The word Kosher comes from the Hebrew word meaning fit, proper or correct. Kosher foods are those that conform to the set of Jewish dietary laws and are therefore fit for consumption by Jews. The main principles of Kosher have their origin from the Bible and have been observed by Jews for over 3,300 years.
The rules of kosher include specific animals and fish that can and cannot be eaten and anything derived from those beings. Fish must have fins and scales like Tuna, Salmon and herring, having one but not the other is not enough. Animals need to have a cloven hoof as well as chew the cud such as Cows, lambs and buffalos. Non-kosher animals include pig, camel and rabbit. The Torah, Bible, lists only the birds which are forbidden to eat, such as ostriches and vultures. Fowl such as chicken, turkey, certain duck and certain goose are kosher.
Eggs from a kosher bird are Kosher and pareve (neither dairy or meat), but have to be checked that they do not contain a blood spot. Dairy products can only be eaten when coming from an animal that is kosher. Cheese has stricter rules regarding kosher and be default is not kosher and needs kosher supervision but butter, milk and yoghurt are easier to certify as kosher.
Kosher enforces separation of Dairy and meat. Dishes, utensils, ingredients and foods all need to be kept separate. Jews wait for a period of time between eating something which contains meat before eating a dairy product. There is also a division called Pareve which covers foods that have neither dairy or meat or anything derived from these as an ingredient. Pareve products have the best place in the kosher market as they can be eaten with either dairy or meat. A pareve biscuit can be eaten with a cup of coffee after a meat meal but a biscuit containing anything dairy which could be butter, milk powder, chocolate or caramel to name a few, would only be able to be eaten after a break of between an hour and six hours depending on the tradition of that person. Saying that, Walker’s butter shortbread are kosher certified and have a huge kosher market.
There are two levels of kosher for biscuits cakes and breads, regular kosher which can be made by anyone and a higher level called Afiat Yisrael where a Jew has baked the products or at least ignited the ovens for the products to bake. In both cases all ingredients need to be kosher. Rakusen’s biscuits in the UK are Afiat Yisrael as are Ryvita crackers. Gluten free biscuits do not have the same restrictions regarding Afiat Yisrael. Dove’s farm and the majority of Prewett gluten Free biscuits are all certified kosher through us.
As cheese is always non-kosher unless certified, any biscuits, crackers or cakes containing, or made on the same trays as cheese, would consequently make those products not kosher too. This can make savoury biscuits potentially more difficult to certify kosher than sweet ones.
Speaking to Andrew Simpson, Managing Director of Rakusen’s who produce both sweet and savoury kosher biscuits, he says people don’t realise that biscuits are a craft product even when made in factory conditions.
“We’re dealing with live ingredients and things are always changing, even with flour coming from the same mill, it just isn’t always the same and we need to be constantly checking” He also says that for him kosher is a quality reassurance, another set of eyes in the factory and at the beautiful biscuits being made.
To certify any products as kosher a short application needs to be completed with basic details, company name, address, website, if there is any meat, fish dairy or grape used in the factory. Anything derived from grapes can be an issue although raisins are not, plus a short synopsis of the manufacturing process. This should give us enough information, with a bit of research, to ascertain whether or not the products can be certified kosher.
The next stage is to provide us with a list of all the ingredients and some other technical data, one fact important to us is what else is being made in the factory. We look into every ingredient, where it comes from and in most cases, whether that company has a kosher certificate for that particular item.
The ingredients are graded, A1, A2 and A3
A1 are straight forward such as spices, grains, flour, basic sugar, salt
A2 are where various processes are involved like dried fruit, processed nuts,
A3 are more complex like emulsifiers, flavours, chocolate and colourings
People are often surprised at ingredients that are non-kosher like shellac, used to shine over Danish pastries. This comes from beetles so cannot be used and Cochineal also from beetles which is used to make red food colouring.
We need to know what else is made in the factory, and if anything else is made on that particular production line. Any chance of contamination with a food deemed to be not kosher will deem the product to be kosher certified as not kosher too. If milk or yoghurt was used on the same line it would make the biscuits dairy even if this was not an ingredient of those particular biscuits. The only way round this would be to have a 24 hour stop with a kosherisation of the line after, a very deep clean.
We will audit the facility at least once a year checking paperwork as well as walking the floor doing spot checks on ingredients. The amount of audits needed is dependent on what else is being produced in the factory and our concerns over contamination from other products. The auditor will give us a report of his findings, this will be carefully checked with our technical team and we will let you know the outcome.
It is noteworthy that over 98% of the inspections are successful, if a problem does arise you will be informed either by the inspector on the day or by our technical team. For your information, we have virtually never encountered a problem which isn’t rectifiable. The length of the inspection will be dependant on the type and range of product being inspected and the size of the factory. However, you will be given an indication of how long the inspection will be when booking your initial inspection.
“Sharing a factory for Kosher and non-Kosher biscuit production with both productions running simultaneously can bring its challenges. Special clean down procedures need to be followed prior to commencing Kosher production which will be checked by the Rabbi’s keen eye. Dedicated belts will be used for the biscuit moulding machines, the Rabbi will turn on all the ovens in a pre-dawn visit, and dedicated baking trays are used for the Kosher biscuits. Throughout production, the Rabbi will keep his eyes open inspecting all ingredients and watching over the entire process from mixing until packaging. The easy mistakes to spot are when non-Kosher equipment and trays are used in the Kosher production. However, just overseeing Kosher production is not enough to ensure the products are compliant. A discerning and competent Rabbi will observe the non-Kosher production to verify that the dedicated Kosher trays and equipment are not inadvertently used for non-Kosher production and subsequently making their way back in to Kosher production. Upon discovering, by the Rabbi on site and following an investigation as to how it happened, the trays were ceremoniously binned!”
Batch productions are required for the certification of biscuits where there are products or ingredients being made on the line that would deem the products to be certified as non-kosher and where there is no other option. Batch production would mean that a company was only producing kosher for specific customers and the product was not available as kosher in the general market. Kosher batch production is not something we encourage as it does not lead to the best sales from kosher.
Prior to a batch production, all the appropriate paper work i.e. kosher certificates and company declarations would be checked through our technical team as above, this avoids the risk of having to halt a production at the last moment. The auditor will check that all the materials being used in the production match those on the kosher certificates/company declarations. The auditor may carry-out some initial checks and will remain in the factory throughout the entire production. Please note, occasionally there will need to be an additional cleaning procedure prior to doing a supervised “Batch” production, a process called “koshering,” we will contact you if we need to carry-out this process.
Biscuits are one of the most popular snacks worldwide and enjoyed by people of all ages. The thing that people enjoy most about a biscuit is that it can be eaten with anything from a cup of tea or coffee to milk or just nibbled alone. They can be dunked or eaten as is. Biscuits come in many shapes and forms but each one, quite simply, needs the right ingredients mixed perfectly to produce the desired end product.
Kosher certification will greatly help you export your biscuits throughout the world. There is an excellent market for kosher biscuits, both sweet and savoury worldwide.
In the US market approximately 60% of kosher certifiable products are certified kosher and this is growing. In North America, kosher certification has long been seen as a quality certification mark; a sign that a company has received an independent inspection and “It is what it says on the packet”
The USA and Israel are the largest kosher markets followed by France, Canada. There are many other areas of Europe also looking for products with kosher certification specifically in Germany, Holland, Belgium, UK and Italy where there are numerous kosher distributors stocking supermarkets and kosher stores.
To sell into the general market in Israel your products need to be kosher certified. You can only sell your products in the majority of supermarkets if they are kosher certified and the majority of restaurants are kosher too.
Veganism is the fastest growing trend in Israel at the moment with more and more Health food shops and vegan restaurants opening up. There are many KLBD certified products on sale there like, The Bridge, Ryvita, Dorset Cereals and Weetabix. Not all kosher certification agencies are respected around the world but KLBD has always been accepted and we have an ongoing relationship with the kosher decision-makers in Israel where the main kosher body, The Rabanut, accepts KLBD without question.
Once you have finalised your kosher certification you need to start promoting your products into the kosher market worldwide.
Ideally we advise brand owners to certify their entire brand. Then that brand becomes synonymous with kosher and there is no doubt in the mind of the consumer that the products can be eaten although this is often not possible. We also try to co-ordinate with a company before they finalise ingredients and design and build a factory to make sure it will be compliant.
The KLBD logo should be put on all kosher products, this is sometimes too expensive for small companies to do straight away as changes to packs can cost thousands of pounds so we suggest that they inkjet the logo next to the use by date for simplicity.
KLBD help promote their certified companies to make sure they make the most of their kosher certification.
One to one meeting to discuss how to make the most of the kosher market
• Promotion on our active Facebook group (with over 9000 members)
• KLBD Roadshow taking certified products to the UK’s Jewish community with around 10 events a year
• Inclusion on our kosher search app: isitkosher.uk, The App is free to download and works off line. Jews as well as kosher tourists come the UK with the App and local Muslims use it too.
• Promotional article on our website, giving companies the opportunity to write about their company.
• One off Special feature in our monthly Worldwide Distributors newsletter and inclusion thereafter, getting product details on the desk of distributors around the world who are looking for new products.
• Supply a list of UK kosher distributors, shops, and caterers.
• Exhibit products at Kosherfest in New Jersey USA, world’s largest kosher trade exhibition getting them in front of kosher buyers and distributors from around the world.
• Generally, no additional fee for adding new products to your kosher certificate Some services only available once products on sale in the UK
Leading image: Cavan-Images/Shutterstock.com