RCA Issues Guidelines to Enhance Kosher Food Producers’ Compliance with Jewish Legal and Ethical Teachings.
New York, NY –– The RCA has today issued a set of Guidelines intended to promote and safeguard ethical corporate policies and behavior, and encourage socially responsible activities in kosher food production.
The guidelines, known as JPEG (Jewish Principles and Ethical Guidelines) were drawn up by an expert Task Force, convened by the RCA. It concluded that given the responsibility of rabbis to promote ethical conduct and to shun misconduct, and the tremendous increase in rabbinical involvement in supervising food production, the time has come for institutionalizing the ethical standards applied by agencies by establishing consistent and thoughtful guidelines for standards of good conduct. An additional motivation for the step was the conclusion that today's kosher consumer expects more from the rabbis who supervise products for the mass market.
Among the provisions of the guidelines are:
• All US kashrut agencies are urged to adopt transparent policies for withdrawing approval from companies engaged in significant wrongdoing.
• Kashrut inspectors should have clear procedures for reporting to agencies on problems they encounter.
• Effective and equitable responses to reports of wrongdoing should be developed and implemented. There should be fair and equitable policies for following up on any problems detected.
• The Task Force also released sample materials to help ease adoption of the guidelines. In particular, they provide sample contract language for agencies to formalize their expectation of companies under their supervision that kashrus approval is dependent on law-abiding behavior, and a sample training module for kosher agency staff
The guidelines include a list of legal offenses which should be considered significant wrongdoing, including
• misleading the consumer
• neglecting the health and safety of the customer, employees, or the public; and
• mistreatment of animals.
We are pleased to note that the Orthodox Union (OU), which is the leading international kashrus supervising agency, and for which the Rabbinical Council of America is the halachic authority, has strongly endorsed JPEG. A number of other national kashrus agencies have indicated their agreement in principle to the issuance of ethical guidelines, and are in various stages of adoption and compliance with many of the provisions of the RCA initiative.
The Task Force was chaired by Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, a prominent expert in the field of business ethics. Rabbi Dr. Meir commented: "These guidelines are an important progressive development in the world of kosher supervision. We believe that in the coming years, effective standards will be a prerequisite for serious kosher supervision agencies to thrive. The generally positive response to JPEG that we have received from leading agencies demonstrates a growing recognition that raising the bar on ethical issues will be part of the continuing professional development that characterizes the kosher supervision industry."
Other members of the Task Force include its Senior Advisor Rabbi Dr. Aaron Levine, a leading expert and university lecturer in business ethics; experts in law (Harvey Blitz Esq., Rabbi Michael Broyde, Rabbi Dov Fischer), in industrial and local kosher supervision (Rabbi Menachem Genack, Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner) and in corporate ethics programs and training (Rabbi Yakov Yellin Esq.)
It is the hope and expectation of the RCA that kosher consumers will play a constructive role in encouraging socially responsible business practices, so that we can all succeed in maintaining and enhancing a kosher marketplace that accords with the highest standards of Jewish ethical teachings.
[Hat Tip: It's a bird, it's a plane.]