New York – The news that Bimbo was ending its kosher certification came as a shock to many kosher consumers, especially those that rely on such kosher breads as Friehofer, Thomas, and Entenmann’s. Bimbo Bakeries USA, the largest baking company in the US, has now caved into public pressure which according to many by far exceeded the pressure on Stella Doro when it decided to end its pareve program and to go dairy. According to some sources, Bimbo received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails complaining about the company’s decision. Several rabbis used the pulpit to urge congregants to register their complaints. In smaller markets, kosher consumers almost totally rely on the Bimbo breads. The company ultimately renegotiated its kosher certification with such major kashrus organizations like the Orthodox Union (OU).
Bimbo Bakeries USA, a subsidiary of Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo, entered the US bread market in 1997 and currently owns almost all of the baking brands in the US. They produce many well-known brands, including Sara Lee, Entenmann’s, Thomas, Freihofer’s and others.
Said the company: “Removing the kosher certification from some of our products was strictly a business-process decision to enable more efficient operations, and it was one we did not make lightly.” Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Orthodox Union said: “There is no question that the large-scale public outcry is what led to the company’s change of heart.” The Bimbo reversal is reminiscent of the outcry that followed an announcement by Stella D’Oro when it announced that it was going dairy. The Stella D’Oro Biscuit Company was taken over by Nabisco Foods in 1992, which was bought by Kraft Foods. The decision to substitute dairy chocolate for the more expensive pareve type in the Stella D’Oro line was immediately challenged not only by Orthodox Jews but also by the lactose-intolerant who also look for the pareve label. The company ultimately reversed its decision.