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Monday, December 29, 2014

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Loblaw packaging to carry only COR certification

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Loblaw's in North York. [Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

Kosher products marketed under Loblaw Companies’ store brands, including President’s Choice, No name and Blue Menu, will soon carry a single kosher symbol – the COR designation of the Kashruth Council of Canada – instead of the 10 different symbols currently displayed on product packaging.

The company said it made the move, which will be phased in over the coming months, so that it could communicate with one kosher supervisory body instead of the 10 it currently deals with.

All products will continue to be supervised by their current hechsher-granting agencies, – including such prominent ones as the Orthodox Union, which oversees the OU symbol, and BC Kosher, with its BCK hechsher – but will only feature the COR symbol from now on, Loblaw said.

“This has been a couple of years in the making,” said Kashruth Council spokesperson Richard Rabkin, adding that Loblaw approached the Kashruth Council, Canada’s largest kosher certification body, with the idea.

Loblaw announced the change to suppliers in late September and assured them it will have little impact on the certification process, provided a company’s existing kosher supervisory agency’s standards are acceptable to the Kashruth Council.

Rabkin said all 10 of the current hechshers meet the Kashruth Council’s standards.

If, hypothetically, another agency didn’t meet COR standards and wanted to certify a Loblaw store brand product, the Kashruth Council would conduct an investigation to “see if we can get them up to our standards. If we can great. If we can’t, Loblaw will decide how it wants to proceed,” he added.

Rabkin said the advantages to the new arrangement for both Loblaw and consumers include packaging uniformity; speeding up food manufacturing, which can be delayed by private-label agreements; and aligning with an agency that can advocate for kashrut. 

He said the change won’t add to costs for either manufacturers or consumers.

“No food manufacturing company has to pay us a penny,” and none will be coerced into switching to COR supervision.

Rabkin added that since the announcement has just been rolled out at the manufacturer level, consumers will probably see little change on supermarket shelves for a few months. “Updating the packaging takes a lot of time… this is really the beginning of the process.”

Rabbi Saul Emanuel, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Montreal, which oversees the MK hechsher that’s currently visible on many Loblaw store brand products – including No name and President’s Choice soft drinks, No name canola oil and PC-branded herbal tea – says his organization is adopting a wait-and-see outlook to the new arrangement.

“At this stage, there’s been no change in the kosher situation at these companies.”

Calls to other kashrut agencies for comment were not returned by The CJN’s deadline.

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