Star-K to help UAE industries achieve kosher certification

Rabbi Joel Weinberger, Elli Kriel and Amin Kazi
Rabbi Joel Weinberger, Elli Kriel and Amin Kazi

Published: Thu 25 Feb 2021, 9:49 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Feb 2021, 11:50 AM

Star-K Kosher Certification, a not-for-profit agency, is one of the most trusted kosher certification organisations in the world. With offices throughout the US., Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, Israel, Philippines, Sri Lanka and now in the UAE, Star-K certifies plants in about 100 countries. The agency is internationally renowned for its extensive research on the complexities of food science and modern technology, as they apply to the laws of kosher, putting it on the cutting edge of the ever-growing multi-billion-dollar kosher food industry. It is also one of the foremost experts in the field of kosher pharmaceuticals, nutritional supplements, and medications.

Dr Avrom Pollak has been the president of Star-K for over 30 years. He commented on the newfound UAE interest in Kosher. "Star-K kosher certification has provided kosher supervision for over fifty years. Over the years, we have gained the reputation of providing prompt friendly service with the help of our team of experts including technical staff, a network of rabbinic Kashrus administrators, food scientists and field supervisors. It is important, especially now, in light of the Israel-UAE peace agreement, to make entities in the food industry aware of the value of kosher-certified products not only for the Jewish community here but also for anyone looking for healthy and halal-compliant options."

Since the Abraham Accords were signed between the UAE and Israel in September, the government and local businesses in the UAE have worked to make the country more accessible to Jewish visitors and residents with approvals and preparations for the building of more synagogues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, among other actions. Tens of thousands of Israelis have already visited the country since the agreement was signed. Star-K has attended Gulfood since 2014 and is honoured to be part of the official educational rollout to help the industry in the UAE achieve high level, international kosher certification.

During the Gulfood Innovation Summit, Star-K kosher ambassador in Dubai, Amin Kazi, also popularly known as AK, said Star-K is registered with the Dubai Municipality Food Watch and EMSA. In addition DP World, Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Star-K Kosher Certification to educate its partners in the food and agricultural commodities sector about kosher certification, aiding them to get certified as kosher. 

According to Elli Kriel, founder, Ellie's Kosher Kitchen, which is certified by Star-K, said that she has been doing this for the past two years on account of a personal requirement to maintain kosher in the UAE. She now has two complaint kitchens - one in Dubai and another in Abu Dhabi.  "This need came when people heard that there was a kosher provider and people started reaching out to me for kosher foods. This also developed into a service. I was providing to the community and other people around the UAE and those who were travelling in. I have to give credit to Star-K for giving me the platform and launching me internationally in New Jersey," she added.

Rabbi Joel Weinberger, regional director, Star-K, spoke about the growing kosher sector of the UAE food industry, mainly on account of the fact that there are diverse nationalities in the UAE. "I have been attending Gulfood for over seven years. I am privileged to see from the beginning what is happening here in Dubai as far as kosher is concerned. Our business is primarily focussed on the factory side of the equation i.e. the end products. Things like baklava, dates, and many other products are made here. We look forward to developing here in the UAE and in the greater Gulf areas similar to what we have done in India. We are differentiating that kosher is done on many levels," he pointed out.

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