New Kosher Inspections Seen As Better Than Nothing
01/11/11
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As New York State begins training food safety inspectors to replace kosher law enforcement staff, reaction in the Jewish community is mixed.

Some are skeptical that the 85 inspectors, who are in charge of checking sanitary conditions at bakeries, warehouses, slaughterhouses and other facilities will be able to effectively police compliance with the state’s laws regarding disclosure of kosher certification standards.

In a joint statement, the Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel of American and the Rabbinical Alliance expressed appreciation that the inspections will continue but said they will “continue to monitor the effectiveness of the new enforcement program during the next few months to assure that like all consumers, kosher consumers can be assured that what is represented as kosher certified is indeed kosher.”

In an interview Tuesday, David Zwiebel, executive vice president at Agudah said “Clearly this will be one small slice of a much larger pie that these inspectors will have to worry about. You wonder how effective it will be. On the other hand it’s better than not doing anything.”

Gov. David Paterson, who stepped down on Jan. 1, terminated the state’s kosher inspectors last month as part of budget cuts. His successor, Andrew Cuomo, ordered the safety inspectors to be trained to take on their work by Rabbi Luzer Weiss, director of the kosher law enforcement division of the Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Outgoing commissioner Patrick Hooker said last week the change will “consolidate responsibilities and eliminate overlapping services … saving the State nearly $1 million, all while providing the same level of service.”

Rabbi Yosef Wikler, editor of Kashrus magazine, said the new system is “a futile attempt to confuse the public that something is being done. When you take a safety inspector and add another job onto his workload you won’t get the same commitment.”

 

Last Update:

01/17/2011 - 13:41

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With all due respect, the politicians are pandering to the observant Jewish community. To suggest that the Food Safety Inspectors [the “State Inspectors”] will provide any meaningful protection to the orthodox kosher observant community is a bubbemeiser. As admitted by the Department of Agriculture and Markets in a press release, one of the primary reasons the Kosher Law Enforcement Bureau was effectively disbanded is because, under the "Kosher Laws" as enacted in 2004, the scope of the Kosher Law inspectors' authority was very limited. Yes the Kosher Law enforcers, whatever their titles, could enforce the requirement that any manufacturer, distributor or marketer of food represented to be kosher had to have the individual/agency representing the food to be kosher [the "kosher supervisor"] register with the Department of Agriculture and Market. The kosher supervisor, as a matter of law, need not be Jewish, learned in the Yoreah Deah or otherwise trained in the laws of kashruth of any denomination, e.g. the Karaite Jews' standard for kashruth would as legitimate as any orthodox standard. The State Inspector may check that the kosher supervisor has made the required posting in the establishment trafficking in foods represented to be kosher and the State Inspector may verify that the statutorily required log is maintained recording the kosher supervisor's supervisory inspections. The State Inspectors may not second guess the kosher supervisor as to what the kosher supervisor deems kosher. The State Inspectors may also verify that food sold by an establishment as kosher for off premises consumption will bear one of the statutorily required markings,"kosher" or "k" are sufficient, with nothing else to alert consumers that the product has been deemed kosher. Of course the required label does not give notice as to who deemed it kosher or by what standard. I suspect that those who are kosher observant will not find the inspections or the labeling sufficient to assure them of the acceptable kashruth of the food. As it should be, as provided for in Pirkei Olam, each should find for themselves a rabbi, not a NY State Food Safety Inspector, to guide them as to what is acceptably kosher for them. If your rabbi says that, for example, OU, Star K, OK, Cof K are acceptable then that is what you must look for not some label affixed to appease a State Food Safety Inspector.. Stop letting the politicians pander to you to get your vote.

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