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Saturday, August 24, 2019

CHICAGO — Kashrus officials from around the country continue to ponder the challenging issue of safeguarding the integrity of kosher meat. Last month, many of the officials participated in a conference call organized by the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO). The Orthodox Union, which certifies most of the kosher meat manufacturers in the country are also involved in a process to better safeguard the supply of kosher meat.

In Los Angeles, officials of the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC), in consultation with kashrus officials, were reviewing their procedures in the aftermath of the scandal at the Doheny Meat Market where allegedly non-glatt kosher meat was smuggled into the retail store. The ideas collected at the AKO conference were included in a document called the “AKO Meat Protocol Suggestions.” Some of the rabbis were clearly hoping that many of the suggestions would become of new universally accepted standards for kosher meats, perhaps similar to protocols adopted by the highly respected Kedassia certification in the UK. Kashrus officials pointed out that many of the suggested procedures in the AKO document are already policy at some of the major kosher certifying agencies.

Although the suggested procedures cover manufacturing, wholesale, and retail, the major changes would be at retail, where kashrus sources say some of the problems still exist. For example, one suggestion was called “forensic hashgacha” which would calculate how many trays, bags, packages need to be used for one hundred pounds of meat with the hashagacha making sure that the numbers are in sync.

There was a proposal that kashrus inspectors visiting re‐packing facilities should audit the physical and electronic files recording the invoices as well as the accounts receivable and accounts payable. All seals would be ordered solely by the hashgacha using the vendor’s credit card and shipped directly to the mashgiach. Better coding would be put in place, including using the hard to forge holograms. Slaughterhouses should not use tape; instead strap bands. Ideally meat should be sold only in the original packaging by the slaughterhouse. However if repackaging is done, then the original sticker with the name of the  producer should not be reused.

Other suggestions in the AKO document called for the  mashgiach to be paid directly by the certifying agency, to have the mashgiach establish a relationship with the alarm company so that the hashgacha has access to the logs of the alarm company to see who came in and at what time the alarms are turned off during the day or night; and every meat establishment should have video streaming at all times.

Staff Reporters from Kosher Today Reprinted with permission from Kosher Today