February 16, 2009

Kashrus Agencies Could Pull Kosher Certifications Where Lives May be in Peril

New York…The action by the Orthodox Union (OU) to withdraw its certification from the Peanut Corporation of America did not come as a surprise to rabbis involved in kashrus. Peanut Corporation owns three peanut-processing plants, in Georgia, Texas and Virginia. A federal investigation into the salmonella outbreak, which has killed eight people and sickened 600 others in 44 states, has centered on the company's Blakely, Ga., plant, which was shut down last month. The rabbis say that kashrus agencies would almost always withdraw the certification if there was even a possibility that the contaminated products could either kill or in jure those that consumed the products. Federal investigators say Peanut Corporation's Georgia plant knowingly shipped products contaminated with salmonella on 12 occasions in 2007 and 2008. The company makes peanut butter for institutions such as nursing homes and schools, and processes peanut ingredients used by other food companies in products ranging from energy bars to candy to dog biscuits. The OU withdrew its certification from all 3 plants.