Kosher Symbols

Written by Patricia Skinner
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If you look, you will find kosher symbols on all packaged kosher foods. The fact that the kosher food business has grown so much in recent years has made a system of certification necessary to help Jews identify kosher food easily, and the symbol system is the best method. Kosher symbols are not easily awarded. In order to qualify, not only each company, but each food undergoes rigorous observance and testing by a rabbi.

In fact, there are three distinct parts of kosher certification. The ingredients, the processing, and the equipment are all subjected to separate scrutiny. While some foods may technically satisfy kosher requirements, they may not also satisfy the high standards that have come to be expected from kosher food, so a rabbi may withhold certification, or refuse to allow a particular ingredient to be used in the making of kosher food products.

Main Kosher Symbols

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations is perhaps the chief organization for kashrut supervision in the United States. Their symbol is O-U, and the U is depicted inside the letter O. They are a non-profit organization that has been a leader in the field for more than 70 years.

Based in Brooklyn, the Organized Kashrut Laboratories is next in importance after the O-U. Their symbol is a K inside a circle. There is also Star-K, which is a star with a K inside, and Star-D, which is a solid D with a K in the center. There are literally dozens more kosher symbols, some of which refer to the kashrut supervision of an individual rabbi, rather than an organization.

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