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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘KOSHER’

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.

Ruling Returns Kosher Meals to Florida Inmates

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

A federal judge has ordered the Florida prisons service to provide kosher meals to all prisoners with a “sincere religious basis” by July 1.

The Florida Department of Corrections canceled its kosher meal service six years ago, citing the expense and has since promised to reinstitute its kosher meal service in all its facilities. It has been dragging its heels, and kosher meals are offered at only one state prison.

The U.S. government last August sued the corrections department in the Miami federal court for ending the kosher service. It argued that the current meal policy violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 that allows prisoners to worship according to their religious beliefs.

An average of 250 inmates used the kosher meal service, including Muslims.

More Kosher Snack Foods Coming Up for Passover

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Snack food manufacturers are increasingly turning to the Orthodox Union for kosher certification to expand their markets during the Passover holiday.

Classic Foods announced last week that the company and its branded snack products will be kosher for Passover, under the certification of the OU, which will put Kettle Classics, California Classics, and Baked Classics on the shelves in the growing category of Passover snacks.

One reason for the increased demand for kosher for Passover snacks is that a  significant segment of the kosher market is younger or made up of large families with many children.

One distributor estimated that sales of snack foods on Passover have grown by more than 30 percent in the last three years. Even brands like PepsiCo’s Lays produces a Passover chip in Israel which makes its way to the American market. Some stores that in years past had only a small section for snacks now feature entire aisles and said one retailer, “I could probably fill another.” But one retailer complained, “My problem is that I can’t do anything with what is leftover since I have few takers after the Yom Tov ends.”

DC’s Eli’s Restaurant to Relocate on Same Street

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Eli’s Restaurant, a popular kosher eatery in Washington frequented by politicians, will move instead of closing down.

After announcing in October that the restaurant would close because of a redevelopment project, it announced this week that it would move three blocks from its current location at the southeast corner of the intersection of N and 20th streets, NW, where it has been since 2004.

A petition  circulated on Change.org, garnered more than 400 signatures from supporters who stressed to the owners “how important it is that they find a new location in DC and continue to serve the downtown Jewish community.”

At least one other kosher eatery is open in downtown Washington, at the local JCC.

Noah’s Ark Is Gone but Lower East Side Memories Are Kosher

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

For the old-timers still living on the Lower East Side, the recent closing of Noah’s Ark on Grand Street only evoked memories when Jews from throughout the New York metropolitan area would come to the East Side for the blintzes and “perogies” of Ratner’s and for the Chinese and deli items at Bernstein’s on Essex.

As the kosher restaurant scene in New York continues to grow, it is but a memory in the Lower East Side, of the days when almost every block had a kosher butcher store and where the best knishes could be consumed.

While the Lower East Side itself is far from a relic with many young professional Jews even moving into the neighborhood, it is no longer the kosher hub it was just a few decades ago. Jeremy, a business major at NYU, has roots in the Lower East Side. His mother’s parents grew up there, but he does not necessarily lament the closing of the last kosher restaurant in the immediate area. “My wife and I consider ourselves residents of Manhattan and within a subway stop or two, we have as many kosher restaurants as we want.”

It isn’t as if the East Side is totally bereft of kosher. It still has its share of pizza shops and bagel stores as well as a kosher grocery, but to the old timers it just doesn’t seem right. Said one retired typesetter: “We didn’t go out very much even when there were all those restaurants but it was nice to know that they were there.”

One iconic company remains on the lower East Side and in fact has recently released a film on its heritage there. Aaron Streit’s has been making Matzo on the Lower East Side since 1916. Even the Daily News was not able to do  a complete eulogy as it reported on the demise of Noah’s Ark. The News instead noted that with all of the new kosher restaurants opening in Brooklyn and Manhattan, “kosher is busting out!”

New Kosher Certification to Focus on Food Safety

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

A Canadian rabbi has created a new kind of Kosher certification named “Kosher Check” that not only makes sure foods are kosher under Jewish dietary laws but also monitors manufacturers to make sure they conform to food-safety controls.

Rabbi Avraham Feigelstock, who sits on the Vancouver Rabbinical Court, said, “Approval will be predicated on food manufacturers giving clear assurance they are observing additional, elevated standards for food safety, beyond those regulations mandated by government authorities.”

Consumer studies have revealed for years that large segments of Jewish, and non-Jewish customers alike, buy Kosher certified foods based on their belief that such products are manufactured to superior standards of food safety.

Among the food-safety programs considered benchmarks for Kosher Check, originally known as BC Kosher,  are those regarded as ‘best-practice’ by quality assurance authorities and food professionals worldwide.

“Kosher Check is intended to be value-added for customers, since it will provide them an extra measure of confidence concerning food-safety,” he said.

Richard Wood, Kosher Check business manager added that an initiative to promote awareness among consumers of the distinctive Kosher Check identification – a conjoined capital “K” and “check-mark,” with the program name and tag line, “Kosher Checked. Globally Accepted.” – would follow soon after.

Latest Thanksgivukkah Shtick: Turkey-Filled Doughnuts

Monday, November 11th, 2013

This year’s coincidence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah is one of those events that no one outside of the United States feels he is lacking, and the latest gimmick of turkey and cranberry-filled doughnuts raises the question of how many American Jews are so thrilled about it.

Since 1888, 1899 and 1918, the two holidays never have occurred at the same time until this year, and after that, it won’t happen again until 2070 and 2165.

Because of quirks in the system of calculating the calendars, the two holidays will not occur until the year 79811, give or take a day.

New York’s Zucker’s Bakery probably won’t be around then, and it is questionable whether Thanksgiving will still be in existence, so the bakery this year is outdoing Baskin-Robbins’ weirdo flavors and has come up with all sorts of doughnuts for those who religiously observe the customs of eating turkey on Thanksgiving and doughnuts on Hanukkah.

Zucker’s, based in Manhattan, has four twin-holiday menu items, take them or leave them.

First, there are spiced pumpkin doughnuts, complete with turkey and gravy filling.

If that doesn’t suit your fancy, try the same doughnuts with turkey and cranberry filling for a more Thanksgiving-style taste.

Two more options are spiced pumpkin doughnuts with cranberry sauce filling and sweet potato doughnuts with toasted marshmallow cream filling.

Coming up with the delicacies was “fun” event for the bakery’s co-owner and baker Melissa Feit, whose company is selling the Thanksgivukkah doughnuts for the fun price of  $3.50 to $5 a piece, meaning the bakery does not pay you to eat them but you have to pay the bakery.

Now, what would happen if Thanksgiving coincided with Passover?

Unleavened doughnuts with horseradish anyone?

Quebec to Tighten Regulations on kosher, Halal Meat Production

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Quebec’s agricultural minister is looking to tighten regulations for kosher and halal meat production.

“We want the slaughter to happen in the most complete conditions of hygiene and cleanliness,” Quebec Minister of Agriculture François Gendron said, in comments reported by Montreal radio station CJAD last week.

The minister said he would announce a plan for new regulations sometime this fall. A spokeswoman for the minister confirmed to CJAD that he still intended to release a plan, though she could not specify when.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or CFIA, oversees animal slaughter regulations nationally, so Quebec could only regulate meat that is produced within the province and not exported.

Dovid Russ, COO of major Canadian kosher meat operation Mehadrin, told the Jewish news website Bill613.com that new regulations would be unnecessary.

“The CFIA has one of the highest standards of food processing,” Russ said. “Quebec is trying to get more involved for absolutely no reason whatsoever.”

Quebec’s Halal Meat Association told CJAD they supported the new regulations because it could improve the public image of ritual slaughter, but said it found changes unnecessary.

“I think this misunderstanding is related to Islamophobia,” spokesman Mohamed Ghalem told CJAD.

The ruling party in Quebec, Parti Quebecois, drew flack from Jewish groups when it criticized ritual slaughter last year. In a party statement in spring of 2012, the Parti Quebecois said the slaughter of animals for halal meat production “slams directly against Quebecois values.”

“If you read between the lines there is really ethnic bashing, which in my opinion is odious, unacceptable and reeks of intolerance,” Lawrence Bergman, a Jewish legislator from the Liberal Party, told JTA at the time.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/quebec-to-tighten-regulations-on-kosher-halal-meat-production/2013/10/30/

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