Kendamil Mehadrin Global Kosher’s Newest Product: Kosher Baby Cereals
Following the great success with lots of siyatta diShmaya of Kendamil Mehadrin chalav Yisrael baby formula, Global Kosher in partnership with Kendal Nutricare is delighted to announce the launch of a new range of Kedassia-supervised organic infant cereal products, one of which is certified gluten-free. Two varieties will be on sale from this week in the United Kingdom and Europe, and in two weeks’ time in the United States – a multi-grain porridge suitable for babies aged six+ months, and a fruit-flavoured cereal suitable for babies aged seven+ months, which is gluten-free and kosher l’Pesach. These are part of a range of five kosher organic cereals, the rest of which will shortly be available in the United Kingdom.
Hamodia spoke to a number of people involved in the production of the cereals: Rabbi Michoel Scharf, executive kashrus director of Kedassia; Mr. Ross McMahon, CEO of Kendal Nutricare Ltd.; Mr. Neill Duffy, sales manager at Kendal Nutricare Ltd. and Mr. Moishe Feldman, MD, of Global Kosher. They explained how the cereals were created and manufactured under a very high level of kashrus supervision with organic certification and then distributed across the United Kingdom and throughout the world.
Hamodia: Please tell us why this new product is so exciting?
Ross McMahon: Parents always want the best for their children, and when it comes to baby food that means pure ingredients, produced to the highest specifications. Many parents prefer organic baby food when possible, as they then know that the product contains no traces of pesticides or genetically modified materials. The United Kingdom is particularly strong on organic food at the moment, and we’re happy to be able to provide it. We’re also delighted that we’re producing a certified gluten-free kosher for Passover variety.
As baby food manufacturers, we always shy away from any kind of contaminants, such as heavy metals or pesticides. With these new organic cereals, parents can be sure that we have taken out anything which is not essential, and that even the extra fortifications such as vitamins are not only kosher but as natural as possible.
The range varies in texture and complexity of taste, to suit the needs of babies from four months + to 10 months +.
H: How long has it taken to get the cereal from idea to distribution?
Neill Duffy: We’ve been working on this project for just under two years now. The first meeting with our extended partners, Global Kosher, was about 16 months ago. We carried out a lot of market research, specifically around the issue of perceptions of organic foods. We also investigated what types of baby cereal are available and popular around the world, to ensure that we produce cereals that parents really want for their children.
H: Rabbi Scharf, can you tell us how you made the kosher l’Pesach cereal?
Rabbi Michoel Scharf: This was a very challenging project – we had to be careful in so many different areas. In addition to the general need for pure ingredients for any kind of infant food, we had to incorporate kashrus, organic status, gluten-free status requirements and then ensuring that one of the products was kosher l’Pesach. It is, however, kitniyos, and on Pesach should be prepared in a designated area with dedicated equipment – preferably disposable, to avoid any mistakes.
Kendal is always very selective about where they source their ingredients. For this project we worked together with them, getting the grain from Germany, the fruit for the flavoured varieties from France and some of the other ingredients from South America. So it truly is a “Global Kosher” product!
The two specific issues were ensuring there was no cross contamination of the grain, and koshering the factory plant. For the Pesachdik cereal, it was important to go right back to the fields of grain, before they were even harvested. Since farmers grow different grains in fields next to each other, there is a chance that due to seeds scattering, or the wind blowing grains, a field of grain that might be suitable for Pesach – and gluten free – could actually contain a few stalks of, say, wheat. Harvesting these days is carried out by combine harvesters, which cut, thresh and winnow the grain all in the same machine. Then at the mill, the grain is stored in a silo, which has previously held other grains. Although it is cleaned out in between, as are the lorries which transport the grain and the flour, this not adequate for Pesach use.
In order to ensure that all these issues were covered, Kendal found a certified gluten-free company that controls the grain right from the field. This meant that none of their equipment – harvesters, lorries, mill machinery – had ever come into contact with any kind of chametz grain.
Even the way in which the grain is measured had to be examined to ensure there was no cross contamination. Normally, the truck carrying the grain drives onto a weighbridge and is weighed. Then it unloads the grain and is weighed again. Grain is paid for not by weight but by yield – a sample of a few kilos is taken to a laboratory, where it is tested for its content, such as the amount of starch. The level of care to avoid cross contamination is so high that the sampling machinery is dedicated for gluten-free grain, and the load passes to the mill via special pipes.
H: That’s a tremendous amount of attention to detail! What happens when you have the flour ready? How is it turned into cereal?
RS: In 20 years of working in kashrus, this has been my most challenging project!
To make baby cereal, the flour is made into a sort of porridge, which is then evaporated on rollers. There is a huge drum, with a cylinder about 7 metres (23 feet) long and a large heating element inside. The porridge falls like a curtain over the drum and the water evaporates, leaving a dry product, like a sheet of paper, which is then broken down and sieved. It’s a very delicate process, because the grain must be cooked enough to kill any bacteria, without destroying the nutrients. Kendal has developed its own process to cook the porridge for just the very shortest amount of time necessary.
We obviously made the run of Pesachdik cereal first, but because we were using equipment which had previously been used for chametz grain, it had to be thoroughly cleaned before it could be kashered. A team of seven people took about 12 hours to clean the machinery – that’s over 90 hours of cleaning! This was then followed by a rigorous koshering process.
We did three days of Pesach production, and then began producing the chametz cereal.
H: There’s been a tremendous amount of time and effort put into making these cereals. How do you know babies will like them?
ND: Obviously, we can’t test them on babies, so a group of staff from Kendal tasted them – and they are very pleasant! The different products contain different grains and different fruit purees, and they can all be mixed together in varying proportions (bearing in mind their suitability for the age of the baby) and with whatever kind of milk product the baby usually drinks, to make a variety of cereals for the baby to enjoy at any time of day. In addition, Global Kosher carried out a focus group research, which proved extremely insightful.
H: What part does Global Kosher play?
Moishe Feldman: Since embarking on the mission of baby formula in 2013, our raison d’etre is to supply consumers with a variety of high quality kosher baby foods.
The Kendamil Mehadrin chalav Yisrael baby formula is now very well recognized internationally and the time has come to launch Phase II, so we decided to continue the range of supervised baby products by adding a range of weaning foods. The initial feedback is extremely positive, baruch Hashem, and we will continue to work in the background to increase the collection. Our next big project, im yirtzeh Hashem, is ready-made formula bottles, for busy mothers on the go.
We’re particularly excited about the kosher l’Pesach cereal, which will be a boon to busy parents. The cereals will be distributed via our usual network across the United Kingdom and shipped worldwide via our Global Freight division.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the entire team at Kendal Nutricare for all their hard work and patience in getting this project off the ground, particularly Mr Neill Duffy, who went far beyond the call of duty to ensure that every single detail was right. Rabbi Scharf, executive kashrus director at Kedassia, and his hard-working team outdid all their previous efforts, tackling all the many stages of a very complex project in a superbly professional way.
Last but not least, this project would not have been possible without my loyal and dedicated team at Global Kosher.