In an ordinary non-Covid year Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, would have been preparing for the annual post -Kosherfest convention for the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO), of which he serves as executive director. He and other leading rabbis agreed that despite the pandemic related issues such as labor shortages, travel restrictions and more, a major topic would have been the ongoing problem of insect infestation in a growing roster of products.
At a conference for mashgichim and others at the headquarters of the Central Rabbinical Congress (CRC), rabbis from throughout the area heard data and evidence on bug infestation. Rabbi Lipa Klein, CRC’s Executive Director reviewed some of the findings on produce and ingredients. For Rabbi Yoel Klein, who is responsible for production plants, the problem has become all too familiar as it is for Rabbi Sander Paneth who is responsible for ingredients at CRC. “We take our high standards very seriously,” said Rabbi Klein, “and that extends to insect infestation.
Dr. Avrom Pollak, rabbinic administrator for the Star-K in Baltimore, said that his agency was involved in a constant educational process “to train mashgichim in the field to recognize the problem and to assure proper cleaning. “Nothing has changed,” he said except that kashrus personnel have to be educated about the problem.” For Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the COO of the Orthodox Union (OU), it is a wakeup call for consumers to be educated about “standards and hashgochos.” The old Syms clothing chain saying seems to apply here “An educated kosher consumer is the best kosher customer.”