The website Kashrut.com is warning those who keep kosher to beware of fraudulent symbols purporting to signify kosher certification, particularly in India.
Arlene Mathes-Scharf, the site’s publisher whose bio states she is a food scientist, issued the warning with images of eight symbols—many of which are generic logos, but one closely resembles a legitimate, Teaneck, N.J.-based kosher certifier, Kof-K.
“These ‘bogus’ kosher symbols are some of the ones offered by companies, many in Asia particularly India that sell ‘certification’ services. (No recognized rabbinical certification is behind these certifications),” per the website. “One should never rely on a symbol, but verify that it is a reliable agency.”
The Orthodox Union kosher division declined to comment on other organizations’ kosher symbols and Kof-K, which appeared to have its symbol forged, did not respond to a JNS query.
Rabbi Sholom Tendler, who is responsible for overseeing several facilities and who conducts kosher-organic inspections for the Baltimore-based kosher certifier Star-K—one of the country’s largest and most prominent—told JNS that there are two concerning issues.
It is not uncommon for others to use Star-K’s trademark symbol without authorization, he told JNS. “However, we are not necessarily seeing a rise in these incidents.”
“What is more common is use of bogus symbols that are simply as stated—bogus symbols that claim kosher. This kind of fraud is difficult to quell, especially in some of the foreign countries where they are coming from,” Tendler said.
He advised kosher-keeping consumers to learn to recognize reliable kosher symbols.
“As we all know, if you see something, say something. If something does not look right, it’s not a product that is typically kosher or the symbol is not the way it usually looks, call the agency behind the symbol,” he said. “Verify that the item is indeed validly certified.”
KCI Kosher, the most easily identifiable label in the Kashrut.com list, did not respond to a query from JNS. Rather than naming its rabbinic supervisor or administrator, its website provides a definition of the meaning of “rabbi.”