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Consumers equate kosher with food safety


February 1, 2012
By Canadian Pizza

Topics

February 1, 2012, Brampton, ON – Kosher is capturing a growing share of
the food market as consumers of all faiths put their trust in food
products prepared according to Jewish tradition, according to Richard
Rabkin.

February 1, 2012, Brampton, ON – Kosher is capturing a growing share of
the food market as consumers of all faiths put their trust in food
products prepared according to Jewish tradition, according to Richard
Rabkin.

Rabkin is the director of marketing and business development with the
Kashruth Council of Canada, the largest kosher certification agency in
the country. Speaking at a Guelph Food Technology Centre (GFTC)
innovation breakfast on Jan. 25, he explained what it means for a
product to be considered kosher.

Meaning “fit for consumption,” the term kosher comes from the Bible,
which lays out animals that are not fit to be eaten, including pigs,
rabbits and shellfish. Other Jewish legal works, including the Talmud,
expand on this list and detail how kosher foods should be prepared. For
example, a trained rabbi must slaughter meat from kosher animals, dairy
and meat products are to be kept separate at all times, and production
processes must remove all traces of insects, which are considered unfit
for consumption.

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Rabkin explained that in order for an item to be considered kosher,
every single ingredient and ingredient component that goes into it must
be kosher. But, he warned, sourcing all kosher ingredients is no
guarantee that your operation is putting kosher products on the market.
Non-kosher “flavour” can be conducted from equipment or machinery to
food, contaminating kosher products and making them off-limits to
religious adherents. Even steam from a non-kosher product can render an
otherwise acceptable product non kosher. A single facility can
produce both kosher and non-kosher products, but Rabkin said that staff
must take steps to fully isolate the kosher production and adhere to a
rigorous cleansing regimen if moving kosher production to a non-kosher
area.

Rabkin credited the strict rules governing kosher food production with
prompting consumers from all walks of life to pick kosher products. His
presentation highlighted the results of a 2009 Mintel survey that found
just 14 per cent of kosher purchasers were following kosher religious
rules. In fact, he explained, the bulk of kosher buyers (62 per cent)
cited food quality for their choice, while smaller but still significant
proportions said “general healthfulness” (51 per cent) and food safety
(34 per cent) drove their purchasing decisions.

Also of note, Rabkin highlighted that a full 10 per cent of kosher
purchasers adhere to other religious restrictions similar to those
kosher imposes. Halal followers in particular tend to purchase kosher
products, although this choice doesn’t run both ways. According to
Rabkin, many consumers picking kosher products for religious reasons
tend to shy away from halal products due to their less stringent rules
around cleaning procedures.

The innovation breakfast was held at the Pearson Convention Centre in
Brampton, Ont. For information about the GFTC’s innovation breakfast
series, visit http://www.gftc.ca/special-events/.

 
 Richard
Rabkin, director of marketing and business development with the the
Kashruth Council of Canada, addressing attendees at the GFTC innovation
breakfast on Jan. 25.