Jul 20, 2020

Corflakes Reform brings end to kashrut certificates required for imported foods

One of the difficulties posed to importers of food, specifically the alternate importers of food items rather than the official importers, was the requirement that they provide proof of kashrut to the Rabbanut to get the food items approved for import and approved as kosher. Often the alternate importers were blocked from getting such kashrut certificates due to agreements with the official importers as being the exclusive bearer of the certificate.

The "Cornflakes Reform" of a few years ago was supposed to open up the imports market in order to bring about cheaper prices on food, but this aspect was held up and presented difficulties to the importers and prevented some of the lowering of prices.  The Rabbanut, led by Chief Rabbi Rav Yitzchak Yosef, has now approved the program to exempt the importers from providing proof of kashrut in order to be allowed to import and to get the kashrut approval of the Chief Rabbinate on the imported items.

How will the Rabbanut know something is kosher if the alternate importers do not have to present kashrut certification?

The Chief Rabbinate will collate information about the products being imported and will somehow determine the kashrut. Often the products are already known and certified as kosher, just the alternate importer is not given access to the certificate of kashrut. The Chief Rabbinate often has already seen the kashrut certificate from the original importer, and determining the kashrut won't be a problem. In other situations they will need to find ways to collect accurate information and make a determination. They plan to regularly consult with relevant kashrut experts around the world to make these determinations. At times the products might be made in multiple factories in different places around the world and at times one factory might be certified while another is not - the Chief Rabbinate will consult with the kashrut experts to determine if the items imported by the alternate importers from the other factories is also kosher, even though there is no supervision.
source: Ynet and Kipa

It sounds like it could lead to a lot of complications and complexities, determining kashrut without any supervision. In Europe this is already done to some level by some kashrut organization. Additionally, most of the relevant products are also made in factories under supervision so the determination will need to be made how similar or different the ingredients used in the other factory are and if those different ingredients are a problem or not. It sounds like it should be possible but can be very complicated. 

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  1. "Often the alternate importers were blocked from getting such kashrut certificates due to agreements with the official importers as being the exclusive bearer of the certificate."

    This here is the problem. Kashrus organizations have to be completely independent of the manufacturer or importer. They should certify the product, regardless of who is involved in handling it commercially. (AFAIK, this is how the large kashrus organizations in the U.S. handle it, and I believe if they did what is described here, they could lose their certification trademark.)

    1. so that would mean this is an improvement from a kashrut perspective because now it will be independent? it seems from that aspect it is, but from the aspect of quality of supervision it is a downgrade

  2. What? why would the quality of supervision go down if the kashrus organization is independent of the manufacturer and importer? To the contrary, the kashrus organization has to be free of any financial influence of the manufacturer.

    For example, some kashrus organizations have the manufacturer or restaurant employ the masgiach. But most organizations, at least in the US refuse to do that. The manufacturer pays the organization, who employs the mashgiach. That creates an independence, with the masgiach answerable only to his supervisor at the organization.

    Please explain how there would be a downgrade.

    1. as far as I can tell, the Chief Rabbinate will not be sending mashgichim to check out all these factories around the world. The companies wont be paying for extra supervision in factories that did not previously have it. It seems, and I might be mistaken, that the Chief Rabbinate is going to decide on kashrut based on assumptions and lists of ingredients rather than actual supervision.


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