Star-K already had a joint kosher and USDA organic auditing program, developed in conjunction with Quality Assurance International (QAI), since the start of 2009, but it conducted its first triple audit – adding non-GMO certification – for Hain Celestial Group’s WestSoy product line in December. The non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) verification allows the kosher certification body to add the Non-GMO Project’s verification scheme to these double kosher-organic audits, providing triple certification within one working day.
Star-K president Dr. Avrom Pollak said: “Clients want stacked audits as a way to create efficiency and eliminate multiple audit fatigue—it is the clients, themselves, who are operating multiple certification/verification programs that find it helpful to work with an agency that can perform stacked audits…Having realized that many companies have all three certifications, we feel that the bundling of our certification efforts will add further efficiency and value on behalf of consumers throughout the world.”
The joint audit is achieved by providing inspectors with training in all three auditing processes, allowing them to conduct them at the same time.
Star-K said demand for trusted kosher-certified products has increased in line with growing interest in organic foods, calling the kosher organic industry “a flourishing new specialty food category”. Kosher product sales grew 41% from 2003 to 2010, according to Mintel data. The market researcher estimates the value of kosher ingredients sold in the United States at $370bn a year.
Meanwhile, the Non-GMO Project’s verification scheme has become the fastest growing food eco-label in North America, and sales of certified products hit $1bn in 2011, according to SPINS, a market research and consulting firm for the natural products industry.
Hain Celestial Group’s WestSoy Tofu quality assurance manager Anthony Hodgson said Hain Celestial opted for a triple kosher-organic-non-GMO audit to use time and resources more efficiently.
He said: “The non-GMO and organic audit had some commonalities, as the auditor would ask a specific question it was already addressed by another audit and vice versa. Therefore it was an efficient use of everyone’s time. Going forward I would definitely recommend doing the audits together.”