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KOSHER SYMBOLS
SOME RELIABLE CERTIFICATIONS
   
United States of America

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Atlanta Kashrus Commission
1855 La Vista Rd.,
Atlanta, GA 30329

Phone: (404) 634-4063; Fax: (404) 634-4254

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Ilan Feldman
 

The Association for Reliable Kashrus
104 Cumberland Place, Lawrence, NY 11559

Phone: (516) 239-5306; Fax: (845) 352-3847

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Shlomo Ullman

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Beis Din of Crown Heights Vaad Hakashrus
512 Montgomery St., Brooklyn, NY 11225

Phone: (718) 604-2500; Fax: (718) 221-0103

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yossi Brook

Blue Ribbon Kosher
2716 Kipling Ave. South,
Minneapolis, MN 55416

Phone: (952) 925-3651; Fax: (952) 925-3059

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Baruch Clein

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California K Igud Hakashrus of Los Angeles (Kehillah Kosher)
186 North Citrus Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone: (323) 935-8383; Fax: (323) 965-9020

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Avraham Teichman

Certified Kosher Underwriters
1310 48th St.,

Phone: (718) 436-7373; Fax: (718) 436-3115

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Pinchos Horowitz

 

Chabad Lubavitch Arizona
2110 East Lincoln Dr., Brooklyn, NY 11219

Phone: (602) 944-2753; Fax: (602) 749-1131

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Zalman Levertov

 

Chabad of South Nevada
1261 Arville St., Las Vegas, NV 89102

Phone: (702) 259–0770
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Shea Harlig

 

Chabad House of Western Michigan Kashrus Division
2615 Michigan NE,
Grand Rapids, MI 19506

Phone: (616) 957-0770; Fax: (616) 957-2368

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yosef Weingarten

 

Congregation Arugas Habosem 
Phone; (718) 387–9079

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yosef Moshe Grunwald

 

Congregation Kesser Israel
136 SW Meade St., Portland, OR 97201

Phone: (503) 222-1239; Fax: (503) 226-0241

Rabbinic Administrator: 
 

 

Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar
150 Rodney St., P.O. Box 506, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Phone: (718) 384-7449; Fax: (718) 384-7455

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yisroel Chaim Friedman

 

Coordinated Kosher Supervision
2716 Kipling Avenue South, 

Phone: (952) 925-3651; Fax: (952) 925-3059

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Baruch Clein

Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc)
2701 W. Howard, Chicago, IL. 60645
Phone: (773) 465-3900; Fax: (773) 465-6929

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Sholem Fishbane  

E-Mail:  info@crcweb.org

Central Rabbinical Congress (Hisachdus Harabanim)
85 Division Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11211

Phone: (718) 384-6765; Fax: (718) 486-5574

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yitzchak Glick

Community Kashrus of Greater Philadelphia
7505 Brookhaven Rd., Philadelphia, PA 19151

Phone: (610) 658-1967; Fax: (215) 473-6220

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Shlomo Caplan

Rabbi Dov Brisman

 

Rabbi Judah Dardik
3778 Park Blvd.,
Oakland, CA 94610

Phone: (510) 482-1147; Fax: (510) 482-2374
 

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Debracin (Rabbi Shlomo Stern)
1641 56th St., Brooklyn, NY 11204

Phone: (718) 853–9623

The Diamond K
100 Woodcliff Rd., Brookline, MA 02467

Phone: (617) 469- 5000; Fax: (617) 469-0089

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Mordechai Eckhaus

 

Double U Kashrus Badatz Mehadrin USA
1140 Forest Ave., Lakewood, NJ 08701
Phone: (732) 363-7979; Fax: (732) 363-5451

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Y. Shain

Earth K

3510 SW Vermont St.
Portland, Oregon 97219
(503) 977-5052
director@earthkosher.com
www.earthkosher.com
Rabbi Zecharyah Goldman
Rabbinic Administrator

Florida K and Florida Kashrus Services
642 Green Meadow Ave., Maitland, FL 32751

Phone: (407) 644-2500; Fax: (407) 644-7763

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Sholom B. Dubov

 

Rabbi Shlomo Gissinger
170 Sunset Rd., Lakewood, NJ 08701
Phone: (732) 370–2139

 

Rabbi Binyamin Gruber
122 Adar Ct., Monsey, NY 10952
Phone: (845) 425–7516

THE HEART "K" (Kehillah Kosher)
186 North Citrus Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone: (323) 935-8383; Fax: (323) 965-9020

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Avraham Teichman

Jersey Shore Orthodox Rabbinate (J.S.O.R.)
230 Crosby Ave., Deal, NJ 07723

Phone: (732) 531-4872; Fax: (732) 531-9021

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yitzchak Farhi

 

K’hal Adas Vishnitz
186 Hooper St., Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone: (718) 387-1871
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Fishel Sanderowitz

 

K’hal Adas Jeshurun (Breuer’s) (KAJ)
85-93 Bennett Ave, New York, NY 10033

Phone: (212) 923-3582; Fax: (212) 781-4275

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rav Zachariah Gelley

K’hal Chizuk Hadas of Flatbush
1421 Avenue O, Brooklyn, NY 11230

Phone: (718) 376-3755; Fax: (718) 375-2340

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yisroel Gornish

Rabbi Benjamin Kaplinsky
802 Roosevelt Court,
Far Rockaway, NY  11691

Phone: (718) 327-3238; Fax: (718) 327-6529
 

Kashrus Council of Lakewood N.J.
750 Forest Ave. #66, Lakewood, NJ 08701

Phone: (732) 901-1888; Fax: (732) 901-1833

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Avrohom Moshe Weisner

  Kosher Information Bureau
12753 Chandler Blvd.
Valley Village, California 91607
Phone: (818) 262-5351  Fax: (818) 766-8537
e-mail: eeidlitz@kosherquest.org
Web site:www.kosherquest.org
Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz

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Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit (K-COR)
16947 West Ten Mile Rd., Southfield, MI 48075

Phone: (248) 559-5005; Fax: (248) 559-5202

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi B. Broyde

Young Israel of West Hempstead
630 Hempstead Ave., West Hempstead, NY 11552

Phone: (516) 481-7429; Fax: (516) 481-3105

Rabbinic Administrator: 
 Rabbi Yehuda Kelemer

 

 

Knesses Israel Torah Center
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yosef Etz-Hasadeh

916 481-1159

 

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Kof-K Kosher Supervision
201 The Plaza,
Teaneck, NJ 07666
Phone: (201) 837-0500; Fax: (201) 837-0126

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Aharon Felder

 

Kosher Certification Service
401 North Laurel Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90048

Phone: (323) 782-1433; Fax: (323) 651-0660

Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi Eli Frankel

Kosher Supervisors of Wisconsin
3100 North 52nd St., Milwaukee, WI 53216

Phone: (414) 442-5730; Fax: (414) 442-6171

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Nachman Levine

 

 

Rabbi Shmuel Dovid Krausz (Udvarer Rav)
227 Rutledge St., Brooklyn, NY 11211
Phone: (718) 387-2289
 

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Kosher Supervision of America (KSA)
P.O. Box 35721, Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone: (310) 282-0444; Fax: (310) 282-0505

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon

The Lehigh Valley Kashrus Commission (LVKC)
702 N. 22nd St.,
Allentown, PA 18104

Phone: (610) 434-3109; Fax: (610) 435-2859

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Mitchell Raven

Rabbi Yitzchok M. Leizerowski

Phone: (215) 342-7414
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Dov Brisman

Natural Food Certifiers
648 Central Park Ave.,
Scarsdale, NY 10583

Phone: (888) 422-4NFC; Fax: (914) 426-0897

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Reuven Flamer

New Square Kosher Council
21 Truman Ave.

New Square, N.Y. 10977

Rabbi C.M. Wagshal, Rabbinic Administrator

Phone: 845 354-5120

Email: NSKOSHER@THEJNET.COM

 

National Kashrus (NK)
101 Route 306, Monsey, NY 10952
Phone: (845) 352-4448; Fax: (845) 356-9756

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yaacov Lipschutz

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The Organized Kashrus Laboratories (O/K)
391 Troy Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213

Phone: (718) 756-7500; Fax: (718) 756-7503

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Don Yoel Levy

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Rabbinical Council of Orange County & Long Beach (Orange K)
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Binyomin Fajnland

South Palm Beach Vaad (ORB)
5840 Sterling Rd. #256,
Hollywood, FL 33021

Phone: (305) 534-9499; Fax: (305) 532-3076

Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi M. Spitz

 

Org. of Orthodox Kashrus Supervision

Phone: (773) 539-8049
Rabbinic Administrator: 
Rabbi Moshe Soloveichik

International Kosher Supervision/Texas “K” Chicago Rabbinical Council
Phone: (773) 465-3900; Fax: (773) 465-6929

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Sholem Fishbane

 

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU)
11 Broadway, New York, NY 10004

Phone; (212) 613-8241; Fax: (212) 564-9058

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Menachem Genack

THE "OV" Kosher Inspection Service
of The Vaad Hoeir of Saint Louis
Rabbi Sholom Rivkin (314) 569-2770

Young Israel of Plainview
Phone: (516) 433–4811
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Moshe Portnoy

Rabbinical Council of California (RCC)
617 South Olive St. #515, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Phone: (213) 489-8080; Fax: (213) 489-8077

Rabbinic Administrator (Kashrus):  Rabbi Nissim Davidi

 

Kehillas Yaakov Pupa, Monsey
Phone: (845) 425-1260

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Moshe Rosner

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Scroll K / Vaad Hakashrus of Denver
1350 Vrain St., Denver, CO 80204

Phone: (303) 595-9349; Fax: (303) 629-5159

Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi M. Heisler

 
 

Star-K Kosher Certification (chalav Yisrael) &  Star-D Certification (non-chalav Yisrael)
122 Slade Ave. #300, Baltimore, MD 21208
Phone: (410) 484-4110; Fax: (410) 653-9294
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Moshe Heinemann

 

Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum (Nirbater Rav)
1617 46th St., Brooklyn, NY 11204

Phone: (718) 851-1221; Fax: (718) 436-4505
 

 

Rabbi Aaron Simkin

Young Israel of Northridge

17511 Devonshire Street

Northridge, California 91325

818 368-2221

Web: www.yion.org

Rabbi Nuchem Efraim Teitelbaum (Volover Rav)
5808 11th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11219
Phone: (718) 436-4685

SKS Kosher Certification Services
1850 52nd Street
Brooklyn NY 11204

Phone: (718) 360-7222; Fax: (718) 256-7463

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Mechel Moskowitz

United Mehadrin Kosher
|1001 Prior Ave. South, St. Paul, MN 55116

Phone: (651) 690-2137; Fax: (651) 690-1144

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Asher Zellingold

Vaad Hakashrus of K’hal Machzikei Hadas of Belz
P.O. Box 190728, Brooklyn, NY 11219

Phone; (718) 854-3711; Fax: (718) 854-0838

Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi U. Eckstein

Vaad Hakashrus of Buffalo
P.O. Box 755, Williamsville, NY 14231

Phone: (716) 634-3990; Fax: (716) 634-0212

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Yirmiya Milevsky

Vaad Hakashrus of the Capital District

877 Madison Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
Phone: & Fax: 518-489-1530
Rabbi Moshe E. Bomzer, Rav HaMachshir
Rabbi Moshe Berger, Coordinator of Supervisions

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Dallas Kosher (Vaad Hakashrus of Dallas)
7800 Northaven Rd.,
Dallas, TX 75230

Phone: (214) 739-6535; Fax: (214) 739-4635

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi S. Klein

 

Vaad Hakashrus of Kiryas Yoel
Monroe, NY 10950
Phone: (845) 783-7408
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Beresh Kaufman

 

Vaad Hakashrus of Mechon L’Hoyroa
168 Maple Ave., Monsey, NY 10952

Phone: (845) 425-9565 (ext. 101); Fax: (845) 425-2094

Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi Y. Tauber

Vaad Hakashrus of Northern California
The Kosher Food Council of N. California

2520 Warring St., Berkeley, CA 94704

Phone: (510) 380-2295; Fax: (510) 217-3596

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi L. Zirkind
 

 

Vaad Hakashrus of Raritan Valley
P.O. Box 4119, Highland Park, NJ 08904

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Reuven Drucker

 

Vaad Hakashrus of Rochester (VKR)
1161 Monroe Ave.,
Phone: (716) 473–1625; fax: (716) 473–0614

Rabbinic Administrator: 
Rabbi S. Kilimnick

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Vaad Harabanim of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway
597A Willow Ave., Cedarhurst, NY 11516

Phone: (516) 569-4536; Fax: (516) 569-4565

Vaad Harabanim of Flatbush
1575 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11230

Phone: (718) 951-8585; Fax: (718) 951-8510

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Meir Goldberg

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Vaad Harabanim of Greater Seattle
5100 South Dawson St. #102,
Seattle, WA 98118

Phone: (206) 760-0805; Fax: (206) 725-0347

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Aharon Brun-Kestler

Vaad Harabanim of Greater Washington
7826 Eastern Ave. NW Suite LLB, Washington, DC 20012

Phone: (202) 291-6052; Fax: (202) 291-5377

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Hillel Klavan

 

Vaad Harabanim of San Diego
8625 La Jolla Scenic Dr. North,
La Jolla, CA 92037

Phone: (858) 535-1196; Fax: ( 858) 535-0037

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlgelernter

Vaad of Lancaster / Cong. Degel Israel
1120 Columbia Ave., Lancaster, PA 17603
Phone: (717) 397-0183; Fax: (717) 509-
6188
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Shaya Sackett
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England

Federation of Synagogues
65 Watford Way London, NW4 3AQ
Tel (44208) 202 2263 Fax (44203) 0610
Director of Kashrus – Dayan M Elzas
info@kfkosher.org

kedassia.gif (845 bytes) Kedassia, The Joint Kashrus Committee of England|
140 Stamford Hill, London N16 6QT
Phone: (44208) 802-6226 Fax: (44208) 809-7092
Rabbinic Administrator:  Mr. Yitzchok Feldman
K’hal Machzikei Hadas Edgeware
7 The Rise, Edgeware, Middlesex HABBNS
Phone: (44208) 958-1030 Fax: (44208) 958-3036
Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi Eliezer Schneebalg 
London Beth Din Kashrut Division
735 High Road, London N12 0US
Phone: (44208) 343-6253 Fax: (44208) 343-6254
Email: gita@kosher.org.uk
Machzikei Hadas Manchester
17 Northumberland St., Salford M7FH
Phone: (44161) 792-1313 Fax: (44161) 792-8592
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi M.M. Schneebalg
mk-england.gif (735 bytes) Manchester Beis Din
435 Cheetham Hill Rd., Manchester 8

Phone: (44161) 740-9711
Fax: (44161) 721-4249

Rabbinic Administrator: 

Dayan Osher Yaakov Westheim
15 Broom Lane, Salford M7 4EQ
Phone: (44161) 740-9711 Fax: (44161) 792-5124

Rabbinic Administrator: Mr. Yehuda Weiss

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Canada
Picture Kashrus Council of Canada (COR)
4600 Bathurst St. #240, Toronto, Ontario M2R 3V2

Phone: (416) 635-9550; Fax: (416) 635-8760

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Mordechai Levin
Picture Montreal Vaad Hair
6825 Decarie Blvd., Montreal, Quebec H3W3E4

Phone: (514) 739-6363; Fax: (514) 739-7024

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Jaffe

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Orthodox Rabbinical Council of British Columbia
8080 Francis Rd., Richmond, BC V6Y 1A4

Phone: (604) 275-0042; Fax: (604) 277-2225

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Levy Teitelbaum

  Argentina

UK Kashrut
Uriburu 774 4°B (1027), Cap. Fed. - Buenos Aires - Argentina
Tel: (5411) 4951-8366; TeleFax: (5411) 4952-9422. Rabbi Gabriel Yabra, Rabbinic Director.
Rabbi Abraham Shrem, Rabbi Eliahu Cohen Rabbinic Coordinator, Rabbi Moshe Silberberg, Rabbi Moshe Szusterman, Field Supervisors.

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Australia
Kosher Australia
572 Inkerman Rd., Caulfield, Vic. 3161
Phone: (613) 9527-8337
; Fax: (613) 9528-4262
Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi J. Gutnick
The NSW Kashrus Authority|
P.O. Box 7206, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026
Phone: (612) 9365-2933; Fax: (612) 9365-0933

Rabbinic Administrator:  Moshe D. Gutnick
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Israel

The Beis Din Tzedek of Agudas Israel Moetzes Hakashrus

Phone: (9722) 538-4999; Fax: (9722) 538-5145
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Zvi Geffner

Badatz Mehadrin
; Fax: (9728) 939-0818
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Avraham Rubin

The Beis Din Tzedek of the Eidah Hachareidis of Jerusalem Binyanei Zupnick
26A Rechov Strauss, Jerusalem
Phone: (9722) 624-6935
;
Fax: (9722) 625-4975
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Naftali Halberstam

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The Beis Din Tzedek of K’hal Machzikei Hadas - Maareches Hakashrus
P.O. Box 41109, Jerusalem 91410
Phone: (9722) 538-5832
; Fax: (9722) 537-4001
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Mordechai Brisk

Chug Chasam Sofer
18 Maimon St., P.O. Box 426, Bnei Brak 51273
Phone: (9723) 618-8596
; Fax: (9723) 579-5175
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Stern

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Rabbi Moshe Yehudah Leib Landau
, Bnei Brak
Phone: (9723) 618-2647
; Fax: (9723) 579-8967

“OU” in Israel OU Israel Center
22 Keren Hayesod St., P.O. Box 37015, Jerusalem 91370
Phone: (9722) 563-0303
;
Fax: (9722) 563-0061
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Mordechai Kuber

Rabanut Hareishit Rechovot
2 Goldberg St., Rechovot
Phone: (9728) 936–2682
; Fax: (9728) 936–2755
Rabbinic Administrator: 
Rabbi Avraham Rubin

Rabanut Yerushalayim Mehadrin
; Fax: (9722) 623-6816

Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Adler

Shearis Yisrael
Phone: (9723) 579-8631
; Fax: (9723) 579-8633
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Michael Hoffman

S.I.K.S. Ltd./ Services International Kosher Supervision
P.O. Box 34108, Jerusalem 91340
Phone: (9722) 651-5361
; Fax: (9722) 651-9087
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Moshe Saadoun

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Brazil

Communidade Ortodoxa Israelita Kehillas Hachareidim Departmento de Kashrus
Fax: (5511) 3064-0302

China

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HKK Kosher Certification Service

Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi D. Zadok

11/A Kingsford Height
17 Babington Path
Mid Levels Hong Kong
Tel: 852 2 540-8661  Fax: 852 2 549-9334
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France

Adas Yereim of Paris Rabbi Y.D. Frankfurter
10 Rue Cadet, 9e (Metro Cadet), Paris 75009
Phone (3314) 246-3647  Fax: (3314) 247-0495
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Chaim Amram

Rabbi Hilel Pewzner (Rav of Lubavitch - France)
Cite de L’education Sinai  2 a 8 Rue Tristan Tzara 75018 Paris
Phone: (3314) 038-1011  Fax: (3314) 038-0771
Rabbinic Administrator: Rabbi Hilel Pewzner

Rabbi Mordechai Rottenberg (Chief Orthodox Rav of Paris)
10 Rue Pavee, Paris 75004
Phone: (3314) 887-4903  Fax: (3314) 887-2629

Rabbi Shmuel Yaffa-Schlessinger
14 Rue Oberlin, Strasbourg
Phone: (3338) 836-2745 

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Mexico
Kashrut Department of Maguen David Community in Mexico City
Lafontaine #229, Polanco 11550, Mexico City
Phone: (525) 203-9964  Fax: (525) 250-6681
Rabbinic Administrator:  Rabbi Nisim Hilu
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It is important to note that these agencies frequently try to inform the consumer regarding the full status of the products under their supervision. The following are some of their designations with their meanings:
D — Dairy
DE — Dairy Equipment (no actual dairy in ingredients, hence it can be eaten after a meat meal, but not together with meat)

P — Passover; Kosher for all year including Passover (Note: “P” NEVER designates pareve)

Pareve — Non-dairy and non-meat
Chalav Yisrael — Kosher supervised milk used in ingredients
Pas Yisrael — Jewish baked goods
Yashan — Not from current grain crop
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Reliable Kosher Symbols When these are on the outside, you can trust what's inside.
The following symbols are among those that we can recommend without qualification, meaning that you can assume that we would recommend any product that is legitimately certified by one of these agencies.    If a symbol does not appear here it does not mean that we would not recommend any or all of the foods certified by that agency.  In fact, you will find many products in our database that bear symbols that do not appear here, or that bear no symbol at all.  When you have a question about whether we would recommend any particular product, please search the database for that product.  If you don’t find it in the database, you are welcome to ask us.

HISTORY OF KOSHER SUPERVISION

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    In the U.S.A., the kosher certifying agencies with which we are familiar did not start until the 1920’s and 1930’s, but their development can be traced back over 200 years. The need for kosher supervision in the United States dates back to Colonial times. As early as 1660, a Jew from Portugal applied for a license to sell kosher meat in New Amsterdam. The first recorded complaint was in 1771 against the Shochet Moshe. In 1774, the widow, Hetty Hays, complained that her shochet (ritual slaughterer) was selling non-kosher meat. This led to the first court license revocation against a kosher butcher in 1796.
    As Jewish communities developed in the United States, they originally followed the European pattern of having community appointed shochtim. By this method, the shochet could easily be removed if he did not follow the strict guidelines set down by the community leaders. This method changed drastically in 1813, when the schochet, Avraham Jacobs, became the first independent schochet in the United States. He was followed by many more. Unfortunately, this change led to a rapid decline in the standard of kosher meat.
    In 1863, a group of laymen and shochtim got together to try to form a kashrus organization that could control this situation. Regrettably, they were unsuccessful. It was not until 1897 that the shochtim themselves banded together to form a union called "Meleches Hakodesh." Their goal was to improve kashrus standards, as well as the wages of shochtim.
    By 1918, kosher products started finding their way into the American market. Abraham Goldstein, a chemist, was highly instrumental in both importing these products as well as in convincing domestic companies (such as Sunshine Biscuit Co.) to become certified kosher.
    In 1924, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis (O/U), which had been established in 1892, decided to enter the field of kashrus. Mr. Goldstein was appointed as its first director. During the "food revolution" of the past 50 years, as more and more products are prepared in company plants and not in private kitchens, the "O/U" has been active as a non-profit organization in the kosher certification of these products.
    Mr. Goldstein continued to head the O/U from 1924 until 1935. Feeling a need for another certifying agency, he started the O/K Laboratories. Today, the O/U, headed by Rabbi Menachem Genack, and the O/K, headed by Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, reliably certify many thousands of products and ingredients that we have become accustomed to using daily. As the complexity of manufacturing processes and the need for kosher certification has increased, so has the number of agencies and individuals interested in meeting this need. This has led to the rise of newer certifying agencies, such as VHM, the Chaf K, Kehilloh, Star K and others. Furthermore, individual rabbis have entered this field, often using their own kosher symbol or even just a plain "K" to designate a product’s kosher status.
    This has caused a great deal of confusion. When there were only two or three certifying agencies, it was easy for consumers to judge their reliability. But today, it may take a great deal of detective work to ascertain the standard that a particular rabbi is using. Consequently, many people prefer to rely on only the well-known certifying agencies, rather than risk the chance that a product may not meet their personal standard of kashrus.
    The O/U, O/K, Star-K and Kof-K are the largest relied upon kosher agencies in the world today.

KOSHER CERTIFICATION INTRODUCTION

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    There was a time when a woman did all her family’s preparation in her own kitchen. Back then, it was obvious that pig’s feet were not kosher, and ice cream was. In the past few decades, however, there has been a revolution in American eating. Almost 90 percent of our food is now processed before reaching our kitchens. With synthetic meats and exotic food additives, artificial pig’s feet could be kosher, whereas the ice cream might not be.
        These developments in the food industry have been paralleled by the growth of kosher certification organizations formed to assure consumers that appropriately processed foods can be bought with confidence.
    As a matter of fact, it has been estimated that approximately one third of all shelf products in our supermarkets are certified kosher. This makes the kosher industry in the U.S. a 30 billion dollars a year business. Although only a relatively small amount of this is dedicated strictly toward the kosher consumer (about $2 billion), the interest in kosher food is rapidly growing. Some adhere to kosher laws from conviction, such as seventh day adventists, Muslims, and vegetarians. However most of the interest comes from people who feel that the kosher certification is their best guarantee that the products and its ingredients are being watched carefully and properly. Some large corporations have found it profitable to acquire kosher companies, such as a recent (1992) acquisition by Sara Lee of the $85 million a year Besin Corp., which produces Sinai and Best products. This trend appears to be on the rise. In the U.S. alone, there appear to be at least 5 million people who buy products based on their being kosher.
    A food manufacturer obtains kosher certification usually by requesting it. The reasons for the request can vary from the company’s own desire to produce a kosher product to appeals from industrial customers or consumers. Sometimes company "A" requests supervision, and in the course of the investigation of its ingredients it becomes clear that Company "B"s products will also require certification. Some certifying organizations solicit companies. Others, such as the O/U, provide certification only upon application by a food manufacturer.
    Once contact with a certifying agency is made, the detective work begins. The manufacturer must supply a complete, detailed list of every ingredient in the product, including preservatives, release agents, stabilizers or other inert ingredients. In addition, every step in the manufacturing process, every cleansing agent used on the equipment and all other products produced on the same premises require close investigation and supervision.
    The certifying agency must track down each ingredient to its ultimate source. If, for instance, the ingredient is meat or a meat by-product, the item cannot be kosher unless the meat source itself is strictly kosher. Wine and wine by-products, cheese, and some dairy by-products (such as whey) present the same problem. Any oil used in the manufacture of foodstuffs has to be traced back to the oil processor. Many vegetable oils are produced in machinery that is also used to process animal fats and oils. The Federal Food and Drug Administration acknowledges that "100 percent vegetable oil" may in fact have a percentage of animal fat in some batches. In such a case, of course, the oil is not recommended.
    Some ingredients with innocuous sounding names need special attention. "Natural colors" have been known to be derived from insects, "softeners" from whale oil, and "artificial flavors" from cats. Therefore, the supervising agency must conduct a complete and intense investigation into the origin of all the ingredients.
    The process by which ingredients are produced must also be carefully checked. In fact, it is necessary to check the processing locations to verify that hygienic standards are not so lax as to allow insects or worms to contaminate the food product. Unfortunately, lax hygiene in food processing is more common than people wish to believe.
    The results of all these investigations are forwarded to the rabbinic authority (or board) of the supervising agency. If changes in ingredients or processes are required, the manufacturer must make the changes before the agency will do further work. Once all is acceptable, the rabbinic authority will determine the amount of on-plant supervision necessary. This information is written into a contract and then sent to the manufacturer. The contract also specifies that the manufacturer agrees to make no changes of ingredients or suppliers without prior written consent of the agency. The actual on-site inspector (mashgiach) will verify that the company is complying with the contract.
    Should the manufacturer cease to comply with the contract, the agency either will see that the necessary changes are made or it will revoke its certification. Because organizations like the O/U or Chaf-K have registered servicemarks, unauthorized printing of these symbols on labels is a violation of Federal law. These certifying agencies have legal redress against possible abuse by manufacturers of their symbols. Some states have laws against falsely advertising that a product is kosher. Also, when reliable certifying agencies know that a particular product will no longer be under their supervision, they will publicize that fact widely. However, these safeguards are not enforceable when only the letter K is used for kosher certification.
    The cost of certification to the manufacturer is minimal. For non-profit agencies, cost depends on the amount of on-site work. Agencies making a profit might have a minimum annual charge and fees depending on the gross annual sales of the product. The individual supervisor (mashgiach) is typically paid for each visit he makes to the plant (He usually receives less per visit than an auto mechanic makes per hour). The mashgiach is paid by the certifying agency and not by the manufacturer. There is usually no increase in the price of the product due to its kosher certification, because the cost of certification is generally met by increased sales. The O/U reports that in over 45 years, fewer than 12 companies discontinued their certification programs because sales did not increase. Thus, kosher supervision benefits the manufacturer and the consumer, who can be confident that foods may be consumed without violating the kosher standards.
    If this were the whole story, this chapter would not be necessary. But the fact is that standards, even of national certifying organizations, can vary significantly. Perhaps our suspicion of the legitimacy of the kosher status of some products can be illustrated most clearly with the following actual letter from a certifying rabbi to a food manufacturer. All identifying information has been deleted. The footnotes explain the problems raised by the letter.

" January __, ____

____________________

____________________

____________________

Dear Mr. ____________,

It was a pleasure to hear from you. I am happy to inform you that I certainly will grant kosher certification to (name of product). You may identify these products with the K insignia.

1 However, I would very much wish

2 to know the names of the suppliers and the ingredients.

3 I expect to be at the ______________ plant during February,

4 and perhaps at that time the manufacturing procedure of these new products

5 could be explained to me.

6 With warm and most cordial wishes for all the best, I am.

Sincerely yours,

Rabbi ________________"

Our notes:

1.  The manufacturer did not need this line to have permission to print a K on the label. The K is not a copyrighted symbol nor even a certification that the product is kosher.

2.  "Wish," not "need"!

3.  The rabbi asks this AFTER stating that the product is kosher. Is he a prophet?

4.  That is, the actual investigation of the product, the manufacturing process, and the ingredients will not be completed for a month. During that time, the manufacturer will with the rabbi’s authorization—be printing K’s on his labels, thinking that it is kosher and misleading the public into believing that the product is kosher despite the absence of evidence. Let us suppose that the rabbi were to discover that the product is absolutely not kosher. What would he do about the thousands of items on grocery shelves? Would he recall them? With what authority? Indeed, one can only wonder whether a rabbi with such lax standards ever tried to recall a product that he discovered was not kosher.

5.  This statement makes it abundantly clear that the timing of the certification before the investigation cannot be explained as a carry-over from a previous year.

6.  We cannot find any reason that a rabbi who has not seen the process or even come to understand it from a phone call would consent to authorize a food producer to label a product as kosher. We feel, therefore, that only someone with very low standards of kashrus would trust any certification by this rabbi.

The K symbol does not always represent this sort of laxity. In fact, there are products labeled with a plain K that are of the highest standoad A prime example of this at this time is Kraft Products. Although Rabbi Levy, from the O/K, is actually the certifier of their K, the company often only allows a plain K to be placed on the label. Unfortunately, the K represents so many things that it represents nothing. The consumer would fare better relying on the several certification emblems on our symbol chart.

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