All the Hechsherim are Kosher

Question: Numerous times you have written that all of the Hechsherim [Koshert certifications] are kosher. I think you are naive and unaware of what is really going on. If you knew how many foul-ups occur in this regard in food production, and even more so in restaurants, you would not express yourself this way.
Answer: With bakeries and restaurants, each place must be examined on its own merits. I was talking about factories in which there is a set production process. In all modesty, I am well aware of the reality, and I still say that if a Torah scholar took responsibility and wrote "kosher," then the product is indeed kosher, and let no one dare say that Rabbis are feeding the Jewish People non-kosher food.
Question: When a consumer sees a Hechsher on a package, how can he know whether the person giving the Hechsher is really a Torah scholar? Perhaps he is just a layman masquerading as a Rabbi?
Answer: If the consumer does not know that Rabbi, he should check it out. If the Rabbi is the Rabbi of a city, or part of a recognized Kashrut organization or a city rabbinate, then he is certainly a genuine Torah scholar.
Question: I have encountered instances in which a product has a Hechsher but it turns out that the factory is forging it. Is the product still kosher?
Answer: Obviously, if a counterfeiter forges a Rabbi's signature, this lacks the force of a Hechsher. Yet this has nothing to do with the question of whether all Hechshers are kosher. Even if they forge the signature of the strictest Rabbi in the world, the product will not be kosher.
Question: A Rabbi was giving a Hechsher to a large and prominent food production plant and it turned out that he had no idea what was going on there. In another plant a lot of bugs were found in the product.
There was a case in which a Rabbi did not check whether a particular fruit was "orla" [from a tree in its first four years (Vaykira 19:23-25)]. In a certain factory in which all the non-Jewish workers worked on Shabbat, the Mashgiach [kashrut supervisor] could not check out the ingredients being delivered on Shabbat. There are known cases of Rabbis who gave Hechsherim until the Chief Rabbinate discovered oversights and appointed other Mashgichim over the original ones.
Answer: I didn't say that mistakes never happen. My point is only that throughout the Torah we rely on the principles of "Rov" [the majority factor] and "Chazakah" [the presumption that a previous state continues]. Every person known to be a Torah scholar is presumed reputable until proven otherwise. If a rumor circulates that there is an oversight, that rumor must be investigated. If one has dealings with a Rabbi and he behaves questionably, the situation changes. Surely a Rabbi who gives a Hechsher without checking out what is happening forfeits his Chazakah unless he duly repents.
Question: In one factory, when the Rabbi arrives they prepare him a large package of products from that factory, and then everything goes smoothly. It is likewise known that there are rabbis who have appointed as kashrut supervisors their relatives and friends, people who lack any of the appropriate training for the job, and these people work unsupervised. There was even a case of a nonobservant person being appointed.
Answer: I do not understand these questions. Sometimes it is discovered that a particular Rabbi is unethical, that he is a thief, a cheat or an adulterer. Do all rabbis forfeit their Chazakah as a result? The concept of presumed good repute does not mean one hundred percent certainty like in mathematics. It only means that the Torah decreed that we can rely on certain presumptions, and even that we can put someone to death on the basis of a Chazakah. Likewise, a Torah scholar has a Chazakah so long as there is no proof otherwise.
Certainly, if someone writes "kosher" on a non-kosher product, he is unworthy of the title "Rabbi," but as long as no such thing has been proven, the food is presumed kosher.
Question: There are even great and reputable Torah scholars who have been deceived by factory owners or who sometimes err in their rulings. In such cases, is the Hechsher still kosher?
Answer: Even a real Torah scholar sometimes errs. Why did you not ask me about the case at the beginning of Tractate Horiyot, where the Sanhedrin ruled that a certain food was kosher and everybody ate from it, and it ultimately turned out that it had been a mistake? In that case, the Rabbis had to bring a sacrifice. Why did you not ask if that food was kosher? When all is said and done, the Shulchan Aruch rules that we can eat in the home of any Jew who has a Chazakah of observance.
Question: Is it that in order to strengthen the Chief Rabbinate of Israel it is permissible to eat food that is not so kosher?
Answer: It isn't like that. To address your point, there is certainly a mitzvah to strengthen "the judge who will be in that time" (Devarim 17:9). That verse, however, is teaching that any Rabbi, and not just one connected to the Chief Rabbinate, is presumed reputable.
Question: Sometimes the Rabbi who gives the Hechsher himself says that he is dissatisfied with the situation but that he cannot improve it due to lack of manpower.
Answer: Quite the contrary, since he is aware of the problematic situation yet still puts his stamp on the food it is a sign that it is kosher.
Question: If someone wishes to be more strict regarding kashrut, why stop him?
Answer: G-d forbid! In every realm, the person who takes the stricter approach reaps a blessing. Obviously, this is so not just in the realm of kashrut, but also regarding Shabbat, prayer, Tzitzit, business ethics, interpersonal relations, treating one's wife with respect, educating one's children, etc.
Yet there is a precondition to every stricture, namely that it not involve one's denigrating others. Could there be any worse denigration than that of a person spreading libels about Rabbis, saying that they are making people eat non-kosher food? Such a thing would take unparalleled gall. Certainly we must be scrupulous regarding kashrut. Certainly the consumer must exert pressure. After all, most of the factories agree to kashrut supervision only for commercial reasons. Hence the more the public's demands increase, the more the Hechsherim will improve. Yet, all this must be done with real respect shown for Rabbis. Those Rabbis in fact will be the first to rejoice over each additional stricture.