Record 1,033 Kosher Certifications May Also Leave Customers More Confused Than Ever

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kashrus-symbolsThe Kagans (not their real name) traveling through the Midwest encountered what is no doubt becoming a growing dilemma for kosher consumers. Trying to pacify their three young children, they found candy at a rest stop with a kosher symbol they had never seen before. Husband and wife debated whether the symbol “was reliable” and at two in the morning, “Who would you call anyway?” asks Mrs. Kagan.

With a record 1,033 kosher certifications listed in the latest survey by Kashrus Magazine, published by Rabbi Yosef Wikler, it is no wonder that the Kagans were confused.

Some industry officials see this dramatic increase of kosher certifications and symbols as further proof of an industry that continues to expand.

 In the last seven years, says Kashrus Magazine, the number of symbols has more than doubled. In its 2002 Guide, the publication listed 409 symbols and a mere 44 in 1987 when the number of kosher certified products was believed to number about 16,000. Today, more than 125,000 products sold in the US have some form of kosher symbol.

Rabbi Wikler and other kosher certification sources say that the dramatic increase of kosher symbols may be confusing but it is also “putting the cringe on the generic k” which is even more misleading. Kashrus Magazine itself advises consumers to consult with a rabbi or agency that “you trust” to inquire about the reliability of a given hechsher.

Much of the growth in the kosher symbols is by the growing number of Vaadim (committees) that certify local and regional products and companies. Most large retailers accept products with the recognized symbols of the 5 or 6 major certification agencies but that is not necessarily the case for products that are sold in a given region. For example, California grocers routinely carry products that are certified by some of the state-based agencies. Manufacturers of products that feature certifications from abroad, including Israel, will frequently find resistance by retailers despite having a reliable hechsher.

Many large kosher certification agencies say that their switchboards are often inundated with questions about the reliability of the smaller symbols that are found on products with increased frequency.

{Kosher Today/ Newscenter}


  1. #1

    That’s a dangerous approach to take because it stifles kosher agencies from entering the market. Instead of not accepting new symbols, you should investigate them.

    The guide has contact information for each symbol. In my experience, Mashgichim are very happy to answer your questions about their standards and what goes on at the plant.

    You just need to know what is important for you, and ask the mashgiach what they are careful about.


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