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Keep it Kosher

By Eytan Kobre

What’s really going on in the kashrus industry of 2013? Five ofNorth America’s top kashrus experts step up to the plate for a candid look on what we’re eating — and what’s eating us.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


Public interest in the state of kashrus seems to move in cycles. Long periods elapse with little discussion of the issues, despite a vague awareness that there are ongoing problems that need to be addressed. Then, suddenly, a scandal breaks — like the Monsey meat scandal six years ago, or the recent Doheny affair in Los Angeles — and the topic takes center stage in communal consciousness. Questions like “Can we really ensure the kashrus of what we eat?” are urgently pondered in articles and Shabbos table discussions. In an effort to clarify the issues around this pillar of Jewish living, Mishpacha brought together five leading national kashrus experts — Rabbi Usher Anshel Eckstein, Rabbi Moshe Elefant, Rabbi Saul Emanuel, Rabbi Don Yoel Levy, and Rabbi Avrohom Union — for a two-part series on this most complex and confusing arena. In Part I, they share their insights and experience in an increasingly complicated global industry.


There has been fabulous grow

th in the kosher marketplace in recent years, with production expanding into ever more far-flung foreign venues. But is the great proliferation of kosher products a mixed blessing? Have kashrus standards been watered down to enable production to keep pace with growing demand from kosher consumers? And has such demand forced kosher producers to expand to the point where high standards can’t be met?


Rabbi Levy: I think I’ve been in the kashrus field the longest of everyone here, full-time since 1977, and in all the years, I got one phone call from a consumer complaining that we didn’t give a hechsher on something. So to say that there’s pressure out there to give hechsherim on more products, I don’t know that it exists. As for the concern that kosher production is expanding to foreign countries where we can’t provide the same level of supervision, the fact is we now have a division that focuses solely on foreign production. So for example, at any one time, we have four or five people visitingChina, and the same is true all over the world.

Regarding the proliferation of kosher products, we have to remember that we here in this room all happen to be chareidishe Yidden who eat glatt kosher and drink chalav Yisrael, but there are a lot of people out there on the fringe who try to keep kosher, and the more kosher products we have, the more people are going to keep kosher. But this does not mean we will lower the standards of kashrus for these products.


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