February 13, 2012

Preserving the Integrity of Kashrus

The initial accusations that a large Long Island catering company was using the same kitchen for kosher and non-kosher foods seemed ominous and quite disturbing. But then as the story took on more traction even making it onto the major news channels, you learned that the accusations came from a “former” chef and general manager of Morrell Caterers, who apparently have a financial interest in the company and that the owner of Morrell was involved in some kind of major legal case related to an investment in a Dubai insurance scam. So where does that leave the kosher consumer? I wondered.  Rabbi Abraham Alper, the kashrus supervisor for the Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush said, "I have known them and respected them for decades and have personally witnessed them apply the highest standards of Jewish law to food preparation.  My confidence in their personal integrity and honesty is unwavering."

Rabbi Hershel Billet, a prominent Orthodox rabbi on Long Island did his own investigation: “The Lawrence operation has both a Glatt and non Glatt operation. Only the Glatt operation is supervised by the Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush. The Glatt ovens as well as Glatt utensils are all stored under lock and key with secured hasps when  not being used. All stove tops and sinks are kashered before each Glatt job. There is also a video camera system which monitors the kitchen at all times. The Vaad of Flatbush assures us that it is impossible for anything other than reliably Kosher food to be cooked on their utensils in Lawrence…Therefore, at present, it is my opinion that the Vaad Hakashrus of Flatbush hashgacha in both Lawrence and Woodbury is trustworthy and you need not be concerned about using either place from a Kashrut point of view.” So there you have it, kosher consumers are often left to uncomplicate complicated kashrus arrangements. One rabbi who called me to voice his opinion, said: “It is regrettable that kosher consumers have to wait until a scandal or the perception of a scandal hits before getting all the facts about a kosher operation.” Bottom line, according to my sources, no one that expected glatt kosher was ever fed treife.