By Zev Steen
Star-K is one of the only kosher certification organizations with a dedicated customer service department to answer consumer questions. We answer about 350 kosher-related calls each day.
One particularly memorable call came from a woman who was very upset about kosher certification agencies in general. Why, she wanted to know, do we certify foods that are unhealthy? We are causing obesity, diabetes and other food-related illnesses among kosher consumers. She felt that if agencies didn’t certify these “damaging” products, the kosher consumer would lead a happier healthier life.
I have to admit I spent a bit of time pondering this. Is the job of the kosher certification agency to regulate the intake of those who keep kosher, in an attempt to direct everyone to a healthier lifestyle? Or is our job to offer kosher consumers as much variety as possible and let them make their own health decisions? In addition, if our job is to tell people what they can eat – whose health standards do we adopt? One person’s toxin is another person’s lifeline.
I believe the job of the kosher certification agency is to broaden the consumers’ choices – allowing them to tailor a diet to their needs. Sure, this can be abused. Everything can.