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There are a vast array of symbols for kosher foods, many among them internationally accepted and many of them locally established, especially in the different states in the US. Some of the symbols internationally recognized are the OK Kosher Certification, the OU Symbol of Kosher Certification, KOF-K Symbol of Certification, and the Star K Symbol of Kosher Certification. These symbols represent the organizations that determine whether or not a certain food is prepared according to the laws of the Torah. Some of the kosher symbols are limited to a country like France and Germany; others are accepted on a continental level, such as Europe. There are more than 100 kosher symbols all over the world.
The Organized Kashrus (OK) Kosher Certification is among the most esteemed symbols for kosher foods. It consists of a letter “K” inside a circle and was founded by Rabbi Berel Levy in 1935. Since then, the OK Laboratories has advocated that food companies accommodate the Jewish people in the way they manufacture their food and has gained support from over 300 kosher specialists. It has approved over 300,000 food products and has a database system called the “Tracking Researching and Certifying Kosher (TRACK)” to help consumers become aware of kosher-approved foods.
The OU Symbol of Kosher Certification represents the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, with an image of the letter “U” inside a circle. Among other symbols for kosher foods, the OU is one of the oldest, having approved of kosher products since 1923. Having the OU symbol means that the product has passed the strictest of standards in terms of manufacturing, packaging, and cooking, as the Orthodox Union interprets the laws regarding kosher items in the strictest way. Since then, it has approved of over half a million products from international companies.
The Star-K Symbol of Kosher Certification has gone the extra mile of certifying machines used in the production. The symbol represents the Star-K Kosher Certification Agency, with the letter “K” inside a star. The Star-K symbol has been stamped on machines like ovens and refrigerators that have an integrated “Sabbath mode” that automatically disables the machine during Sabbath, since the Jewish people follow a no work during Sabbath rule. Star-K not only certifies that a food product conforms to the kosher laws, but it also certifies that it is organic and that no chemicals such as pesticides have been used.
Many kosher certification agencies have database systems, but it was KOF-K Kosher Supervision that first made used of the system. The organization is represented with the letter “K” inside a shape that looks like an inverted “C.” The KOF-K also follows the Orthodox Jewish doctrines, so the standards for approving kosher items are very strict as well. The database system not only contains a list of kosher products, but also the ingredients and the companies that they have approved with symbols for kosher foods.