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Tuesday, 31 October 2006

But is the Heksher Kosher? Half Moon K

I was reading Jewish Blogmeister today and I came across his post on Campbell's Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

What JB wrote:

"When Campbell soup decided to go kosher it certainly made waves in the Jewish community. Although it was but one type of soup, namely their "vegetarian vegetable soup" that now had kosher supervision it was certainly a good start. I had used this soup on a variety of occasions when baking it with my gefilte fish.

The OU has announced that Campbell's Soup had dropped it's supervision. I figured Campbell's decided it didn't pay off and decided to drop the Kosher concept. I was surprised to see they didn't drop the idea but moved to another kosher supervision company: half moon K. There is quite a difference between the reliability of these two hechshers and I'm sure the new supervision is quite less expensive so that may explain the switch. At this point I will have to find something else to take it's place. "

Now I'm not trying to stir up a bees nest but..
I replied:


Interesting wording that OU used in its Kosher Alert.
"Product no longer certified as kosher by the Orthodox Union. Product bearing the OU symbol was manufactured prior to the termination of the kosher certification and is kosher."
Might have been more informative to have stated that 'OU is no longer certifying this product as kosher'
[Just a slight change in wording from Certified to certifying]
Sometimes you ask yourself is the Kosher authority looking after your interests with regards 'what is Kosher' or their interests as in what they still certify??
To see an update on Halfmoon see here
regards Aaron


Then I got thinking... well what's happening now with Campbell's Vegetarian Vegetable Soup is it Kosher or not?......

....So The Certifying authority Half Moon K, we all know they aren't as big as OU , and there has been questions raised in the past with regards to products under their supervision, but does that mean this brings issues of Kasrut doubt now?

ie. Does Campbell's soup now become not Kosher? Half Moon K now supervise it, is their Heksher Kosher now?

Now I have a lot of respect for JB, and when he says something I listen. But I also have a lot of respect for organizations which have as their central mission not to derive profit from a service.

What to do?

Send them a letter and see what they say.

...and that's what I've done.

Here's the list of questions:

In January 2004 the Jewish Journal carried a cover story on the Half Moon K.

In this article you gave insight into the enormity of checking Half Moon hekshers, your organization said
"after three years of working on the project... about 80 percent of Half-moon hekshers are now reliable"

I've seen posted as a comment:

To the effect: "there in lies the problem, how can 80 percent of the items showing the Heksher be reliable.

1.Why were they given hekshers in the first place if they aren't/weren't reliably Kosher?"
(This seems to be a very good question. )

2. It's been 2 more years since you gave the assurance that 80% was kosher, is The Half Moon Heksher now 100% trustworthy?

3. I've read about the use of Gelatin and Carmine in food and how attitudes may have changed, but doesn't the trustworthiness/strength of an Heksher be in its weakest link? Surely for a Heksher to be 'respected' by the community it must have consistency.

4. Not ignoring the importance of checking with your Rabbi, If you have to ring a phone number, check with a Rabbi, etc doesn't this make your Heksher redundant?

5.Are those products not reliably 100% 'Kosher' planned to be thoroughly checked?
If so when do you expect to complete your checking?

6. Do you supply a list of the status of products with your Heksher?

7. Is there anything that Half Moon K would like to ensure the public understands?

I'm looking forward to getting a response, I'll keep my readers posted.

In the mean time if any readers have thoughts on this subject feel free.

- Whilst I have tried to present correct information,
With issues of Kashrut please refer to your Rabbi. -

References and further reading:
Jewishblogmeister: Campbell Soup: Kosher?
Koaoa: Kosher.org
OU Kosher Alert regarding: Campbell’s Vegetarian Vegetable Soup [Aug 30]
Kosherquest.org: Home
Kosherblog.net: January 2006 Update on Half Moon K
Kosherblog.net: Half-Moon-K getting up to snuff [2004]
Jewish Journal: A More reliable Kosher [2004]
When Campbell's originally obtained the OU heksher: Press release
Campbells: Campbell Announces Its First Kosher Soup

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