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Guide to Popular Kosher Symbols

By Giora Shimoni, About.com Guide

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Why are kosher symbols important?

Kosher Certification Food Labels Giora Shimoni

In today's world of prepared foods, ingredients and processing methods are often unclear. For those interested in buying kosher products, it is helpful to have a rabbi who is knowledgeable about Jewish Dietary Laws examine the food to make sure it is kosher. The process of kosher certification assists kosher consumers by differentiating between kosher and non-kosher items. Kosher certification agencies examine the ingredients used to make the food, supervise the process by which the food is prepared, and periodically inspect the processing facilities to make sure that kosher standards are maintained. Different kosher certifying agencies tend to follow different kosher certification standards, some more strict and others more lenient. Products that have been certified as kosher are labeled with kosher symbols. The symbols are printed on the food's package. Kosher symbols are registered trademarks of kosher certification organizations, and cannot be placed on a food label without the organization's permission. Kosher symbols not only ensure that the food is kosher, they also identify the kosher certifying organization that issued the certification. This guide identifies the kosher certifying agencies behind the most commonly used kosher symbols in the United States. More information about each agency, and the kosher standards it maintains, can be found on the agency's site.


OU Symbol of Kosher Certification

In interpreting ancient dietary laws and adapting them to modern technology, different rabbis have different views about what exactly passes as kosher. The OU symbol, belonging to the Orthodox Union, is one of the strictest kosher standards on the market today. The OU has been certifying kosher products for over 80 years. Their first kosher certification went to Heinz. In 1923 Heinz Vegetarian Beans became the first American product to display the OU kosher symbol. In addition, the OU is the world's largest kosher certifying agency. Some of the famous companies that carry the OU symbol include Coca-Cola, General Mills, Heinz, Kraft Foods, Nabisco Biscuit Co., Pillsbury, Procter & Gamble, and Veryfine Products. The OU certifies over 2300 companies with 4500 plants in 70 countries with a total of over 300,000 labels. The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU) 11 Broadway, New York, NY 10004 Phone; (212) 613-8241 (212) 613-8241; Fax: (212) 564-9058 Site: www.oukosher.org