Canada's Kosher Certifier
What is Kashruth?
Kashruth is the set of Jewish dietary laws, which are of Biblical origin and are expounded in the texts of codified rabbinic legislation; they have been followed for over three thousand years, and are at the core of Jewish identity.
There is a common misconception that kashruth requires all food to have been blessed by a Rabbi. This is incorrect. The kosher or non-kosher state of a product depends on the source of the ingredients and the status of the equipment on which it was processed. Some foods are always accepted as kosher, such as fruits and vegetables, which require no further processing. However, other products may only be kosher if the accepted ingredients are being used, and if the processing is done under Rabbinic supervision.
The Montreal-Kosher Certification Agency
All products must be under the supervision of a kosher certification agency, which is an organization of Rabbis, food technologies, and field supervisors with the expertise and resources to uphold the laws of kashruth. When looking for the right kosher certification, it is imperative to look for one that is generally acceptable, so that the kosher symbol of a product will market to a larger consumer group.
The Vaad Ha’Ir of Montreal provides a universally accepted kosher certification. We take advantage of the latest technologies and software, making it easier to communicate with businesses, and helping in maintaining the strictest standards of Kashruth. The Vaad also provides a hotline for any kosher queries for a business or home kitchen. On our website, www.mk.ca there are lists of kosher products and businesses. However, when first becoming acquainted with the laws of Kashruth, it is helpful to do so with the guidance of a Rabbi or any one of our kosher experts.
A USDA Foreign Agricultural Study found that in one year alone there was almost a 20% increase in sales of Canadian kosher foods. Those that observe certain diet restrictions, whether for religious, ethical, or health purposes have come to rely on the kosher symbol of a product in order to be aware of what raw materials are being used as ingredients. It is becoming better known that checking the ingredients that go into a product is not enough. The kosher symbol has become a sign of safety, ensuring that products do not contain any hidden ingredients derived from dairy or animal bi-products. Even when dealing with all-natural processed products, a visible kosher symbol on the package is necessary, as natural dyes and flavours may come from non-kosher species of insects and fish. Thus, a kosher business means expanding clientele, and reaffirming consumer trust in your products.
The Vaad of Montreal makes running a kosher business easy, keeping all kosher data on a private database called Digital Kosher. This is an automated system for managing ingredients lists, updating to the latest kosher certificates, and ensuring that certified kosher products contain only kosher ingredients. Each kosher product is linked to a kosher certificate through an exclusively-assigned K-ID. The K-IDs are organized in a list known as the product list. Companies must list all raw materials, kosher and non-kosher, to be approved by our personnel before they can be introduced to the facility. Company information is stored in the secure database, accessible only to Vaad Ha’Ir personnel, and with the strictest confidentiality. During facility visits, our Kashruth supervisors compare the database information to the products and ingredients at the plant, ensuring that the businesses are implementing the standards of Kashruth. Digital Kosher thus streamlines the various steps required for kosher upkeep, without diverting attention from the matters of sales and production at hand.
An Introduction to the Laws of Kashruth?
Kosher foods are divided into three categories: Meat, Dairy, and Pareve. One of the basic principles of Kashruth is the total separation of meat and dairy products, which may not be cooked nor eaten together. To ensure this, the kosher kitchen contains separate sets of dishes, utensils, cookware, as well as separate preparation areas for meat and dairy; the Kosher facility must be sure not to use any animal derived substances when producing dairy products, and vice versa. A third category, pareve, is comprised of foods that are neither meat nor dairy.
Meat: All animal products and by-products, referred to as Basar (Hebrew) or Fleish (Yiddish), must come from kosher species. The meat or poultry must also have been slaughtered by a pious Jew who is well acquainted with the laws and traditions of this ritual. This is verifiable by the kosher certification found on the package.
Dairy: All foods derived from, or containing, milk or dairy products are considered Chalav (Hebrew) or Milchig (Yiddish). The milk may not come from a non-kosher animal nor contain animal derived substance. Any pasteurized dairy must also have been processed on kosher equipment that has not been in contact with meat or animal bi-products in any way. Kosher organizations may give products the dairy status in certification, though the products may not evidently be so; this is either because the products have been processed on dairy equipment, or they may contain ingredients derived from dairy.
Pareve: Foods that contain neither meat nor dairy are pareve. This also means that they have not been cooked or combined with any meat or dairy foods. The pareve status of a processed food must be indicated by the kosher certification.
Glossary of Hebrew Terms
Basar (Hebrew), Fleishig (Yiddish): A food that contains meat or any animal or fowl by-products; all meat must come from kosher animals and fowl.
Chalav (Hebrew), Milchig (Yiddish): A food that is or contains dairy products; any milk must come from a Kosher animal.
Chalav Yisrael: Dairy products that contain milk that has been under produced under constant rabbinical supervision from milking through packaging, ensuring that no milk from a non-Kosher animal has been added.
Chametz: Wheat products and other items which are not kosher only during the eight days of Passover
Kosher: Fit or proper; in terms of Kashruth, fit to be eaten and manufactured according to Jewish law.
Hechsher: Certification on processJewish law.ed or previously prepared foods proving the kosher status has been maintained under rabbinic supervision.
Mashgiach: A Jewish supervisor with a strong knowledge of Kashruth, who oversees the processing or preparation of food in a restaurant or business.
Pareve: A food that has neutral status, and therefore contains neither meat nor dairy products.
Shechita: The laws governing the ritual slaughter of animals and poultry; this must be done by a Shochet.
Shochet: Torah-observant Jew who carries out the Shechita.
Shulchan Aruch: Codified rabbinic interpretation with a detailed explanation of the laws of Kashruth, Shabbat, Yomtov, etc.
Treif: Not Kosher, therefore may not be eaten.