Strengthening Kashrut Standards

OU Kosher combines expertise in halacha with an understanding of modern food production to ensure that kosher food meets the highest quality kashrut supervision.

Thanks to the over 850 rabbinic field representatives located across North America and throughout the world — from Europe to Australia, and from China to South Africa — the OU Kosher symbol now appears on the labels of nearly 70% of America’s kosher certified food products.

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Photo on left: Rabbi Yissachar Dov Krakowski, Director of OU Kosher Israel, signs the OU's first kosher certification in the UAE.
Photo on right: Bartenura Moscato, on display at the Kosher Food and Wine Experience, is one of thousands of wines under OU Kosher supervision.

Kashrut and COVID-19

When the pandemic hit, OU Kosher followed most of the world into remote work, learning how to manage in this new era. And while all else changed, there was one constant: food. And where there’s food, there’s kashrut. Throughout the pandemic, OU Kosher has proudly maintained a virtually uninterrupted inspection schedule of its customers' plants and facilities worldwide. Our more than 850 rabbinic field representatives are stationed in regions around the globe, making the OU uniquely positioned to maintain the highest standards in kashrut.

European Rabbinic Field Representative Samuel Friedman training staff on how to manage kosher production at Froneri Ice Cream's production facility in Frosinone, Italy.

Kosher Education and Support

OU Kosher Community Relations Launched

More than 1,100 people from 23 countries on six continents participated in the new OU Kosher Community Relations Department’s first virtual event in September. The department focuses on education and support for kashrut-related topics.

Resources for Passover

At the beginning of the lockdown, OU added several new how-to Passover kitchen kashering videos to its inventory of Passover resources, along with an in-depth Passover kashering website. OU Kosher also increased support staff and hours of operation, radio appearances by OU administrators, and the distribution of over 80,000 Passover guides. There were also many virtual community educational events.

OU Kosher App: More Than Products

The OU Kosher app has become more than a product search: Its range of resources includes a tevilas keilim guide, a Pas Yisroel list, a guide to bug checking in a variety of fruits and vegetables, brachos, and more.

Answering All Kashrut Questions

The OU Kosher Hotline and Webbe Rebbe email service has been busier than ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, responding to over 200 inquiries a day and increasing to over 800 a day before Passover. Questions range from current certification news to complicated issues requiring real-time assistance.

Kosher Training for the Food Industry

Partnering with an educational resource company, the OU is helping provide resources for all companies producing kosher products under any certification agency. The OU’s commitment to kashrut helps ensure that any kosher product is produced with best kosher practices.

Rabbi Chaim Loike, OU Kosher’s expert in bird species, with a live bird at an Ask OU presentation for Camp Yorah Deah.

Kosher’s Continued Growth: Adding Over 200,000 New Products

Even During COVID-19: Monitoring Thousands of Facilities in 105 Countries

With a remote workforce living and working across the Tristate area, the OU’s Kosher team has continued to coordinate the complex logistics for over 4,000 monthly inspections along with a steady stream of client requests for new products and production process changes. The resources needed to support this extraordinary enterprise include over 850 rabbinic field representatives, an administrative team of approximately 80, plus 60 account representatives.

OU Kosher and Middle East Peace

When the first U.S.-Israel commercial flight to the UAE opened its doors to Israeli tourism, the Orthodox Union was there. In the kitchen, the OU ensured that the kashrut held to the highest halachic standards. Rabbi Yissachar Dov Krakowski, director of OU Kosher Israel,was OU Kosher’s rabbinic field representative in Abu Dhabi, supervising food for the first U.S.-Israel delegation on the first commercial flight from Israel. The Emirati royal court spared no expense to make sure kashrut observers ate as well and as elegantly as anyone else. After seeing the work of the OU in the initial meetings, the UAE made OU the leading kosher certification agency for the UAE businesses now servicing Israeli tourists.

Bringing New Kosher Products to Consumers

The pandemic has not slowed the hundreds of newly certified products each month. These products include food, flavors, medications, and even technology, including hardware that controls GE smart ovens and refrigerators to ensure their Shabbat compliance. Many of these products simply require sourcing of new ingredients, while others require an in-depth understanding of food production technology and chemistry. The OU’s staff includes experts in all of these areas.

A rabbinic field representative inspecting ingredients on labels at Smitty Bee Honey in Defiance, Ohio.

Rabbinical Field Coordinator Rabbi Daniel Sharratt inspects a Califia Farms production facility.

Rabbi Yissachar Dov Krakowski, director of OU Kosher Israel, with Khaled Al Shamzee of MOPA (Ministry of Presidential Affairs - Abu Dhabi) at a dinner for the discussions on the Abraham Accords.
OU Center for Communal Research