Here We Go: RCA Issues “Glatt Yoshor” Guidelines to Enhance Kosher Food Producers’ Compliance with “Jewish Legal and Ethical Teachings”

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rcaThe RCA yesterday issued a set of guidelines intended to “promote and safeguard ethical corporate policies and behavior, and encourage socially responsible activities in kosher food production.”

The guidelines, known as JPEG (Jewish Principles and Ethical Guidelines) were drawn up by “an expert Task Force,” convened by the RCA. It concluded that “given the responsibility of rabbis to promote ethical conduct and to shun misconduct, and the tremendous increase in rabbinical involvement in supervising food production, the time has come for institutionalizing the ethical standards applied by agencies by establishing consistent and thoughtful guidelines for standards of good conduct. An additional motivation for the step was the conclusion that today’s kosher consumer expects more from the rabbis who supervise products for the mass market.”

The following are among the provisions of the guidelines as stated by the RCA:

• All US kashrut agencies are urged to adopt transparent policies for withdrawing approval from companies engaged in significant wrongdoing.

• Kashrut inspectors should have clear procedures for reporting to agencies on problems they encounter.

• Effective and equitable responses to reports of wrongdoing should be developed and implemented. There should be fair and equitable policies for following up on any problems detected.

• The Task Force also released sample materials to help ease adoption of the guidelines. In particular, they provide sample contract language for agencies to formalize their expectation of companies under their supervision that kashrus approval is dependent on law-abiding behavior, and a sample training module for kosher agency staff

The guidelines include a list of legal offenses which should be considered significant wrongdoing, including

• misleading the consumer

• neglecting the health and safety of the customer, employees, or the public; and

• mistreatment of animals.

We are pleased to note that the Orthodox Union (OU), which is the leading international kashrus supervising agency, and for which the Rabbinical Council of America is the halachic authority, has strongly endorsed JPEG. A number of other national kashrus agencies have indicated their agreement in principle to the issuance of ethical guidelines, and are in various stages of adoption and compliance with many of the provisions of the RCA initiative.

The Task Force was chaired by Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, a prominent expert in the field of business ethics. Rabbi Dr. Meir commented: “These guidelines are an important progressive development in the world of kosher supervision. We believe that in the coming years, effective standards will be a prerequisite for serious kosher supervision agencies to thrive. The generally positive response to JPEG that we have received from leading agencies demonstrates a growing recognition that raising the bar on ethical issues will be part of the continuing professional development that characterizes the kosher supervision industry.”

Other members of the Task Force include its Senior Advisor Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine, a leading expert and university lecturer in business ethics; experts in law (Harvey Blitz Esq., Rabbi Michael Broyde, Rabbi Dov Fischer), in industrial and local kosher supervision (Rabbi Menachem Genack, Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner) and in corporate ethics programs and training (Rabbi Yakov Yellin Esq.)

It is the hope and expectation of the RCA that kosher consumers will play a constructive role in encouraging socially responsible business practices, so that we can all succeed in maintaining and enhancing a kosher marketplace that accords with the highest standards of Jewish ethical teachings.

{Noam Newscenter}


  1. BARUCH HASHEM! its about time chashuveh rabbonim stepped up to correct the ills of the system and reverse the chillul hashem. lets not give more fodder for the anti smits at peta who wanna tear us apart. im glad the rca worked on this issue. Kain yirbu!

  2. What’s with the cynical snarky headline “here we go”? Cynicism and sarcasm do not befit a Torah website, even on issues you disagree with, when dealing with an Orthodox organization.

  3. We owe it to the kosher consumer

    We in the field of Kashrus have accepted a fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the kosher consumer. Therefore, we owe our fidelity to the kosher consumer to uphold and maintain that fiduciary responsibility.

    Executives who face troubling decisions are often confused about how to arrive at the right, moral and ethical course of action. This is not surprising since by definition a “moral dilemma” is one where there is no clear right and wrong, only positives and negatives.

    We should be guided in our moral reasoning by the insight that comes from respecting the moral rights of the kosher consumer; justice to colleagues and peers; consequences and outcomes; explaining and defending to others as well as to ourselves the decisions we make.

    Have I searched for all alternatives? Are there other ways I could look at the situation? Have I listened and considered all points of view of my colleagues and peers, while still maintaining high ethical standards?

    Even if there is sound rationality for this decision, and even if I could defend it publicly, does my inner sense tell me this is right? Will my colleagues, peers, and the educated kosher consumer agree with my rationality?

    Does this decision agree with my religious beliefs and with my personal principles and sense of responsibility to the kosher consumer? Would I want others in kashrus to make the same decision and to take the same action if faced with the same circumstances?

    What are my true motives for this action? Would this action infringe on the moral rights and dignity of others? Would this action involve deceiving others in any way? Would I feel this action was just (ethical or fair) if I were on the other side of the decision? Am I being unduly influenced by others who may not be as sensitive to these ethical standards?

    How would I feel (or how will I feel) if (or when) this action becomes known to the educated

    Kosher consumer? Would others feel that my action or decision is ethically and morally justifiable to the educated kosher consumer? Can I justify my action as directly beneficial to the kosher consumer and to kashrus in general?

    We can stretch and expand our moral reasoning and ethical judgment, and sharpen our ethical sensitivity and moral awareness by thinking through particular dilemmas in light of the above. If we consider all the questions discussed above with real intent and pure motives, then we can be confident that we will come with G-D’s help, to sound and ethical decisions.

    When we achieve clarity as to the issues of the dilemma, we are better prepared to make a decision that is both right and defensible. We must remember that our goal is to achieve an ethical course of action in all areas of kashrus, not to find a way to construct a rational argument in support of an unethical decision.

    Our daily decisions do (at times indirectly) impact the kosher consumer. We live in a world where other concerns e.g. profits etc., often come into conflict with the concern for ethics and principles; and where society is demanding a higher standard of kashrus, and a higher ethic of social responsibility to the kosher consumer.

    We must be willing and able to give the kosher consumer in fact, that which the kosher consumer believes he / she is getting in theory.

    We owe it to ourselves…..we are all “kosher-consumers”.

    Yudel Shain
    Kosher Consumers Union

  4. We should never imply that until the formation of this group kashrus was unethical !!! That is the reason so many of us are cynical of new efforts to promote “ethics.” HaShem’s Torah is the foundation of our ethos and all our maasim. Always have been and always will be. Period. Read Rav Samson Rafael Hirsch’s Sefer The Nineteen Letters and Horeb. Also, read Dayan Grunfeld’s Intro to the Horeb. Then you will finally understand fully how Torah is the foundation of our relationship with HaShem.

  5. Not only is this effort proper and necessary, all Frum organizations and Kashrus supervisions should join together in this project. That Includes Agudas Israel, Lubavitch, Satmar, OK, Star-K, et al.

  6. Was this done under the auspices of any Gedolei Yisroel? If there were it should be reported. Something of this magnitude should only be taken up with the guidance of our highest leadership.

  7. To #2:

    Whether it’s about time or it isn’t, we’re still waiting to hear what chashuveh rabbonim have to say about this.

  8. Let’s face it, b’mechilas kevodom hakoten, thew RCA is always too late with too little. In effect, their pronouncements are of no effect.


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