Debugging of Lettuce Highlight of AKO Conference(New York)
The certification of bagged lettuce (to assure that they do not violate Jewish law by having bugs on them) was the subject of one of the key sessions of the annual Convention of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) on November 17 th at the national headquarters of the Orthodox Union. More than 70 Kashrus officials representing 55 international members of AKO attended the post Kosherfest convention. The two-hour session on lettuce was led by Rabbi Moshe Heineman of the Star-K, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky of the OU, Rabbi Shlomo Gissinger of Ches-K, Rabbi Lenny Steinberg of the OU, as well as the certifying rabbis at Bodek.
In an article in Kashrus Kurrents, a newsletter published by the Star-K Certification of Baltimore, Rabbi Tzvi Rosen hails the contemporary practice of washing and treating lettuce. He writes: “Aggressive washing and chemical treatments in the wash water removes and reduces the risk of the introduction of spoilage bacteria and pathogens. Fortunately for the kosher consumer, the same techniques that reduce bacterial presence will also remove toyloim, infestation.”
In addition to lettuce certification, the convention reviewed many important issues, according to Rabbi Sholem Fishbane of the Chicago Rabbinical Council who heads AKO. The convention opened with a message from Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union. The deliberations included a comprehensive review of European standards in kashrus, new concepts in food technology and how it affects innocuous ingredients, possible hazards to a mashgiach in tasting the various bittering agents in food processors, the concern of supplying the public with Pesach information without thorough visitations to the manufacturing facility, challenges and suggestions in certifying restaurants and caterers, values and standards of a mashgiach, and being more effective through the use of the Universal Data Base.
In addition to representatives of the OU, participating agencies at the meeting included the Star K and OK Labs, and rabbinical groups and Vaadim from all over the United States, Canada, and even London, England, as well as other interested observers.
Hmm...I wonder what kind of salad was served for lunch that day. I mean, a two-hour session on lettuce and bugs might not leave you with much of an appetite!