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I want to know what the OU's or any other Orthodox kashrut agency's problem is with Triangle K. I have read about the Ralbag family which founded and runs the Triangle K and they are clearly Orthodox. If so, what is the problem with their hashgacha?

Please provide sources and facts and not mere conjecture or judgment calls.

I don't mean for this question to arouse a political and/or religious debate, I am purely interested in the facts.

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Hello Mark, and welcome to Judaism.SE! Thanks for asking this relevant contemporary question. If you have some documentation or other material indicating that the OU or other agencies indeed have a problem with Triangle K, outlining or linking to it could really strengthen your question. As you suggest, this potentially evocative discussion should be based only on sources and facts, not mere conjecture or judgment calls. –  WAF Nov 27 '11 at 15:01
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@WAF The Triangle K is not listed on the CRC's directory of acceptable kashrut agencies: crcweb.org/agency_list.php –  SarahBrodsky Nov 27 '11 at 15:05
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@SarahBrodsky That is a very useful piece of information which, if included in the question, would make it one on the cRc rather than the OU. If so, the question would be undermined by a line in the first paragraph linked, "The fact that a particular agency does not appear on this list does not imply that the cRc has determined it to be substandard." –  WAF Nov 27 '11 at 15:09
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@WAF Mark did say "or any other kashrut agency". I disagree that the statement you cited would undermine the question. That seems like a throwaway line to avoid publicly denigrating other organizations. Triangle K is a very common symbol and if the CRC recommended it, it would be on the list. –  SarahBrodsky Nov 27 '11 at 15:15
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This shul's list of symbols explicitly that Triangle K is not accepted. asbi.org/kashrut/index.htm Of course, this is a synagogue and not a kashrut agency. –  SarahBrodsky Nov 27 '11 at 15:46

4 Answers 4

Every Kosher Agency has its own standards that it adheres to. It has its leniencies that it follows, as well as stringencies. If you don't agree with those leniences, then you won't trust that hechsher.

There are many things that must be taken into account. Some examples:

  • the Kashering process between non-kosher and kosher products run on the same line.
  • Transportation.
  • The ingredients used (e.g. gelatin)
  • the frequency of Mashgichim (inspectors') visits
  • Transparency. How easy is it to find out what leniencies the Kosher Agency follows.
  • does your level of kashrut observance match up with the koshering agency

I wasn't able to find the Triangle-K's stance on any of these issues, but here's an interview allegedly conducted with Rabbi Ralbag. In it, he specifically mentions two leniencies that many others do not accept:

“Others don’t want to accept it, so very good…we depend on ABC…On cooking for wine, someone will say 190, someone will say 180…what we do, we’ll say openly what we do…but it’s al pi halacha…Rav Moshe has a tshuva that when you take grape juice and you cook it…175…by the crush you cook the grapes…even if it’s all done by a non-jew, it’s kosher…only considered non-kosher after it’s separated…we set up one of our large grape-juice suppliers in that way…Even if it’s fully in non-jewish hands…it’s kosher…we put a mashgiach there, but even if he wouldn’t be there, it’s kosher.”

So, he relies on R' Moshe's leniency with regards to grape juice. He considers mevushal what others would consider non-mevushal, and therefore becomes forbidden to drink when touched by a non-Jew, according to people who do not follow that leniency.

He also says that they follow a leniency about when the grapes can start becoming non-kosher if touched be a non-Jew. When I worked at a winery under the OU's supervision, all the touching was done by the Mashgichim from when the grapes were brought into the processing center, before they even enter the crusher.

What about hard liquor? “We permit hard liquor…even though it’s made in caskets…al pi halacha it’s permitted…stam yaynam…They don’t blend, so far as we found out, they don’t blend any wine…we don’t give a hashgocha on whiskey anyway.”

So it all depends on what leniencies you're willing to accept.

Also, based on the above (assuming you don't accept these leniencies), you might say I'll stay away from Triangle-K products that contain wine/grape juice, but can eat the rest of their products. But there's something to remember, if they consider the grape 100% kosher, that means they aren't careful to kasher the lines in between grape and non-grape products, since there is nothing wrong with the grape products. This could potentially mean that other products on the same line are "contaminated" as well. One might argue that it is all nullified, but maybe not, you have no way of knowing.

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The Rabbanut hechsher in Israel permits gelatin... –  Adam Mosheh Mar 7 '12 at 6:42
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@AdamMosheh: Exactly. See here: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/12736/… –  Menachem Mar 7 '12 at 13:51
    
Odd that relying on R Moshe Feinstein would put you on the blacklist. –  Double AA Jan 15 '13 at 20:29
    
@DoubleAA: not everyone accepts all his chumrot (e.g. timers on shabbat) and not everyone accepts all his Kulot (e.g. Chalav HaCompanies) –  Menachem Jan 15 '13 at 22:17
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@DoubleAA: I agree. But the Triangle K is also sorely lacking in their transparency. And perhaps that is the problem. How can anyone recommend them, when they ahve no idea what they hold? The OU's Kashrut policies are public record and available on their website. –  Menachem Jan 16 '13 at 4:58

In addition to the Menachem's response above, Triangle K does not require meat products to be glatt kosher, which is a stringency that most American Jews hold by. As far as I know, this is the main reason why people don't go by them. Especially for meat products like Hebrew National hot dogs.

My understanding is that many people have no problem with eating Triangle-K products that are not meat; however, I can imagine that this lower standard of kashrut might cause people think twice before buying any of their products at all.

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"Especially...": What product does this apply to besides Hebrew National? –  Double AA Jul 26 '12 at 16:32
    
@DoubleAA, yes but it applies to their most high-profile client: Hebrew National, which is not glatt kosher. –  Daniel Jul 26 '12 at 16:33
    
Hebrew National is a huge example. It is one of the best-selling hot dog brands in the United States, not just kosher brands. –  Daniel Jul 26 '12 at 16:34
    
It's the only example. There are a myriad of drinks, crackers, sauces and whatever under the Triangle K that have no meat in them. –  Double AA Jul 26 '12 at 16:34
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Much better. +1 –  Double AA Jul 26 '12 at 16:45

The OU and other certification agency's problems with the Triangle-K are well documented with in-person interviews in Professor Timothy Litton's book Kosher: Private Regulation in the Age of Industrial Food.

Selected excerpts (from page 82 to 84):

Triangle K has much in common with its larger competitors ... There is, however, one curcial difference: there is a widespread consensus that Triangle K certification is unreliable.

...

Critics of Triangle K argue that Ralbag's kashrus standards are below the industry norm. One industry expert, who wished to remain anonymous, explained as follows:

He goes on with an example of using Kosher animal fat and vegetable fat on the same equipment but calling the vegetable fat pareve without Kashering. Ralbag says that his father did that, but he no longer does.

Nevertheless, this example reflects a belief that Ralbag has kashrus standards ... that, while principled, are sufficiently outside of the mainstream that other agencies will not rely on his certification. As another kashrus expert explained, "It's permissible under Jewish law, but it's a standard that many people are not willing to accept."

Critics of Triangle K also accuse Ralbag of lax administrative practices.

He describes the Triangle K not inspecting jointly certified facilities with the OU - they only ever see the OU Rabbi there, and having insufficient administrative capacity to know and track what he is certifying.

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It's hard to call what you quote "well documented". It's just more of the same "lax standards and poor administration" generalities. You have provided one example without even explaining what is wrong with the Triangle K's alleged former position. –  Double AA May 7 at 17:07
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@DoubleAA, you can see the book for the sources and further details. I wasn't inclined to type up that much text. But for the question of why they don't like them, it is very well documented. He goes directly to the "they", the OU, CRC, etc., and gets and documents their reasons. –  Yishai May 7 at 17:16

Triangle k is kosher according to the letter of the law. Now in regards to which products you wish to consume depends on your standards of kashrut. Regarding meat however some people will say that the meat is tarfus (non-kosher on a biblical level). This is incorrect. The way they are bodek (inspect) the lungs, as well as the melicha (salting) isn't In the strictest manner as most ultra orthodox slaughter houses would perform. So like I said before according to the letter of the law even on a rabbinic level it would be permitted. The meat just isn't glatt. (Glatt is when they check the animals lungs and they don't find an abnormality) depending on the abnormality it can either render the meat tarfus or kosher. People that eat glatt don't eat meat that has a question of an abnormality found within the lungs. (Note: there is no concept of glatt by poultry)

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Isn't the letter of the law different for different standards? Isn't that what standards mean? –  Double AA Jun 8 at 23:06

protected by Shmuel Brin Jun 6 at 20:51

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