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Say Cheese!

Leah Reisman

When you hear the word Shavuos, I bet you start thinking about cheesecake. And when you hear the word dairy, I bet you’re thinking Mehadrin

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

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The Makings of Mehadrin

Mehadrin Dairy Corporation is one of the biggest suppliers of chalav Yisrael dairy products in the world, but back when it first opened it was a small operation, producing and packaging dairy products out of a little garage in New York City. Then, in the 1950s, many frum Holocaust survivors arrived in New York. Suddenly there was an increased demand for chalav Yisrael products. Mehadrin started by producing cottage cheese and plain, old-fashioned yogurts. They obtained milk from a farm in Long Island and prepared their products in the little garage. Everything was packaged by hand. The products were delivered to local groceries in a truck full of ice. By two o’clock in the afternoon, the ice would start melting. The delivery men had to work quickly to ensure that the products wouldn’t spoil!

 

The Deal with Dairy

Today Mehadrin operates three farms near Buffalo, New York, housing a total of 8,000 cows. A different mashgiach lives on each farm all year round, to ensure that kashrus is not compromised. The cows are milked by machines twice a day, and the milk then goes into special tankers. The mashgiach seals each tank before it’s sent off to the production plant.

Mehadrin operates several production plants in the Buffalo region. Each facility produces a specific dairy product, such as cottage cheese or yogurt. Up to 30 trailers of milk are delivered to the local plants on a daily basis. When each shipment of milk arrives, a mashgiach ensures that the chalav Yisrael seal is intact. The seal is broken with the mashgiach present, and then production can begin. The various dairy items are then produced and packaged by automated machines and robots.

Once the products are packaged and ready to go, they are trucked to Mehadrin’s main warehouse in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The warehouse has 100,000 square feet of storage space, the equivalent of about two football fields! Mehadrin also uses a plant in Wisconsin to produce hard cheeses, and another plant in Los Angeles to produces soft cheeses. 

 

These products also get shipped to Elizabeth. Once everything is consolidated in one place, the creamy, cheesy delights are ready to be delivered to local supermarkets in the tristate area, as well as far-flung places around the globe. Merchandise is shipped to England, Eretz Yisrael, and even all the way to Australia. Mehadrin products are also sold in big chain supermarkets such as Shoprite and Walmart. Currently, Mehadrin is the exclusive United States distributor of Nestle products from Eretz Yisrael. Yum!

 

Dairy Delights

When the folks at Mehadrin decide to introduce a new product they spend months testing it to guarantee that taste and kashrus are not compromised. For example, they may try seven different varieties of cocoa before choosing which one should be added to a yogurt or ice cream. When they need to choose between different varieties of a product, Mehadrin holds a blind tasting session at their headquarters in Elizabeth. That means that people get to taste and rate the different options without knowing the ingredients in each one. Mehadrin often holds blind tasting sessions in one of their conference rooms after Minchah. Employees taste the products, and they invite others in as well. People who don’t keep kosher have told the owners of Mehadrin that their products taste better than famous non-kosher brands. I bet you’re licking your lips and wishing you were a blind taster at Mehadrin! (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 710)

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