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March 2007 Issue
Yitz The Trucker: Kosher Trucking
|Plus: Insects In Broccoli, El Al, Imaginary Hashgacha, How To Tell Who's Who|
Imaginary Hashgachos or How To Tell Who's Who in Kosher Certification -
There are so many kosher certifications now being used by kosher-certified companies that the consumer has already been imagining them into being. Take the following as an example.
There is an obviously Russian product for sale that bears a “K” inside a Q. This does not have the same appearance as Rabbi Aryeh Spero’s Quality Kosher symbol (a Chof inside a Q). Still, it has a “K”. Perhaps that means kosher, or so goes the logic, but not the fact.
Imported stouts, both flavored and unflavored, have been spotted displaying an “OK”. They do not have a “K” in a circle, but rather they have an “O” next to a “K” with a plus sign following. But it says “OK+”; so isn’t that okay?
No, it is not “OK”-certified.
Sometimes a company makes up its own version of the kosher logo and it does not look like the regular one. They may write out “OU”, not using the “OU” symbol of a “U” in a circle, or they may use a funny, styled “K in a circle for an “OK. This causes people to doubt that there really is kosher-certification. Such questioning is appropriate, as with over 500 products being mislabeled each year, we do have to check each package when shopping.
But the new problem is the trusting soul himself/herself., The person who imagine seeing kosher in every “K” on the label. Almost daily we deal with consumers who want to know whether a certain symbol is a kosher symbol or is just a designer “K”.
As a rule of thumb, let us all assume the position: it is not a kosher certification unless verified.
What Can I Do?
Rather than calling a kashrus agency which could not possibly have complete information on all of the large number of products being sold today, contact the company itself that makes the product. On each and every package there is identifying information as to which company made the product, often including a contact telephone number or at least a street address, city, and state for the company. Get the number from information and then call and ask whether the product is kosher certified and by whom. Then, and this is the key question, ask if they could please send/fax/email to you the “letter of certification” from that rabbi or kashrus agency. You can also ask for the telephone number of the rabbi or agency and then double check with him/them.
Which Kashrus Agencies Can Be Trusted?
This is THE question. Everyone has it but very few act upon it properly. The way to know, as with all complicated issues in life, is to seek proper advice. You will not become a doctor when your toe hurts, but will have to trust someone trained. You can ask questions, volunteer information and monitor what is done, but you will not really be able to know what should be done based upon your feelings or knowledge in other areas of life.
The same is with kashrus. The people who know what is reliably certified are those in the kashrus field. You will have to tie into them if you have any hope of deciding what to eat and where to dine.
But how can I find someone to help me?
Sit down and decide yourself or with the help of your rabbi which kashrus agency you believe is 100% beyond reproach, the one that you feel is as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Then select several products found on your shelves and call up the kashrus agency you have selected. Ask them whether they allow the products you’ve just pulled from your shelves to be used in their restaurants/catering halls, etc.
When you call, be sure to get the name of the rabbi to whom you speak and be sure to speak with a rabbi, not just the person who answers the phones. Identify yourself by name. Next time you call ask for that rabbi and give your name again. It won’t be long until you will have your own personal kashrus insider to lead you in the way you wish to go.
How Can I help Those in My Community?
Believe it or not, almost no one ever acts on this question. In fact, if just 1% of the people tried to affect the spread of kashrus information, at least 80% of the mislabelings would never happen. People who care are the ones that keep kosher agencies on their toes. It has a domino effect.
Community kashrus information must be shared not just by classes for the masses — a good idea — but by grassroots mini organizations intent on safeguarding members and affecting change community wide
Recently a federal investigation was made because one community tried to upgrade kosher and a restraint of trade issue developed. Obviously we must all live within governmental guidelines, but it is amazing to realize the power of the kosher observant. Our desire to protect our standard of kosher was so powerful that the federal government needed to investigate whether the law is being followed.
Rabbis must work with congregants, and principals with their yeshiva families to create community standards, at the highest common denominator.
The Definitive Glossary of Kosher Terms -
The complete article contains 94 kosher terms, from A to Y (sorry there is no Z). Here you have A-C. Interested in hte full glossary of kosher terms, order issue #133, January 2007.
Akum— non-Jew (literally, a pagan, but halachicly applies often to any non-Jew). See bishul akum, cholov akum, and pas akum.
Baal Habayis — literally, master of the house. The term is used to signify the owner of the house or to differentiate non-rabbi from a rabbi.
Baal Simcha — literally, master of the simcha, festive occasion. The host.
Badatz — Bes Din Tzedek. A rabbinic organization created for religious purposes, often granting kosher certification. Until recently, used only in Israel, but the term is finding its way here too.
Bedika— an examination by a mashgiach, usually as in an examination of a slaughtered animal or fowl. See bodek.
Beis Yosef—Rav Yosef Karo, 16th century author of the Shulchan Aruch. He is also called Maharan (our rabbi) or The Mechaber (the author). Beis Yosef Glatt means that there are no adhesions to the lung whatsoever. Sepahardim and Ashkenazim differ on the necessity of Beis Yosef Glatt.
Bidieved — after the fact, the halachic “bottom line”. Contrast with lechatchilah.
Bishul — the cooking process. See the following two entries.
Bishul Akum — food cooked by a non-Jew. Also called bishul nochri.
Bishul Yisroel — food cooked by a Jew.
Bodek — one who examines. Although used often with regard to checking slaughtered meat/chicken, a bodek may also examine fresh produce. See bedika.
Bitul— nullification of the forbidden, rendering a food “kosher”.
Botul— something which has been nullified. Often used as botul b'shishim (nullified in sixty) or botul b’rov (nullified in a simple majority). Some forbidden foods are nullified in the majority or in 60:1; others are never nullified.
Chalak — smooth, another term for glatt kosher. See glatt kosher.
Chelev — forbidden fats in meat. Must be removed by competent menaker.
Cholov Akum— milk produced by non-Jews. Also called cholov nochri or cholov stam, but there are halachic differences between these two terms.
Cholov Yisroel — milk supervised by a Jew in production. Milking must not be started before the Jew is present.
Chalav Stam — milk produced by non-Jews but considered acceptable by some authorities because of the tight governmental control of the milk industry in this country. In most other countries, it is thought that milk must be cholov yisroel.
Chalah — small amount of dough removed from a batch. Originally, chalah was eaten by a cohen. Today, we burn it. The same word, chalah, is used for the Shabbos/Yom Tov bread.
Chodosh — the new crop of grain (spring wheat). Originally, chodosh was forbidden by the Torah until after Pesach (when it is then called yoshon, the old crop). Its status today outside of Israel is open to various opinions. Actual chodosh grain is prohibited even outside of Israel, but with the double doubt as to whether a product is made from winter or spring wheat and whether that spring wheat is from this year’s crop or last year’s, many authorities are lenient outside of Israel. All kashrus agencies require yoshon status for products of Israel. See yoshon.
Chometz — any leavened food made from the five species of grain (wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt). It is absolutely forbidden during Passover.
Chumrah — a stringency as opposed to halacha, the law.
Chutz La’aretz — outside of Israel. Mitzvos that are dependent upon the land of Israel do not apply Biblically.Glossary continues from pages 54-57.
Serious Problems in the Trucking of Kosher, as told by Yitz the Trucker -
This is the introduction to the penetrating article written by Yitzchok Vann, a Shomer Shabbos trucker baased on his delivery at the AKO Conventionin 2006 before the Association of Kashrus Organizations. The entire article is on pages 26-34 in issue #133. A great read.
My objective is to discuss the kosher supervision of bulk liquid food grade tanker trailers and containers used for the holding of and transporting of kosher liquids such as oils, milk, cream, liquid eggs, butter, margarines, shortenings, chocolate, flavorings, beef fat, and any and all food grade products that are contained in or hauled by tankers in a controlled heated or chilled environment.
This will include the supervision of:
1. The cleaning process and koshering process of liquid bulk tankers,
2. The loading of certified kosher and non-certified kosher products,
3. And the delivery of certified and non- certified kosher products.
I am here to inform the rabbinical organizations in this room, as well as all other supervisory organizations that are responsible to assure that the certified kosher products they are using and are consuming are indeed kosher lechatchila as compared to kosher bi’dieved, that there are indeed situations that are ongoing and unchecked and may be jeopardizing the foods thought to be kosher lechatchila to the kosher consumer.
My name is Yitzchak ben Avrohom and Shirley Vann, grandson of Reb Boruch Vann, zt”l, and great grandson of Reb Issur Reznick, zt”l, founder of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim. I am also the grandson of Nettie Cancro who worked in kosher bakeries and cooked in kosher homes insuring full compliance with kosher law. I am also known on the Nachum Segal radio programs (“JM in the AM”, and the “Afternoon Program”) as Trucker Yitz.
And while there are some Shomer Shabbos long haul truckers and there is a Shomer Shabbos tanker driver in NY driving a tanker used exclusively for Kedem wines, I might be the only or one of the only Jewish truck drivers that works with a very large non-Jewish trucking company handling kosher liquids in their raw or finished status.
I should clarify that to say that there are Jewish drivers in the trucking business, and Orthodox as well, some in reefer operations and deliveries, some in dry freight – being food or non foods – and some in special hauling such as moving companies, car hauling etc. But as to bulk food grade hauling I might be the only one that is known as a Shomer Shabbos trucker. (Editor’s note: Reeferis slang for a conveyance, such as a railroad car or truck trailer, that carries cargo under refrigeration.)
I am considered an owner-operator of a power unit – a tractor – and I lease this tractor to a trucking company that has the trailers and the work load for them.
Educated Plant Personnel Help Kashrut
In the trucking business, the food processing business, the tanker washout business, and in the food retail and food service business, the general belief by the uninformed non-Jew is that the rabbi “blesses” the foods or tankers or washout equipment. This is a terrible setback for us, as they may truly feel they have done kosher properly since they have seen their rabbi walk through their plant, offices, service business etc...and do their annual “blessing”.
Yes, annually seems to describe the standard lapse of time between visits of some rabbis to their facilities. And for this yearly visit and annual fee they are now kosher-certified. How amazing it is that, all too often, the supervising rabbi has no idea of what’s happening, on a daily or hourly basis, let alone from one minute to the next minute.
The article continues from page 27 to page 34 in issue #133.
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