Lytton was interviewed on the What is Your Food Worth? blog.
As a general matter, private food safety audits and industry-sponsored nutrition labeling schemes have been a great disappointment. Behind most major food-poisoning outbreaks is some private auditing firm that gave the food producer a phony five-star rating. And when nutritional rating schemes give high marks to sugary cereals and full-fat ice cream, you have to wonder.
As a kosher-observant Orthodox Jew, I realized that kosher certification offers a 2000 year old example of private food certification. My initial suspicion was that kosher certification was full of price gouging and unnecessary, super-stringent standards. As I began to get into my research, however, I found that, although fraud and corruption were rampant a century ago in kosher meat production, today’s kosher system is highly reliable. My book tells the story of how, within the span of a century, kosher certification became the one of the most reliable systems of private certification in the food industry, indeed, perhaps in any industry.