Who Will Protect the Kosher Consumer?


kosher-kidBy Menachem Lubinsky

Emily, a Long Island housewife, was about to use an ingredient in a cake that she was preparing when her daughter picked up the box but could not find a kosher symbol. Emily was puzzled since she had picked up the product on the kosher shelf of a local supermarket. It turned out that the product was not kosher certified.

Almost daily, unsuspecting consumers are subject to this type of confusion in kosher that is so often the subjects of alerts and warnings posted by kashrus agencies. Since the beginning of the year, the OK Kosher Certification advised that some Kroeger Value Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips were mistakenly packed with the OK Pareve kosher symbol when the product was dairy. Imagine the surprise of some kosher consumers when they found “shrimp” in sardines. The OU warned that General Mills is discontinuing the OU-D kosher certification from all sizes of Bugles Original due to operational changes at the production sites, and will no longer be certified. Now comes the issue of stores that will still have the product with the OU as opposed to those who will have the newly labeled non kosher products.

Despite all the gains in kosher and the yeomen’s job by kashrus agencies, the kosher consumer is very vulnerable to unexpected bumps. It begs the question of how an industry of that size can allow itself to be unprotected from honest mistakes as well as intentional fraud.

I was shocked to see critics of kosher law enforcement suggest that government get out of the business of enforcing kosher food laws. Instead, they say, the community or kosher agencies should do the policing. Never mind that violators are no different than those who disregard truth in advertising or truth in packaging laws. Why not get rid of the Better Business Bureau and other enforcement of abuses and misrepresentations of all products. Let each industry police itself. How ridiculous, particularly in a state like New York that is the center of the kosher food industry in the US. Kosher food consumers deserve the same protection as all consumers do.



  1. I’m sorry to say. And I’m not disaagreeing or arguing with this artical.
    But I do want to say its hard enogh to keep things Kosher. So when people go to super markets when they could go to heimishe grocery stores, or they buy brand names instead of buying Gefen or Ungars. Because its cheaper or even because they claim its better which is not allways the case. Becasue it is made in the same plant many times. I know that out of town ther are many people are mesiras nefesh to eat kosher and its not all aways easy to find the koshe brand. But on the other hand we know that a lot of these comapanies go a long way to get products out to a lot of these far a way super markets. Like blooms, kedem, Quality frozen foods, I was once in small city in New hampshire I went in to a super market one night for a bottle of tynenol and to my surprise I found a a whole line of kosher items. I told my wife im buying a few things. She looked at me very starnge, I explained that I want them to keep on selling kosher products here so I just did it for that. If you don’t see it ask for it. 🙂

  2. None of the examples cited are any different with or without the NYS Kosher Inspectors.

    In a regular supermarket, it is not illegal to have a products with or without a Hashgocha on the shelf. No NYS agency will oversee if Bugles now have an OU or an OU-D.

    The NYS Kosher inspectors did a fine job in keeping their eyes open for purposeful violations by the unscrupulous store owner. But most of the violations they issued did little to ‘protect’ the kosher consumer.

    Can Mr. Lubinsky show actual examples, of where the community was safe guarded by the NYS inspectors? Really. I’d like a reply here. We’ve been hearing about this for months now, with no real information. Yes, I feel for the people that worked in the NYS Kosher Enforcement office and now are looking for work, but that seems to be the ONLY reason for this lobbying effort.

    NYS has no $$, I’d rather see the little $$ they have spent on education and feeding those with very low incomes.

  3. We must protect ourselves – by using lawsuits! If something is deceptively placed or marketed or if something is mislabled, serve papers! Once the industry sees that there are ramifications to their ‘misbehavior’…

  4. Mr. Lubinsky, you are being ridiculous. Just because something has an O-U or Chof-K or Star-K or whatever hashgocho it may have doesn’t mean you can just put it into your mouth.

    You are in advertising. You, more than most people, should know the meaning of “Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware”. There are many good national and local hechsherim but you, the consumer can not rely on these hashgchos alone. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to know what we are about to purchase and/eat. Do you eat in restaurants just because it has a national hashgocho? I don’t! If I know the owner or speak to the mashgiach temidi and feel comfortable then I will eat their food.

    I was recently in a restaurant. I know the owners, they have a ‘top’ local hechsher, one I feel very comfortable with. And they have a reliable mashgiach temidi. The goy at the bar poured me a glass of wine from the “House Brand”. I asked to see the bottle. It did not say ‘mevushal’. I returned the glass of wine. It turns out that it is mevushal but the manufacturer of the kosher wine didn’t notice that the label omitted the word.

    The bottle didn’t say mevushal. Do I trust the hashgocho or do I check it out myself? In this case B”H all was well. But how many times are there oversights?

    How many butcher shops, bakeries, grocery stores, etc. closed down because of oversights or outright fraud?

    In conclusion, Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware.

  5. Of course, Kosher consumers in New York do have all of the same protections that all consumers do. Fraudulent advertising is fraudulent advertising. Fraudulent use of a Trademark is Fraudulent use of a Trademark.

    And New York Law regarding Kosher products does nothing to guarantee adherence to Jewish Law. All it requires is that someone register what they want to call Kosher with the State, and use the registered mark. If they want to sell bacon as Kosher, in New York, they can.

  6. By Mr. Lubinsky’s reasoning, the state should also be involved in supervising sofrim, to determine whether the mezuzahs and tefillin they sell are kosher or treif. Or how about overseeing those companies advertising “kosher” cruises or hotels for Pesach. Of course, the notion is ridiculous. NYS’s kosher food enforcement division should never have existed. No frum Jew ever depended on them for anything having do with the kashrus of our food (that’s why we have national halachic certifying agencies and local Vaads) just as we wouldn’t rely on them for determining the kashrus of our tefillin.

  7. Why don’t you learn some facts. Reb Yid not in every store or supermarket can you get Blooms or such products but the inspectors made sure that if you went into a supermarket anywhere in NY all products in the kosher section had a hashgocho. As for the “waste” if you would look through the records in the “KLE” you will find plenty of examples of violations particularly Pesach violations.As for the “fresser”, by the time any lawsuits come to trial, months and even years could pass. Who will protect you in the meantime. The KLE did this and got rid of mislabeling within minutes after arrival. Now “Dave” do you really think that “boarshead” would register its brand as kosher?? Only they can do it and you and I know that they wouldn’t dare.Now “Reb Shua” “KLE” only deals with food establishments, and they only deal with establishments in the State of NY and yes they visited many of the hotels with Pesach packages.

  8. Would Boarshead? Nope.

    But someone can happily setup a “Kosher Style” Deli, complete with a nice “Kosher Style” Hechsher, and as long as they disclosed the standards, it’s legal in New York.

    And if someone wants to sell specialty Pastrami, made from a treif cow, they can easily get the same “Kosher style” Hechsher, as long as the standard is on file with the State.

    And yes, they could do the same for bacon. That is the least likely, but it is entirely legal, and there is nothing the KLE could do about it.

  9. “My Dearest Dave” In this case you are right. However the “hechsher” would have to be posted on the disclosure form which must be publicly posted. At this time “cavaet emptor” which means “let the buyer beware”.