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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Kosher Food’

Proposed Law Aims at Tighter Kosher Food Enforcement

Monday, December 30th, 2013

The Knesset will discuss and vote on a  new bill to give official kosher food inspectors powers to make sure that restaurants and other public places that are certified as kosher live up to their commitment.

The Israeli media immediately labeled the supervisors the “Kashrus Police,” implying some kind of Saudi or Iranian religious goon squad.

No one in Israel is forced to operate kosher facility, but those who do so must pay for visits by a “mashgiach” of the Chief Rabbinate, who makes sure that vegetables have been tithed, that daily and meat utensils are not mixed up and that only kosher ingredients are used.

However, the inspectors are not able to enter any place with the approval of the owner. They also are not allowed to take samples of food without the owner’s permission.

Chief Rabbi David Lau explained that the proposed new measures to let the supervisors enter the facilities are meant to make sure that people eating kosher are in fact eating kosher. The Chief Rabbinate’s Kashrut Fraud Prevention Unit will have uniforms and badges, if the bill becomes law.

That was enough to give the headline writers a field say. Yediot Acharonot’s English Ynet website wrote, “Israel set to get ‘kashrut police,” and the Times of Israel headlined, “New ‘kashrut police’ planned by Religious Affairs Ministry.”

What’s Wrong With the Star-K Kosher Phone?

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

About a month ago the Star-K, a world renowned Kashrus agency, announced that they were certifying kosher phones. These phones have no access to the Internet, cannot place or receive text messages, cannot take photos, and most importantly, cannot be hacked to perform any of these tasks.

It’s not troubling to me that people would want a phone that is insulated from certain tasks. Although I think it is an unnecessary measure and perhaps counter productive, I don’t begrudge people their personal self control restraints.

What is troubling is that a kashrus agency is part of this initiative. A kashrus agency should be concerned with one thing and one thing only. Their singular concern should be the kosher status of the food. I don’t even think that a kashrus agency must concern itself with humanitarian or other ethical issues that may arise. I have no problem with a secondary agency coming in and providing a secondary level of supervision. But the kosher status of the food cannot be affected by anything other its status as kosher food.

So when I see a kashrus agency entering into the phone market, I see an agency that should be worried about kosher status of food but is now legislating morality. It’s not even as if the technical skills involved in kosher supervision overlap the neutering of cell phones. They have nothing to do with each other. I don’t think it is smart for kosher supervision to be intertwined or even related to morality supervision.

Similarly, when kosher supervision agencies make demands on the clientele or ambience of an eating establishment I believe they are overstepping their bounds. There are restaurants that are not allowed to be open at certain hours because they will lose their hechsher if they are open. This is far beyond the scope of kosher supervision. Tell me if the food is kosher and I will decide if I want to patronize the restaurant. That is all we need from a kashrus agency. The stretching of their authority serves no important purpose for the public. It seems to me that it is merely a self-serving, self-righteous way to legislate their morality. If they can legislate phones and who can eat where, what’s next?

I am not making a slippery slope argument. I am pointing out that there is no logical connection between the kosher status of food and the kosher status of a phone. There is also no relationship between the kosher status of a restaurant and whether teenagers are hanging out. In other words, the kashrus agencies are already legislating their morality. There is no reason to think it only will apply in these two instances because there is no connection between these two things and the kosher status of food.

We need to stop using the word kosher for things other than food. Yes, the word is a general term but it has evolved into a word that describes whether food can be eaten by orthodox Jews who keep kosher. We don’t eat anything that is not kosher. Using the word kosher for phones and Internet implies that the non-kosher versions are not allowed to be used. This is sophomoric and divisive.

If anything, the kashrus agencies should be concerned with the ethics and morality of the actual food. This is something they have resisted time and time again. I am not recommending they get into the ethics of food business, but if they must expand their business and purview of supervision I think that is the first place they should be looking to legislate seeing as they have the knowledge and expertise to monitor and report on that aspect of food production. But teens mingling and phones? They don’t belong there at all.

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Israeli Food Exports to US Reaches a Record $224 Million in 2012

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Exports of Israeli Foods and Beverages to the United States reached a record $224 million in 2012, reported Kosher Today, which attributed the statistics to the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute.

While it spelled a 3% increase over 2011, it represented nearly 50% growth since 2008 when exports were valued at only $144 million. Sources told Kosher Today that the dramatic increase in Israeli food exports was due in large measure to a far “more aggressive marketing strategy at all levels by the Israeli manufacturers and their US representatives.”

The Export Institute has stepped up its activities with a more robust presence at the annual Kosherfest and an impressive showing at other shows including the upcoming Fancy Food Show, June 30 to July 2.

Israeli foods have become a significant part of the kosher food aisle with American kosher food manufacturers increasingly importing Israeli products. One reason for the growing popularity of Israeli manufactured products is “vastly improved quality and packaging,” says one major retailer.

While it was hard to find anyone who would offer a prediction for sales in the coming five years, several Israelis believe that it will reach $500 million by 2018.

Can Kosher Sausages Be Kosher If They Are ‘Pork-Flavored?

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

A vegetarian food company in Britain has raised the hackles of rabbis by selling its certified kosher sausages without approval for adding flavoring that gave them the taste of pork.

The same company also sold a kosher certified vegetarian product with the flavor of shrimp.

“It makes me sick when I think of people who drool for something that looks like and smells like the real thing, referring to non-kosher “treif” foods, said one rabbi quoted by the New York-based Kosher Today newsletter.

He declared, “My stomach turned when I saw a [kosher certification] ‘hechsher’ on kosher shrimp.”

Many American rabbis and even the venerable Orthodox Union (OU) have allowed many foods to retain a kosher certification even if the flavors give them the taste of non-kosher food.

However, the Manchester rabbinical council that certified the Redwood Whole Foods as kosher also had that the kosher symbol not be used on precuts that are flavored to taste like non-kosher foods, such as pork and shrimp.

In Israel, Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger two years ago gave his blessing for a unique goose species that tastes exactly like pork. The species was introduced by Spanish farmers, and the Chief Rabbi ruled that the meat is totally kosher.

He cited a Talmudic source that God provided a kosher substitute with the same taste as its non-kosher counterpart.

Rabbi Metzger said at the time that observant Jews  may be “disgusted” when first tasting kosher meat with the taste of pork but that they “eventually get used to it.”

Airline Glatt Kosher Demand Doubles

Monday, April 8th, 2013

The number of travelers requesting kosher meals continues to rise, and requests for glatt kosher meals has more than doubled in the past five years, according to one source.

Several travel agents reached by KosherToday concur that the number of travelers requesting kosher food has risen throughout the world and the airlines and the airline catering industry are apparently responding.

In Canada, Gate Gourmet, a Swiss-headquartered company that serves 14 major airlines at Trudeau, including Air Canada, recently opened a kosher kitchen supervised by MK of Montreal. Gate Gourmet operates a similar kosher kitchen at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport serving more 15 airlines, including El Al Israel Airlines.

In Montreal, Gate Gourmet is already considering extending its kosher services beyond the airline industry, to perhaps retailers, institutions or even large private events, as it has been doing in Toronto.

In Britain, Hermolis caterers, the exclusive kosher airline service of British Air as well as many other airline carriers from China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, is said to have significantly expanded its operations in the past five years.

Court Upholds Citi Field’s Ban on Sale of Kosher Food on Shabbat

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

A federal appeals court told a kosher hot dog vendor in New York that its agreement with Citi Field precludes it from selling kosher products at the stadium on Shabbat.

Kosher Sports Inc. had a 10-year contract with Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, to sell hot dogs, sausages and other kosher products in the stadium through October 2018. In 2010, the kosher food distributor sued Citi Field operators for preventing its workers from selling their products on Friday nights and Saturdays, and for attempting to stop the company from obtaining a fourth food cart.

In its ruling Tuesday, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York found that the agreement “did not cover when or where KSI could sell its kosher food products,” and therefore Citi Field was within its rights to restrict sales on the Sabbath. The court also awarded Citi Field $55,000 and rejected Kosher Sports Inc.’s request to reverse a court decision from February 2012 that found the vendor failed to make payments on time.

“KSI had no right under the unambiguous terms of the agreement to sell its products at Citi Field on Fridays and Saturdays,” the court wrote.

The vendor launched its $1 million lawsuit three years ago, claiming that it had lost $500,000 in profits because its stands were not allowed to open during Sabbath games or events. Kosher Sports said it had received permission from kosher-certifying authorities to open the stands to sell food items on the Sabbath, but the rabbi who certifies the stands denied that claim.

Obama Must Keep Kosher for Passover at King David Hotel

Monday, March 11th, 2013

President Barack Obama will have to eat kosher for Passover meals, without bread, during his stay the King David Hotel next week, Haaretz reported.

“We’re used to hosting heads of state and also American presidents, but this situation is very special for us because it’s so close to Pesach [Passover]. For us it will be double the preparations,” the hotel’s manager, Dror Danino, told the newspaper.

That means lots of vegetables and no bread and no noodles or any other foods containing leavened bread.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-must-keep-kosher-for-passover-at-king-david-hotel/2013/03/11/

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