August 8, 2011

Kosher Pork? Discovering Innocent Mistakes May be a Stretch, say Kashrus Officials

Queens, NY…by Kosher Today Staff Reporters…It’s considered the poster for “treife” (non-kosher), explicitly outlawed in the Torah, and shunned by Jews since time immemorial. Yet, somehow, several packages of “kosher” pork appeared on a Queens supermarket shelf recently his past week, much to the surprise and shock of local consumers. A rouge photographer snapped a few pictures of the impossibly kosher bacon, stamped with a Shechitat Beit Yoseph Hechsher, at an Associated Supermarket in Sunnyside, Queens. In the end, it was ascertained that the labeler that the supermarket was using had been previously owned by a kosher butcher shop, which had forgotten to take off the kosher hechsher from the label machines repertoire. According to the Orthodox Union, this problem of mislabeling stems from the computer generated nature of the labels, a potentially worrisome subject, as one official termed it, “a nightmare waiting to happen.” But the incidents raised some serious concerns amongst kashrus officials that the labeling incident may be more than “a fluke.” Several kashrus officials used the incident as support for a growing movement to return kashrus inspectors in New York State who were summarily dismissed in the waning days of New York’s outgoing governor David Patterson. Others felt strongly that more consumer vigilance was needed that “go beyond a camera’s eye seeking to capture an oddity,” said one rabbi, who said that there are far more “innocent mistakes” than the public really knows.

Rabbi Luzer Weiss, Director of Kosher Law Enforcement of the NYS Dept. of Agriculture & Markets, said that the pork incident was an aberration and “in fact this is the first time I’ve seen something like this, which I assumed was a mistake.” But he and other rabbis agree that as the kosher market continues to grow, so do the “innocent mistakes.”