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An Overview of Certification

A Kosher Certification can be compared to a Quality System or ISO audit and is not a trivial exercise. For a product to gain Kosher Certification its complete Bill of Manufacture must be Kosher Certified including manufactured products purchased in as raw materials by a manufacturer. While we endeavour to streamline the process, due to its rigorous nature a Kosher Certification may take a number of weeks.

The Kosher Certification Process

There are essentially three steps to the Kosher certification process.

  1. The manufacturer is provided with a certification checklist that needs to be completed. This provides Kosher Australia with key information for subsequent audits and also flags any area that can be resolved beforehand. The information in the checklist also assists in positioning the product with consumers and other manufacturers once it has been Kosher certified.
  2. A preliminary site audit.
  3. Based upon the data from the checklist and the audit, the Rabbinic Board determines the conditions for certification. Once the manufacturer implements any requested changes, they sign a formal service level agreement with Kosher Australia. This authorises the manufacturer to use our logo and their products are would included the various food guides that Kosher Australia issues for local and international use for both consumers and food services.

Download certification flow chart

A typical blanket certification for a single facility will cost between $AU 1500 to $AU 3000, but this is dependant on the actual conditions of the certification as stipulated by the Rabbinic Board. Blanket certificates are generally only granted for a 12 month period.

As Kosher Australia is a not-for-profit organisation, charges are merely to cover costs.


What Does ‘Kosher’ Really Mean?

The term “Kosher” means “proper” or “fit”. It has nothing to with any Rabbinical blessing. Kosher laws are based on principles set forth in the Bible with elucidation in Rabbinic literature such as the Talmud and the Code of Jewish Law.

All foods and their components and derivatives are divided into 4 categories:
1. Meat
2. Dairy
3. Parve (Neutral)
4. Non-Kosher: includes mixtures of Meat and Dairy, and mixtures of Meat and Fish.

These categories are explained below.

1. Meat.

This includes a
nimals that chew their cud (generally cattle and sheep) and have split hooves, and all species of poultry.

The animals must be slaughtered in a prescribed manner by a trained ritual slaughterer (“shochet”). The meat must then undergo a soaking and salting procedure to remove the blood (“Koshering”). The entire procedure must be performed under the supervision of a Rabbinic supervisor (“mashgiach”).

2. Dairy
This includes milk and all its derivatives. Even a very small amount of meat or dairy (or their derivative) in a product gives that product a “meat” or “dairy” status. Furthermore, food processed with heat on equipment previously used for a dairy product, acquires dairy status.
Milk from a non-Kosher animal (e.g. pig, camel) is not Kosher.

3. Parve (Neutral)
Everything Kosher that does not fall under the above two categories i.e. neither meat nor dairy. Included under ‘parve’ are eggs, plants, and Kosher fish (with fins and scales).

While meat and dairy products and their derivatives may not be mixed or eaten together in any amount, ‘parve’ (neutral) products can be mixed with either meat or dairy products.

Fish is an exception: it may not be mixed with meat.

4. Non-Kosher
There are two categories of non-Kosher:

A. Intrinsically non-Kosher

1. All animals that do not chew their cud or those that do not have split hooves.
2. Most birds outside of poultry.
3. All animals that have not been slaughtered, soaked, salted and inspected according to Jewish Law.
4. All shellfish.
5. All insects.
6. All grape derived products that have not been supervised by a Rabbi.
7. All hard cheese products that have not been supervised by a Rabbi.
8. All mixtures of meat and dairy ingredients and their derivatives.
9. All mixtures of meat and fish.

B. Non-Kosher processing methods

This may apply to food and ingredients whose manufacture includes heat processing, i.e., spray-dried products, reacted flavours, production of fatty acids, canned foods, etc. If the equipment has been previously used for non-Kosher products, it renders any Kosher product non-Kosher. The Kosher product is viewed as absorbing the non-Kosher material from the walls of the vessels. However, if the equipment undergoes a special cleaning process called “Kosherisation” under supervision of a Rabbi, it can then be used for Kosher products.

There are a number of categories of ingredients:
1. Ingredients that can never be Kosher: e.g. civet, castoreum, carmine, and ambergris.
Ingredients that are presently not available in Kosher form:  e.g. natural cognac oil.

Given the small number of items in the two preceding categories, the overwhelming majority of basic ingredients may or may not be Kosher, depending on their origin and processing history. Consequently, they require Rabbinical supervision to ascertain that their origin is indeed Kosher, and whether they are meat, dairy, or parve.

All ingredients require Rabbinic certification if the finished product is to be Kosher certified:

Products that may be derived from an animal source:
1. All oils and fats
2. Natural fatty acids and their esters e.g. palmitic, steartic, oleic and pelargonic acids
3. Polysorbates, sorbitans and all emulsifiers
4. Amino acids
5. Hydrolysed and vegetable proteins
6. Glycerol and compounds thereof
7. Enzymes
8. Enzyme modified products
9. Whey
10. Vitamins

Products that have or may have a grape origin:  
1. Juice concentrates
2. Wine
3. Enocianine
4. Natural cognac oil
5. Fusel oil
6. Amyl alcohol and esters
7. Ethyl alcohol
8. Natural acetaldehyde
9. Vinegar

Ingredients that are dairy or may have a dairy origin and will cause a product to be dairy:
1. Milk solids
2. Lactose, casein and derivatives
3. Cream and derivatives
4. Starter distillates
5. Whey and derivatives
6. Fatty acids from butter or cheese, e.g. caproic acid

Passover Guidelines
Passover, an eight-day festival in March/April each year, has an added restriction against the consumption of any food that contains ‘leaven’. In addition to the above restrictions, the following and their derivatives may not be used for Passover unless they have specific Rabbinic certification for Passover:

  1. Wheat
  2. Rye
  3. Barley
  4. Oats
  5. Spelt
  6. Corn
  7. Legumes (soy, peanut, etc.)
  8. Rice
  9. Mustard

Note: Derivatives that include the following are also prohibited for Passover without specific Rabbinic certification for Passover: Alcohol, beer, dextrose from wheat or corn including their derivatives (such as sorbitol).

Moreover, all products requiring Passover certification must be manufactured under Rabbinical supervision.