web analytics
April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Hebrew National’

Authority, Shmothority, Is Hebrew National Meat Kosher?

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

A Minnesota court is hearing an appeal of a lawsuit arguing that Hebrew National is falsely labeling its products as “100 percent kosher.”

The original lawsuit, filed in May 2012 by 11 plaintiffs claiming fraud and breach of contract, was dismissed in January by U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank on the grounds that the issue is religious in nature and therefore not for the courts to decide.

The appeal of the case, Wallace et al v. ConAgra Foods Inc., was heard in St. Paul on Dec. 19 before a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to the plaintiffs’ brief, ex-employees of AER Services, which did the slaughtering for Hebrew National, testified that they were pressured to certify as kosher at least 70 percent of the beef they slaughtered, according to the American Jewish World, the Minnesota newspaper that broke the original story.

The plaintiffs contend that the U.S. court does not have to resolve any Judaic religious issue, because ConAgra employed a production quota system, where a predetermined percentage of cows would be labeled as kosher.

Anne Regan, attorney for the plaintiffs, told the panel of judges that ConAgra was well aware of the problems with AER, and with Triangle K, the firm that provided the hechsher, or kosher certification, for the meat. She reiterated the argument that the quota undermined ConAgra’s claim that it was producing kosher meat to the highest standards.

Judge James B. Loken pressed his question about what makes meat kosher or not, and suggested that if an animal “wasn’t well enough” to meet a “rabbi’s standard, you can’t go there.” In other words, the U.S. court can’t sort out what constitutes a kosher product.

Regan said that if the case was sent back to the district court, attorneys for the plaintiffs could file discovery motions and try to prove that ConAgra was defrauding consumers. The plaintiffs’ brief noted that consumers view kosher food as the “new organic.”

Judge William Jay Riley, chief judge of the 8th Circuit court, also expressed skepticism about how meat could be considered kosher, if the employees of the kosher slaughtering firm “just passed on the cows.”

AER Services, ConAgra and Triangle K have denied the allegations and blamed disgruntled former employees for trying to sully Hebrew National’s reputation. Their attorneys reiterated their argument that a U.S. court cannot constitute what qualifies as kosher, the American Jewish World reported.

“A secular court simply cannot second guess a religious determination by a religious authority,” said Corey Gordon, representing the defendants.

The judges said they would rule on the appeal “as soon as possible,” the paper said.

JTA and AJWNews content was used in this report.

Hearing on Motion to Dismiss Set in Hebrew National Class-Action Suit

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

A hearing on a motion to dismiss a consumer fraud case against the company that produces Hebrew National products has been scheduled for Nov. 30 in a federal court.

The hearing will be held at the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

ConAgra Foods Inc., which owns the Hebrew National brand, on July 26 filed the motion to dismiss a class-action suit that alleges that Hebrew National’s iconic hot dogs and other meats do not comport with the brand’s claim to be kosher “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law.” The ConAgra motion states that the case should be dismissed because, among other reasons, kosher is “exclusively a matter of Jewish religious doctrine.” It also states that under the First Amendment, “federal courts may not adjudicate disputes that turn on religious teachings, doctrine and practice.”

The suit, which was filed May 18 in a Minnesota state court, accuses ConAgra of consumer fraud. ConAgra has rejected the claims.

Triangle-K, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based supervising agency that certifies Hebrew National products as kosher, and AER, which provides the kosher slaughtering services at Hebrew National facilities in the Midwest, including in Minnesota, also rejected the allegations. Neither is named in the suit.

The suit is seeking monetary damages equal to the total amount of monies that consumers in the class paid for Hebrew National meat products.

Zimmerman Reed, an Arizona-based law firm with offices in Minnesota, solicited consumers through its website. The firm advertised a free case review for anyone who purchased Hebrew National hot dogs in the past two years or had information about the preparation of the products.

Suit Charges Hebrew National Products Not Kosher

Monday, June 18th, 2012

A class action lawsuit filed in May against Hebrew National, manufacturer of kosher meat products in the United States, alleges that the company misrepresents its kashrut standards “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish Law,” the American Jewish world reported.

Hebrew National products are certified kosher by Triangle K, and its kosher slaughtering is provided by the Midwestern company AER, according to the complaint filed in the Dakota County district court of Minnesota.

The class action lawsuit was filed against ConAgra Foods, doing business as Hebrew National, a Delaware corporation, alleging that AER employees informed the company of procedures at slaughterhouses that were in such direct violation of kashrut laws that they “rendered the meat being processed not kosher.”

The suit also accuses the company of mistreating its employees, especially its kosher supervisors and slaughterers. The firm AER provides the kosher slaughtering services at Hebrew National facilities in the Midwest.

Employees who complained about the inappropriate actions were fired or transferred, the suit claims.

Among the complaints is that non-kosher meat was packaged and labeled as kosher meat. The complaints also said that the lungs were not inspected well enough for imperfections and that some cows were slaughtered incorrectly.

The suit also alleges that the employees were paid in violation of American tax laws.

Shlomo Ben-David, owner of AER Services Inc., said in an interview with Failed Messiah, who also offers a copy of the suit online, that the allegations in the suit were too vague and did not cite specific facts regarding the violations.

But the suit, which goes through an exhaustive discussion of kosher meat requirements, is quite specific regarding the complaints of AER employees. Item 77 reads:

“When dirt or growths are on the animal’s neck the mandatory clean cut necessary for kosher slaughter (and ultimate certification) cannot be made. Meat from unclean animals (i.e. those with dirty hides covered with mud, sand or stones) or animals with physical; defects is improperly marked as kosher… Dirt on the animal dulls the knives or causes nicks during cutting and the slaughters cannot make the mandatory clean cut.”

AER leased space from American Foods Group, LLC, which delivered cattle to its facilities “to be slaughtered, inspected and certified.” Item 78 alleges:

“Pressure is put on the employees inspecting and slaughtering the cows to maximize kosher meat production by slaughtering unclean cows. Further, certain quotas are applied at the AFG facilities to ensure that a certain predetermined amount of the total cattle population (approx. 70-75%) brought to the AFG facility for slaughter produces kosher meat to provide defendant. By setting artificial, pre-determined quotas, the kosher inspection process becomes defective and unreliable. Meat from cows that should not qualify for kosher certification ends up being marked kosher.”

The suit also alleges that “to speed the process, animals can be killed by using an air compressor gun with a hollow bolt piston immediately after the animal’s throat is cut.”

JTA content was used in this article.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/suit-charges-hebrew-national-products-not-kosher/2012/06/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: