managing your every interaction with OU Kosher. With a simple, quick log in, you and the personnel you authorize in your satellite plants will have immediate access to:
• Your schedules A and B – current as of 30 seconds prior to your request;
• Your OU invoices – both past and current, with up to the minute status;
• Your OU Kosher Letters of Certification – for every label of every product in every plant;
• Your OU Forms and Applications – including new plant, new product, new ingredient, private label, product termination, plant termination and private label termination forms;
• Your OU symbols – camera ready JPG and EPS files for every possible OU symbol that you can use on your product packaging.
About the only piece of your company’s OU Kosher program that can’t be found right now on OU Direct is YOU! Log in today to this oasis of sanity in a crazy, confused and mixed-up world.
OU Direct IS NOT……. Dairy! Although the OU Direct logo is made up of an OU followed by the word Direct spelled with a capital “D”, this is NOT meant to indicate the OU Dairy symbol, and OUDirect.org is not meant solely for OU Dairy companies. Not understanding this, some OU Meat and OU Pareve companies have attempted to log on by going to OUMirect.org and OUPirect.org. This will not work. OU Fish companies are strongly advised not to log on to OUFirect.org, since this is apparently a well-known phishing site. OU Direct is available to all OU companies. Regardless of whether your own kosher symbol is OU D, OU Fish, OU Meat, OU Pareve or even just plain OU, OUDirect.org is where you belong.
OU Direct IS………. Energy Efficient! No more sharpening pencils, running to the fax machine, making phone calls, copying Letters of Certification, or any of the other myriad of previous kosher program maintenance activities that used to sap your strength and tire you out! Now, from the comfort of your leather, padded, executive chair, you can keep your program up to date with just a few mouse clicks. Even the formerly exhaustive task of locating acceptable ingredients has been simplified, with the access that OU Direct gives you to the UKD database. With this amazing tool, you can quickly locate and identify exactly the right raw material you need in your plant and have the comfort of knowing that it is already approved and accepted in the OU system. Once you have located the item, just click on it and then put it in your shopping cart.
Even if the item is not in the UKD, you can still submit it and attach an electronic copy of the kosher letter of certification that your supplier has emailed to you. As soon as you submit the cart, you will receive a receipt and, in most cases, you will find the item already added to your schedule A! All you need to do then is sit back, relax and plan what you are going to do with all of your newfound free time.
OU Direct IS NOT……… Taxable! The U.S. Tax Court, in its landmark IRS vs. Bagel Bob decision, ruled by a 4-to-1 majority that OU Direct is a non-taxable benefit to OU companies. In the aforementioned case, Bob Bagelberg, Founder and CEO of Bagel Bob’s Bakeries, was on OU Direct, creating customized OU Kosher letters of certification for the private labels on his new Boysenberry Bagel product. As each letter rolled perfectly off the printer, he could not contain his enthusiasm, and he loudly proclaimed, “OU Direct is awesome! It’s worth a million bucks!” A customer at the shop, who happened to be an IRS agent, overheard Mr. Bagelberg’s statement and proceeded to audit the company and charge it with tax evasion for failing to disclose $1,000,000 of unreported income – the value of having OU Direct!
The court, in its decision, reasoned that the peace of mind and state of happiness that result from being able to update schedules A and B, create customized letters of certification, authorize new products and ingredients, identify acceptable raw materials, access financial data, and have what is essentially 24/7 control of a company’s kosher program – in short, all the benefits that OU Direct offers – are impossible to place a value on since, as the court stated, “You can’t buy happiness.” Although the IRS appealed, the Court rejected their position, stating that the IRS claim was simply a case of database envy.
OU Direct IS…………. Secure! OU Kosher fully appreciates the sensitivity of the information that you share with us and goes to every extent possible to assure the confidentiality of your data. OU Direct utilizes high levels of security to protect your valuable information. Your connection to OU Direct is securely encrypted with 128-bit encryption. The connection uses TLS 1.0. The connection is encrypted using AES_128_CBC, with SHA 1 for message authentication, and RSA as the key exchange mechanism. You can sleep well at night knowing that everything you submit via OU Direct is safe and secure.
OU Direct IS NOT………… a Dating Service. Granted, one of the main benefits of OU Direct is unfettered access to the UKD (Unbelievable Kosher Database), which enables companies to find exactly the right ingredient match that they have been searching for. And it helps them find it based on OU’s unique 29 (almost) dimensions of compatibility, such as source company, item description, category, kosher status and kosher certification. But OU Direct cannot help you to find your life partner. And the only lonely hearts found lurking on OU Direct belong to artichokes and palms. Who, incidentally, are just waiting on the UKD for you to take them to your plant and make them your own. Log on today and review your ingredient matches for free!
OU Direct IS……………. Liberating! Once you begin doing all your kosher paperwork using OU Direct, you will never go back to pen and paper again. Who wouldn’t become addicted to a system that dispenses with submitting any forms and enables you to transmit all of your kosher information electronically? And, with OU Direct, you are no longer tied down to one long, comprehensive kosher letter of certification for your company, listing every product that you ever dreamed of making and had approved. You can create your own customized kosher letters. Feel free to mix and match plants and products, in-house and private label items. As long as it’s on your schedule B, you can put it on whatever kosher letter you need, in a choice of three different formats, of your own design. Let the creative juices flow!
OU Direct IS NOT……….. Illegal! A team of OU attorneys, based on extensive research and consultation with numerous state and federal justice authorities, has determined conclusively that “it is not a crime to streamline your kosher program and make your life easier”. In saving paper and energy, OU Direct is both green and contributes to longevity by removing stress and frustration from your life. And no animals were harmed in the development, implementation and administration of OU Direct. OU Direct – the smart, sensible and safe choice for your kosher program!
OU Direct IS…………. Free! Unlike other offers you receive, which try to lure you through the door with all sorts of low price, all-inclusive promises and then “nickel and dime” you for every service, OU Direct is included as part of your OU-provided kosher program absolutely free! The cost to your company? Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. It is just another example of the OU Kosher commitment to providing your company with the quickest and most efficient tools and systems to manage your kosher program, so that you can keep your focus on the important business of providing your consumers with high quality, kosher product.
A small but dedicated OU team of IT professionals has toiled for days, weeks and years, working in relative obscurity and total anonymity, to bring about a system that has revolutionized the way true professionals do kosher. Don’t miss the train before it pulls out of the station! Log on to OU Direct today and be an active participant in the bright new world of kosher!
Rabbi Avrohom Stone serves as OU Kosher Senior Rabbinic Field Representative visiting with OU certified companies throughout the country. His instructive and entertaining articles frequently appear in Behind the Union Symbol, and always elicit many positive responses.