December 14, 2009

New YorkÕs Dominance in Kosher Calls for Extra Vigilance, Kosher Sources Say

New York…A team of approximately ten inspectors continue to crisscross the state to monitor compliance with New York’s kosher laws, albeit with a far different mission than the original laws which were on the books for more than a century. According to Rabbi Luzer Weiss, director of the New York State Department of Agriculture's Kosher Law Enforcement division, the inspectors seek to assure that manufacturers and other kosher institutions comply with disclosure laws that provide consumers with the information they need to make decisions as to whether the products meet their kosher standards. The requirement to disclose who certifies a kosher product or establishment is becoming the norm in many states throughout the country, even as new challenges are being mounted by the Commack butchers who succeeded in bringing down the original kosher food laws. Kosher sources say that the sheer number of manufacturers, food establishments, and other kosher food vendors in the state makes New York a vital area for strict enforcement of the kosher food laws. Kosher supervision rabbis say that “self-policing of kashrus will not work in this state as the number of abuses continues to mount.” Kashrus agencies and various web sites that issue kashrus alerts say New York, because of its size and large kosher consumer base (previously estimated at as many as 1.2 million consumers), is rife for kashrus abuses.” Some argue that the kashrus standards would benefit from an even larger force of kashrus inspectors and many point out that the disclosure model frequently fails to protect unsuspecting consumers. They point to the many elderly Jews who are often victim of “kosher” products and establishments that don’t meet the lifetime standards of the consumers.