Frequently Asked Questions
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WHAT IS KOSHER?
Kosher is a Hebrew word that means “fit”. A food item that is Kosher certified has been certified fit for use in a Kosher diet. Kosher has come to connote being clean, healthy, and above all trustworthy. When a consumer sees an AKC symbol they have a greater level of trust and confidence in your product.
Contrary to popular belief, Kosher certified does not mean blessed by a rabbi. Kosher certification is similar to other certifications in that it ensures the consumer that the food product or facility has been inspected and verified by an independent agency that all components and processes of this food meet Kosher guidelines. The AKC will inspect a facility and determine that its ingredients and equipment are acceptable for Kosher use.
Kosher certification is required for any production company that wants to be able to reach the Kosher market. Whether you are a B2B company or sell retail products, Kosher certification helps you access new customers.
Kosher food is not just for Jewish people. On a daily basis, the vast majority of consumers in America will eat kosher food. Whether it is snacking on Oreos or grabbing a Diet Coke many of the foods that you eat are Kosher certified. This third-party auditing is valuable to many consumers.
Kosher does not mean food grade. Kosher means “fit”. A Kosher-certified product meets all the standards and is therefore “fit” to be eaten by anyone that follows a Kosher diet. In a typical supermarket in the United States, up to 40% of the items being sold are Kosher.
The most well-known Kosher laws are that pork and shellfish cannot be eaten and equipment cannot be shared with non-kosher products. If an item needs to be processed on equipment that has been used for non-kosher the equipment can at times undergo a Kosherization process.
Halal food is not automatically Kosher. Kosher has additional restrictions such as a requirement for dedidicated manufacturing equipment for ingredients used in kosher food production.
Kosher food can also be Halal certified. Oftentimes, you will see a Halal symbol immediately next to a Kosher symbol. Additionally, Kosher standards will often meet and exceed Halal standards.
The most commonly known non-kosher foods are pork and seafood. At a Kosher restaurant or industrial facility those will never be present. Items that are processed on shared equipment with non-kosher are also not acceptable. In addition, meat and grape products need to be processed in very specific ways in order to meet Kosher requirements. In the complex food production system that we have today all food needs to be Kosher certified to ensure that Kosher requirements are met.
Kosher food can not touch non-Kosher food. In order for something to be kosher, it needs to be segregated from any cross-contamination with non-kosher foods. In addition, equipment used in food production needs to be dedicated for Kosher use or undergo a cleaning that meets Kosherization standards.
Kosher Certified means that a product has been verified by an independent agency that it meets Kosher standards. The agency has checked the ingredients, equipment, and production to ensure that this product can enter the Kosher market. Getting AKC certified begins by filling out an application.
A company gets Kosher certification by applying to a Kosher certifier and demonstrating that the product meets and exceeds all Kosher requirements. This is done through Kosher documentation and inspections of your facility. The AKC would love the opportunity to walk you through the certification process. Kosher certification enables you to market your products to retail consumers or manufacturing facilities that are looking to buy Kosher products.
The first step in the Kosher Certification Process is submitting an application. When the AKC receives an application, we will review the ingredient list against our database of ingredients that have already been approved for Kosher. We will then contact you to set up a discovery call so we can understand your Kosher needs. Every company has a different business model and goal for their Kosher program. When we understand your needs we are better equipped to tailor our initial inspection and Kosher requirements in the way that will be most effective for your business.
Kosher certification is the assurance to your customer by an independent agency that your products meet the Kosher requirements. Kosher consumers and Kosher manufactures only purchase items that are certified as Kosher by a recommended Kosher certifier. A Kosher product will have a Kosher symbol on its packaging. It will also be accompanied by a Letter of Certification which is a document issued by the Kosher certifier that this product is certified Kosher.
The following are the steps that are necessary to become Kosher certified:
1. Application – Gather together all required Kosher documentation of your raw materials and products.
2. Discovery Meeting – We will try to better understand your Kosher needs based on your products and your business model.
3. Initial Inspection – A Rabbi will visit your facility to assess what steps need to be taken to make the plant kosher and how frequently the production facility will need to be visited.
4. Agreement and Contract – All costs and Kosher requirements will be included.
AKC Kosher certification connects you to customers that you couldn’t have accessed without certification. In most grocery stores, 40% of the items on the store shelves are certified Kosher. If you want to have a chance to sell to large manufacturers such as General Mills or Post, you must be certified Kosher. In the retail market, your products will have a greater chance of getting on to shelves and being bought by the ever more discerning customers in today’s markets.
A kosher certification agency is an organization that inspects and certifies food production facilities to ensure that they meet Kosher guidelines. Kosher agencies will partner with you to ensure that all your ingredients arrive meeting Kosher requirements and that equipment is dedicated to Kosher production. They will conduct periodic inspections to ensure that all requirements are being met.
Kosher certification costs vary greatly. A small factory close to our headquarters that produces a single product that is simple to certify will have an entirely different cost than a large manufacturing facility located across the country that produces Kosher and non-Kosher and therefore requires a greater level of supervision. Reach out to us to discuss details for your facility. Our fees start at $1,800 a year and go up from there. You will always know your exact costs before deciding to begin certification.
Kosher certification does not have to be expensive. Choosing a regional Kosher certifier will minimize travel expenses and overhead and therefore be the most cost effective route to Kosher certification. The AKC is usually 20-40% less than other Kosher agencies. We strive to work with all businesses so that the Kosher market can be accessible to you.
The cost of Kosher Certification varies greatly depending on frequency of visits and our travel costs. A water company in Atlanta that we might only visit once a year will have a very different cost than a bakery that we are visiting monthly in Mobile, Alabama. That being said, we strive to be as transparent as possible, and we charge an all-inclusive annual fee. You will always know exactly what the price will be before choosing to become certified. We will work with you to structure the payment schedule in a way that works best for your business. There is an initial inspection fee for companies outside of Metro Atlanta.
Going Kosher does not have to be expensive even for a small business. Kosher certification is a relatively small investment in your business and a prerequisite to selling to many of the largest food manufacturers. Choosing a Kosher certifier that is close to your location will minimize overhead and will be much more cost effective for a small business.
Kosher food is certified by a Rabbinic agency that knows the laws and guidelines of Kosher and understands the intricacies of food production. An expertise in food science, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and food technology can be required to understand the details of any particular company. The AKC has on staff experts with decades of experience in assisting companies becoming Kosher.
A Kosher Certificate also know as a Letter of Certification (LOC) is the formal document which attests to the Kosher status of a product. An LOC will be issued by the AKC for each product or company we certify. That proves to the buyer that this is an authorized use of the AKC symbol and the product is indeed Kosher.
To sell your product to a Kosher certified industrial company you will need to be Kosher certified. Your buyer will request a Kosher Letter for your product that they will need to submit to their Kosher Certifier. A Kosher Letter can be obtained by contacting the AKC and starting the Kosher Certification process.
Kosher certification can last for as long as you need it provided that you can continuously show that you meet Kosher standards. There is typically a renewal process once a year and all paperwork is reviewed to ensure that it is up to date. Periodic Kosher Inspections are done to ensure that the ingredients are approved and that there have not been any changes that will impact your Kosher status.
If you are AKC Kosher certified you can put an AKC logo on your product. Our trademarked logo represents to the customer that we stand behind this product. We strongly protect our trademark to ensure that our consumers can be confident in knowing that only an authorized product will be marked as AKC Kosher.
To have the privilege of marking your product as Kosher you will need to go through the Kosher Certification process. This process begins with an application. We will then contact you to better understand your goals and needs and to walk you through the Kosher process.
A restaurant can definitely be Kosher certified. There are hundreds and hundreds of Kosher restaurants throughout the US. For a restaurant to be Kosher certified it will need to be dedicated as Kosher. After receiving an application we look forward to talking to you about the details of your restaurant.
Kosher certification is divided into three types. Meat, Dairy, and Pareve (neutral). In Kosher law, Meat and Dairy items can’t be produced on the same equipment and can’t be eaten together. The type of certification to strive for is Kosher Pareve. Kosher Pareve certification will enable your product to be used in Kosher Meat or Kosher Dairy production.
Your product can be certified as Kosher for Passover if it does not have any grain derived ingredients. Chemicals that are synthetically derived are often eligible for Kosher for Passover status. Products that are made from grain (i.e., varieties of Ethanol) are not eligible for Kosher for Passover status.
At times we can certify one product and not an entire facility. Whether this is something that can meet Kosher requirements will vary greatly from facility to facility. In an industrial setting where separate production lines are in place this might be possible. If non-kosher ingredients are being used on the same production line then it likely cannot be done. Contact us so we can understand your particular facility and see if we can get your Kosher program started.
It is challenging for someone that is operating with a Cottage Food License to become Kosher certified. Kosher requires dedicated production space and equipment. If you are still producing out of your home or in a shared kitchen you can’t yet be Kosher certified. Keep it up! You’ll be able to be certified in no time!
The Kosher market was evaluated at over $19 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to $26 billion dollars by 2026. A large segment of the growth in the industry is due to the many customers that want third party auditors inspecting their food and the added health benefits that they prescribe to Kosher foods.
Kosher makes your product accessible to a broader customer base and attracts potential customers to your product over your competitors product. Kosher certification can be an advantage when trying to get shelf space for your product in large supermarkets.
Kosher is bought by people for a variety of reasons. According to independent market research the vast majority of Kosher consumers buy Kosher for health and safety reasons. They appreciate that their processed food will be audited by a third party. Vegetarians and vegans value the Kosher symbol as a way of ensuring that meat or dairy is not in this product.
When entering a typical supermarket, on average 40% of the items are Kosher. Items such as hummus, yogurt, soda and bread will have a Kosher symbol on their label. These companies have done market research and determined that Kosher Certification is a worthwhile investment for their company.
Chemicals that are used in food production often need Kosher Certification. Some chemicals can be tallow based or be derived from other non-kosher sources. Chemicals such as defoamers and processing aids can be added directly into the food and are considered like any ingredient that requires Kosher certification.
Food Packaging can be Kosher Certified depending on what the packaging is made from. The AKC will inspect your facility to ensure that all coating chemicals that have direct food contact are acceptable for use in Kosher products.
Lipstick or other products that are ingested due to their proximity to the mouth can be Kosher certified. The AKC will ensure that all components, both active and inactive ingredients, as well as any flavorings, are acceptable for Kosher consumers.
Kosher products typically have a Kosher symbol on the packaging so the consumer knows that this product is certified Kosher. Industrial products usually have a Kosher symbol and are accompanied by a Letter of Certification (LOC) issued by the certifying agency that attest to the products Kosher status. When the AKC certifies a product a Letter of Certification is sent to the company. The LOC spells out the requirements that need to be met for this particular product to be accepted as Kosher.
Some crops can be certified Kosher straight from your farm. Carrots, potatoes, and peaches among many other varieties can be easily Kosher certified. Crops that are prone to high levels of insect infestation (i.e., leafy greens) would need to go through a pre-approved washing system and their level of infestation checked to be Kosher certified.
Kosher Pareve means that this product is Kosher and Neutral. In Kosher law meat items can’t be eaten with dairy items. A Kosher Pareve item is neutral and therefore acceptable for use with Kosher Meat or with Kosher Dairy foods.
A honey production facility can easily be Kosher certified. The AKC will inspect the facility to ensure that all flavors and additives are Kosher Certified. We will ensure that the honey is sufficiently filtered to meet Kosher requirements and that all production equipment is acceptable for Kosher use.
The AKC is an Orthodox Agency. It was established by the Orthodox community of Atlanta in the late 1970’s to certify food service establishments as kosher on behalf of the Atlanta community. In the decades since, the AKC has expanded its foodservice division as well as established itself as a leader in the industrial kosher world.
The AKC is an internationally recognized certification. Established in 1979 it has become a leader in the Kosher supervision and certification Industry. It is a member of AKO (Association of Kosher Agencies) and has working relationships with Kosher agencies and Kosher communities in the US and around the world.
The Atlanta Kosher Commission, better known as the AKC, is a Kosher supervision agency that services businesses in the Southeast and across the country. It specializes in helping small businesses connect to the Kosher market. Our focus is tailoring your Kosher supervision to meet your business model and needs.
The AKC is the largest Kosher certifier in the Southeast. We certify thousands of products in companies and facilities in the Southeast and throughout the country.