Twenty-first century kosher supervision must maneuver through a maze of fast-paced marketing, technology that often becomes obsolete just as we master it, and a changing economy that often forces consumers to choose between cost, quality, and conscience. Two generations ago "what you saw was what you got." Today, one can, thanks to the wealth of processed food products, and yet fully within the parameters of the highest levels of kosher supervision, eat a meat "cheeseburger," a dairy "cheeseburger," or a pareve "cheeseburger!"
A major clothing retailer advertises that "an educated consumer is our best customer." Our doctors challenge us to ask questions and tell us to further educate ourselves through various websites and second opinions. As consumers of kosher foods, we need not become rabbis, mashgichim, or kosher food scientists, but we must acquire basic kashrus knowledge and education. Today, there are well over 1,000 kosher certification agencies worldwide! How can the ORB determine which ones to recommend? We generally follow the guidelines of the major national organizations such as the OU, the Star-K, the cRc, and the Kof-K. They already invest money and manpower researching the halachic and systemic integrity of other organizations. We rely on our own knowledge of various organizations as well. One thing that has no place in determining the reliability of a kashrus organization is politics; our goal is to maximize valid kashrus choices and opportunities while remaining squarely within the bounds of Torah and halacha.
Kashrus agencies that the ORB does recommend follow normative, mainstream Jewish law as set forth in the Shulchan Aruch and its derivative Codes. Well-trained and experienced rabbis carefully establish and monitor systems that guard these laws, have a strong working relationship not only with their clients' management staffs but also with experts in the industry. These agencies continuously update the knowledge and expertise of their core staff and their field representatives. They maintain a strong system of checks and balances regarding the integrity of the products and operations they supervise and the systems they maintain. Even the managing rabbis are subject to regular review and oversight to insure that they are not inadvertently overlooking facts or misjudging issues.
Those agencies that the ORB does not recommend fall into five categories. Either:
The ORB endeavors to maintain stringent yet realistic standards, both in terms of items manufactured under its supervision as well as the myriad bakeries, restaurants, caterers, and eldercare facilities that we manage. Our mashgichim undergo rigorous training, both
before and during the course of their employment, and our rabbis maintain a program of continuing kashrus education as well as regular contact with senior rabbis from the major national and international kosher supervisory agencies. We encourage our constituency to
contact us with questions, issues of interest or concern, and suggestions. You, too, can be the ORB's eyes and ears when it comes to preventing, discovering, and resolving kashrus situations.
One last point: a plain "K" is not a kashrus symbol. It merely means that someone (who may or may not be reliable) claims to provide kosher supervision to a product or a company. Also, neither "©" nor "®" are kashrus symbols. These are, respectively, a copyright symbol and an acknowledgment of a registered trademark.