2

I had taken for granted that packaged foods marked with just "K" are not necessarily kosher--that is, that "K" is not a real hechsher--because the company prints that symbol itself, and it does not necessarily indicate rabbinical supervision or sanction. (Certain items marked "K" are on kosher lists; these, like other items on relaible lists, are OK.) Or so I thought.

However, I have been seeing some discussion to the effect that there may in fact be some meaning to some uses of the "K" hechsher. Moreover, I have found products with just "K" in a grocery store in a frum area in which they do not even sell non-cholov-yisroel milk. (When I asked whether the product was kosher, the frum man working at the store pointed at the "K.") So what's the deal? Is [some] food under the "K" hechsher actually kosher? What is the provenance of the hechsher, and how do I know what I can eat from it?

  • (The grocery store product in question was, indeed, Kellogg's--namely Kellogg's Special K: Protein, which specific item I have not been able to find on any American kosher list....) – SAH Sep 8 '16 at 1:29
  • 2
    I learned as a kid that the K meant "someone says it is kosher" but it is incumbent on the consumer to call the company and investigate Who's behind the K. connection.ebscohost.com/c/interviews/98785081/… [for Kellogg's the answer is "the KVH" apparently] – rosends Sep 8 '16 at 1:31
  • @Danno Are they only allowed to have the K if "someone who is someone" indeed says it is kosher? Or can the companies call it kosher themselves? – SAH Sep 8 '16 at 2:46
  • @Danno, where is Kellogg's manufactured? KVH is local to me, so if Kellogg's is in MI, it's a bit of a schlep for R' Krems! – Noach MiFrankfurt Sep 8 '16 at 3:05
  • 1
    @NoachMiFrankfurt from the KVH website, "As one of the oldest Kosher certifying organizations,with close to a century of expertise, KVH Kosher is one of the top kosher certification agencies in North America. Our expertise is in all aspects of Kosher certification from large manufacturing facilities to small food service operations – both locally and throughout the world." – rosends Sep 8 '16 at 10:38
6

Kosher organizations use trademark law to prevent unauthorized companies from putting their symbol on the box. So if you see an OU on a box of food, you can be relatively certain that the product is indeed certified by the OU because they could sue any company that uses their trademark without permission1.

The letter K is just a letter; it cannot be trademarked. So seeing the letter K on a box of food does not itself imply that the food is certified. A company such as Kellogg's may choose not to print the symbol of their certifying agency on the box. I don't know exactly what the reason for not doing so would be (see Why doesn't Kellogg's print the symbol of their certifying agency on their boxes), but Kellogg's does this and the kashrut agency is happy to certify the product regardless of whether their symbol is included on the box as long as they're being paid (and the food is kosher, of course).

The only way to determine that food with a plain-K is actually kosher is if the certifying agency can somehow be determined to be a reliable agency. Normally this is done simply by looking up the symbol but in this case, other means are necessary. In the case of Kellogg's they are certified by the Rabbinical Council of New England. If you hold by that supervisory organization, you can eat Kellogg's.


1 Technically a certification mark rather than a trademark. I am not a lawyer. Legal details may be more simplified than reality but the gist is correct.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .