Seek and You Shall Find: How Information Makes
OU Kosher’s Job Easier
BY RABBI ELI GERSTEN
Often OU Kosher will request information from its certified companies regarding products and product lines that we do not directly certify. To properly certify a company, one must understand the totality of its operation. Setting up a kosher program is as much about arranging that things should go right as it is in understanding what can go wrong. Of course, we appreciate that this information, as well as all other information that is shared with the OU, is to be treated with the highest level of confidentiality.
It should be noted that it can also be advantageous to take the initiative in sharing information with the OU. In one classic example, a rabbinic field representative was asked by one of the companies that he visits if the company would be required to kosherize after running an uncertified bacon product. The initial answer of the rabbi was a resounding yes. Bacon, of course, is not kosher. However, when the batch sheets were reviewed, it became abundantly clear that all the ingredients were, in fact, kosher. The “bacon” product was merely a bacon seasoning. Although the product was not certified kosher, in truth there was nothing non-kosher about it, and there would be no need to kosherize. By going the extra step and sharing all the information, needless effort and lost productivity was avoided.
Often the OU needs to determine not only the list of ingredients in a non-certified product, but the exact percentages of certain ingredients as well. Also, we might need information regarding the temperatures, or range of temperatures, for the equipment on which the product is run. This can help us determine what method of cleaning and kosherization should be utilized. The more precise the information we have to work with, the more flexible we can be in setting up a workable program. In companies where anything can happen at any time, with little warning, obviously stricter safeguards are required.
We recognize that at times this information is not easily obtained. For example, a “non-kosher” ingredient might be purchased from another company that is hesitant to share its formula, or it might be difficult to get a temperature reading on a specific piece of equipment. But when possible, we appreciate the effort that is expended in obtaining this information, as it makes our job easier, and will hopefully benefit you as well.
RABBI ELI GERSTEN SERVES AS OU RABBINIC COORDINATOR AND RECORDER OF OU POLICY. A FREQUENT CONTRIBUTOR TO BTUS, HIS “SANITATION AT THE OU PLANT: CLEANLINESS REALLY IS NEXT TO GODLINESS,” APPEARED IN THE FALL 2013 ISSUE.