While there is much overlap between kosher and food safety programs, they have been kept markedly separate. Until now — thanks to the Kashruth Council of Canada and Niagara College’s joint project to develop an efficient way to integrate kosher certification with food safety planning.
The council, a not-for-profit organization, is Canada’s largest certifier of kosher food. Its inspectors are responsible for determining that products made at more than 1,000 facilities across Canada and around the world meet the standards of Jewish dietary laws.
At the same time, most of the world’s leading food retailers and manufacturers participate in the Global Food Safety Initiative, which was created to set international standards for food safety. Ensuring compliance with the initiative’s standards is overseen by the British Retail Consortium and the Safe Quality Food Program, among others.
The Kashruth Council believed integrating kosher standards with the safety requirements already in the guideline documents of those two organizations would simplify business for thousands of companies that want to meet both food safety and kosher standards. (More than 40 per cent of packaged food products sold in the United States are kosher certified, according to market research firm Mintel).
One faculty member and several students from Niagara College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute Innovation Centre worked for six months with the Council to lay out exactly where kosher certification requirements should be included in the safety documents so companies would only have to check one source to review safety and kosher requirements.
In most cases, adding a few words to a safety standard was all that was required. This safety requirement from the British Retail Consortium: “The site shall have a demonstrable meeting program which enables food safety, legality and quality issues to be brought to the attention of senior management at least monthly and allows for the resolution of issues requiring immediate action,” only needed the word “kosher” added before “quality” and “kosher certifier” added after “senior management,” to combine the two standards.
Amended guides for both the British Retail Consortium and the Safe Quality Food Program have already been published. “We are always looking for ways to make kosher certification more efficient and effective for our kosher certified companies, and we are hopeful that this project will do just that,” says Rabbi Sholom H. Adler, the Kasruth council’s director of Industrial Kosher.