New York Governor George Pataki was the keynote speaker June 6, 1999 at a Manhattan dinner honoring H.J. Heinz Co. (Pittsburgh) president and CEO William Johnson. The Orthodox Union honored Johnson with its prestigious "National Centennial Kashruth Founders Award" in celebration of more than 75 years of kosher food production at Heinz, including the company's flagship brandHeinz Ketchup.
Heinz was the first company to debut the "Circle U" kosher symbol back in 1923, after collaborating with the United Federation of Orthodox Rabbis to develop the insignia. The Circle U first appeared on Heinz Vegetarian Beans and most recently was added to the label of StarKist's New And Improved Solid White Albacore Tuna, a product of Heinz affiliate StarKist Foods, Inc.
"Heinz and the Orthodox Union have been closely associated in the minds of consumers for more than half a century, each representing the highest standards of quality and reliability," said Mandell Ganchrow, MD, president of the Orthodox Union. "Today's ever-growing kosher marketwith over $30 billion in estimated annual food salesis largely indebted to pioneering companies such as Heinz."
The Circle U symbol is reserved for food products prepared and packaged or served according to the strict standards of the kosher dietary laws under the Orthodox Union's supervision. The Orthodox Union certifies 2,127 corporations with 3,999 plants.