September 22, 2022

Kashrus Agencies Move to Further Tighten Safeguards in Restaurants

Chicago…The fallout from what is now known as the Manalapan kashrut scandal continues as some 85 kashrus officials met via Zoom last Wednesday to discuss further safeguards to prevent non-kosher food from getting into kosher restaurants. Kosher Chinese Express in Manalapan subsequently had its kosher certification pulled by the OK Kosher Certification agency and the restaurant was forced to close. The owner of the New Jersey restaurant had been filmed loading cases of what appeared to be non-kosher chicken and meat into his vehicle. The safeguards were put in place years ago after similar scandals have made such incidents extremely rare. Most agencies require a mashgiach to be present whenever the restaurant is open, that the keys to the kitchen be entrusted only to the mashgiach, and that the mashgichim closely scrutinize all deliveries of meat. Some restaurants are also equipped with surveillance cameras. Rabbi Moshe Elefant, COO of the Orthodox Union kashrus division says that the Manalapan incident should be a wake-up call to kashrus agencies to add additional safeguards including hiring fairly paid quality experienced mashgichim. Other officials told Kosher Today that the shortage of mashgichim is of great concern but can be mitigated by raising the pay of mashgichim.