Sunday, February 27, 2005

Is the meat you are buying Glatt? Is it even kosher? Flatbush "Kosher spot" scandal indicates that supervision of our Kashrut industry has large holes

5 Comments:

At 7:58 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

1)
http://www.koshertoday.com/#10

Analysis
“How Could It Have Happened?” Rabbis Wonder

Rabbis throughout the country continue to debate how to prevent a reoccurrence of the scandal that rocked the kosher community last week. A Brooklyn retailer turned distributor relabeled “kosher” flanken as “glatt kosher,” misleading thousands of consumers who opt for the higher standard meat. What is most troubling to the rabbis is that the abuse happened at what is on the surface a perfect system. The proprietor was an Orthodox Jew with strong roots in the community and his business had the kosher oversight of a well-respected local certification. Perfect combination? Not really, say the rabbis, since the proprietor had access to seals and labels and took advantage of a shortage of the coveted flanken to profit from the discounted “kosher” (non-glatt) stock. To require each store that repackages meat to have a kosher supervisor, say the rabbis, is just not practical since most smaller retail stores could hardly afford the estimated $45,000 that such a mashgiach would cost and passing the cost onto the consumer is also out of the question. The best advice that rabbis were able to give their constituents from the pulpit was “buyers beware!” Rabbi Menachem Weissmandl of Cong. Nitra in Monsey NY went a step further. He placed ads in the Orthodox Jewish weeklies warning consumers about the pitfalls of repackaged meats. “The public should be aware that the hashgacha that had supervised the production of such foods takes no responsibility for the kashrus of products once the kashrus seals on the original package are broken. Any claims that such repackaged products are kosher – or produced under hashgacha – are based solely upon the reliability of the storeowner and/or its hashgacha agency.” The rabbi went on to warn consumers to buy repackaged meats only from stores that have a reliable kosher supervision or to purchase products in the manufacturer’s packages bearing the original kosher designation of the hashgacha that actually supervised the production. After all the progress that has been made in recent years to tighten up supervision of kosher, which is much to the credit of the kosher supervision agencies, the message from the pulpit was clear: “An educated consumer is still the best kosher consumer.”

2) An example of warnings being issued by kashrut organizations in light of this problem:

http://www.kashrut.com/Alerts/?alert=A1368

K’hal Adath Jeshurun ("_KAJ_") supervision on meat and poultry products is and always has been limited to products in their original packaging as distributed or sold by establishments under KAJ direct supervision. These products can be identified by the KAJ symbol. Establishments that are not under KAJ supervision are/ _never_/ authorized to place the "KAJ" symbol on any product. Please call the KAJ Kashrus Hotline (845-425-9089) with any questions as to whether a product or establishment is under KAJ supervision.
The KAJ is aware that establishments not under KAJ supervision may re-pack products which are sold as KAJ-supervised products. In those cases it is the responsibility of the consumer to ascertain whether those meat and poultry products are in fact KAJ-supervised products. If an establishment that re-packs KAJ-supervised products is under the supervision of a Rav or kashrus certifying agency, the consumer is relying on that Rav or agency for the accuracy of the claim that the re-packed meat or poultry product is in fact a KAJ-supervised product.

 
At 8:10 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

see discussion at:
http://www.hydepark.co.il/hydepark/topic.asp?topic_id=1283007&whichpage=1

includes this post:

Please note that the information below is current as of 2/14/05. Anything directly related to information dealing with Kehilah Kashrus has been checked for accuracy by Rabbi Kenneth Auman. Please read the entire piece carefully and please do not come to any conclusions that are not stated explicitly below.

The Situation Regarding Kosher Spot

Background

AgriProcessors

AgriProcessors, located in Postville, Iowa, is the largest producer of glatt kosher meat in the US. All of the glatt meat that it produces is under the supervision of the OU. It produces several brands of Glatt meat. These include Aaron's Rubashkin (also under KAJ), Supreme Kosher (also under Rav Weissmandel) Margareten (also under the Margareten Rebbe or Rav), and Shor Habor also (under the Crown Heights Beis Din).


Agri produces four 'types' of meat: Bais Yosef Glatt, ordinary glatt, ordinary kosher and treif. Only a certain percentage of the animals kosher slaughtered turn out to meet the standards of glatt. At AgriProcessors those animals that are found to be kosher, but not glatt kosher, are sold under the David's label and are under the supervision of Rabbi Asher Zeilingold of MN. Some animals do not qualify as kosher at all and are, of course, sold as treif.



Kehilah Kashrus

Kehilah Kashrus is a local, non-profit, Brooklyn, kosher supervising agency. It was formed in the 1990s with the goal of raising the standards of kosher supervision. Rabbi Kenneth Auman of the Young Israel of Flatbush is one of the founders and takes an active role in workings of Kehilah. Rabbi Auman told me that the organization has at times actually loses money.

Kehilah gives supervision to establishments owned by observant Jews. In general there is not a full time Mashgiach at the establishment, but regular announced and irregular unannounced visits are made by Kehilah mashgichim. There are some establishment, such as busy restaurants, where Kehilah does have a mashgiach temidi. However, in many establishments it felt that this is not necessary, since the owner is a Shomer Torah and Mitzvos.

Distribution of Kosher Meat

AgriProcessors meat is distributed to retail stores in two ways. Large retailers will purchase directly from AgriProcessors. Smaller retailers in general find it advantageous to buy meat produced at the Agri plant from a distributor. Some of these distributors carry glatt kosher, non-glatt kosher and treif meat.

Kosher Spot

Kosher Spot, located on Avenue J in Brooklyn, opened a few years ago primarily as a take-out and catering establishment. It was under the supervision of Kehilah Kashrus. Its owner and his father had at one time run the Meal Mart store that was on Avenue J. Subsequently they ran the Kosher Plaza Supermarket take-out that was located on Coney Island Avenue between H and I. Both of these establishments no longer exist. When Chaimowitz on Avenue J went out of business a number of months ago, Kosher Spot began to sell fresh meat to the public.

Shortly after seeing an announcement that Kosher Spot was now selling fresh meat, I called the proprietor and asked him whose meat he was using. He told me that he was using Rubashkin meat (from AgriProcessors). I then asked him why he didn't sell meat from Alle Packing. (Alle Packing meat is also known as Satmar meat, Weinstock meat and Nirbater meat.) I pointed out that there were very few places in Flatbush that sold Satmar meat and suggested that he offer an alternative to those who preferred to use Satmar meat instead of Rubashkin meat. He told me that Satmar meat was much more expensive than Rubashkin meat and that is why he was selling Rubashkin meat.

A few months ago I saw meat with labels indicating that it came from Kosher Spot for sale in Paperific located on Coney Island Avenue between K and L. This meat was also sold in the Paperific store in Boro Park, Friedman's Grocery in Boro Park (13th Ave and 40th) and in at least one store in Crown Heights known as the Shuk.

A Kashrus Violation is Detected

Kosher Spot did not get the majority of its meat directly from AgriProcessors. Instead, it dealt with a distributor that carries glatt and non-glatt kosher meats as well as treif meat. The cases of glatt meat and non-glatt meat from AgriProcessors carry different codes on them, so that anyone who is familiar with the system can tell immediately if a case of meat is glatt kosher or non-glatt kosher.

About two weeks ago someone was in Kosher Spot and saw a case of meat from AgriProcessors with a non-glatt (but kosher) code on it. Kehilah Kashrus was notified of this and had someone from the organization at Kosher Spot within 20 minutes of being notified. However, when this person got there, he could find no evidence of non-glatt meat. When the proprietor was asked about this, he denied that there had ever been any non-glatt kosher meat in his store.

Kehilah was still suspicious and therefore on Feb.1 put a mashgiach temidi in the store. They also began checking into the meat that Kosher Spot had been ordering from its distributor. After much checking and considerable questioning of the proprietor, it was determined that Kosher Spot had indeed been selling non-glatt kosher meat as glatt kosher meat. The proprietor then admitted that he had sold ordinary kosher meat as glatt kosher. This led to Kehilah removing its supervision from Kosher Spot last week. The store is now closed.

In ads that appeared in this past week's Jewish Press, Hamodia, and Yated, Kehilah notified the public that any meat labeled as coming from Kosher Spot that was packed before 2/1/05 was not to be used. Paperific has and will continue to give anyone who bought the meat in question from its stores a full refund if the customer brings it back. I believe that Friedman's is doing the same thing.

According to Rabbi Auman it is known for sure that Kosher Spot sold non-glatt, but nonetheless kosher, flankin from AgriProcessors labeled as glatt kosher. This may well have been the situation with other cuts of meat also.

What Should One Do?

Rabbi Auman told me that entire situation was presented to Rav Dovid Feinstein, and he paskened that someone who cooked meat that came from Kosher Spot before February 1 need not kasher their pots. I was told that Rav Dovid Cohen said the same thing in his Shabbos Drasha yesterday (2/12). However, I have been told that Rabbi Hillel David told at least one person that if it were his pots, he would kasher them. I have heard contradictory statements made in the name of Rav Yisroel Reisman. According to some he said one should kasher one's pots. According to others, he said that there was no need to do this.

In any event, all agree that one should not use any meat from Kosher Spot that was packaged before 2/1/05.

 
At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Shmarya said...

1. No fool-proof system can or will exist. Even in Talmudic times this type of fraud happened.

2. What we do now to assertain kashrut is above and beyond what the Shulkhan Arukh requires.

3. Someone who *appears* to be frum and trustworthy can always scam the system – but the consequences of that fraud are *very* severe.

4. In this case, the owner lost his business and his reputation and will most likely *never* be in the kosher food business again – hardly an incentive for fraud.

5. This part of the system is not broken and does *not* have large holes.

 
At 10:11 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

>1. No fool-proof system can or
>will exist. Even in Talmudic
>times this type of fraud
>happened.

True.

>2. What we do now to assertain
>kashrut is above and beyond what
>the Shulkhan Arukh requires.

Correct, but we pay large supervision fees to organizations which promote themselves as having "higher standards".

>3. Someone who *appears* to be
>frum and trustworthy can always
>scam the system – but the
>consequences of that fraud are
>*very* severe.

Absolutely.

>4. In this case, the owner lost
>is business and his reputation
>and will most likely *never* be
>in the kosher food business
>again – hardly an incentive for
>fraud.

I hope so, but unfortunately "never" is often not as long as it should be.

>5. This part of the system is
>not broken and does *not* have
>large holes.

1) The consumer believes the supervision prevents what happened in this situation. There are expectations that are not being met.

2) I discussed this case with others over the past weeks and other older similar cases. Preventing this fraud is actually not as difficult as it seems. Most cases such as this come to light for one reason: it is discovered that the owner is selling more kosher/Glatt meat than it is buying. If there is a focus on monitoring similar operations in this area, such fraud will be harder to commit.

3) As a result of this case I've heard rumblings in several kashtut agencies about tightening up/enforcing existing standards.

 
At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am posting this comment here because i could not get on your e-mail. The name of the music promoter who won't give his wife a GET is Sheya Mendlowitz. Not only will his ex spouse and children not be embarrassed, you will be doing a huge mitzvah by exposing his name.They are the innocent victims in all this and therefore are ashamed of absolutely nothing. It's only unfortunate now they share a last name. I applaud you for having the integrity to post the name. thanks

 

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