December 6, 2010

Kosher Sources Charge New York State Abandons Kosher Consumers

New York…Kosher consumers in New York State will have little protection from fraud and misrepresentations come January 1st, kosher sources charge. The State plans to cut the last two kosher inspectors at the end of the year, leaving the Kosher Law Enforcement Bureau of the State’s Agriculture Department with only its director, Rabbi Luzer Weiss. Several Orthodox Jewish organizations as well as Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D) protested the cuts, arguing that the State’s action would leave the nation’s largest concentration of kosher consumers, as many as 1.5 million customers, without any state protection. Kashrus sources say that the inspectors who crisscrossed the state uncovered many abuses under the State’s requirements to properly inform customers of the nature of the kosher certification. One rabbi told Kosher Today that the “inspectors were an enormous deterrent which was even more important than the actual cases of unauthorized usages of kosher symbols that they discovered.” Using early retirement and other budget-cutting measures, the State moved swiftly to cut ten kashrus inspectors in just four months.

Ironically, the State’s Attorney General’s office continues to fight a second lawsuit by Long Island (NY) kosher butcher Brian Yarmeisch, who successfully challenged New York’s 100-year old kosher laws in 2004. Yarmeisch seeks to prevent the state from continuing to enforce portions of its Agriculture and Markets Law. Sources say that the state’s Agriculture officials have demonstrated “little sympathy for protecting one of the largest kosher markets in the world.” They added, “The state seems to be totally ambivalent to its responsibility to protect kosher consumers from misleading kosher representation, which is no different than truth in advertising.”