Food fraud: CFIA lays charges after regular cheese passed off cheese as kosher at kids’ camp

I don’t get the kosher-halal food thing, seems to involve excessive animal suffering, but hey, who doesn’t want to make a buck and fly live animals for slaughter 150 years after frozen food transport was invented.

According to Michele Henry of the Toronto Star, for the first time in Canada, the country’s food inspection agency has laid criminal charges against a businessman and his company for allegedly trying to pass off run-of-the-mill food as kosher.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has charged Creation Foods and its vice-president, Kefir Sadiklar, with sending cheddar cheese falsely described as “kosher” to Jewish summer camps in June 2015. The agency alleges forged documents were created to make it seem like the cheese adhered to Jewish dietary laws.

The regulatory body, which polices food labels across Canada, has laid five charges against Sadiklar and his family-run Woodbridge-based distributor related to cheese products sent to two camps — Camp Moshava near Peterborough and Camp Northland-B’nai Brith in Haliburton.

The agency alleges that forged letters of kosher certification were slipped into boxes of non-kosher Gay Lea Ivanhoe shredded “Ivanhoe Old Cheddar Cheese” that Creation delivered to “strictly kosher” Jewish summer camps in June 2015. Kosher products are typically sold at a higher price than non-kosher products.

In an email to the Star, the federal food inspection agency said this is the first case it “has brought before a provincial court related to the misrepresentation of a kosher food product.”

Sadiklar, 39, is scheduled to make his next appearance in Newmarket court on May 20.

If convicted, he and Creation could face steep fines and even jail time.

The allegations made by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have not been tested in court.

The term “kosher” refers to food that follows Judaism’s strict dietary rules that dictate not only what observant Jews can eat, but how the food is prepared and handled. In the case of making cheese, a rabbi would be responsible for adding the coagulation enzyme at the first stage and certifying that no non-kosher products touched the kosher cheese on the line.

A rabbi has more microbiological knowledge than a microbiologist?

Market food passed on safety, not some weird religious stuff.

If god was so caring, why are so many people getting sick from the food they eat?(Darwin had the same problem with religion after his daughter, Annie, died at 10-years-old).

Campy isn’t kosher and kosher doesn’t mean microbiologically safe: NYC investigating reports of food poisoning at synagogue dinner

New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is investigating reports of food sickness following an event at a Manhattan synagogue dedicated to exotic kosher cuisine.

kosher.dinner.may.15The May 5 dinner, held at Congregation Shearith Israel, known as the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue, was meant to highlight animals and other foods that are kosher but rarely consumed by observant Jews, such as oxtail, locusts, quail eggs and organ meat from calves, chickens, ducks and other animals. The so-called Halakhic Dinner combined the exotic dishes with Jewish teachings about them and was led by the synagogue’s rabbi, Meir Soloveichik. Similar dinners have taken place in past years.

After the dinner, about 20 people reported gastrointestinal distress, according to Vos Is Neias, an Orthodox blog and news site. The blog cited Dani Klein, who runs the YeahThatsKosher blog and attended the dinner, as saying that his wife tested positive after the dinner for campylobacter, a bacteria associated with raw or uncooked poultry, unpasteurized dairy products or contaminated water, poultry or produce.

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Health, Christopher Miller, told JTA, “We’re investigating and working with the synagogue.”

“Did you know that giraffes are kosher? How about locusts? They are!” read a promotion for the event on Shearith Israel’s website. “Rabbi Soloveichik will entertain and enlighten with a special lecture over dinner. We’ll learn about some far out there kosher foods, and we’ll eat a few of them too. Goat, venison, bison and squab are just a few of the expected featured ingredients. Come hungry and adventurous.”

Halal slaughter: Outcry after UK undercover film exposes brutality of industry

Nigel Morris of The Independent reports that UK Ministers are under pressure to respond to growing public discontent about religious slaughter after an undercover investigation exposed the horrific mistreatment of animals at a halal abattoir.

halal.slaughterSecretly filmed footage which appears to show abattoir workers repeatedly hacking at sheep’s throats, hurling them into solid structures and kicking them in the face has intensified demands for a complete ban on the religious slaughter of animals without stunning them first.

Four slaughtermen at the North Yorkshire abattoir have had their operating licences suspended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) after a catalogue of apparent brutality was caught on camera. The footage shows animals being treated with “gratuitous violence and contempt”, according to the charity Animal Aid, which carried out the investigation.

The film emerged days after a petition demanding that  slaughter without pre-stunning be outlawed passed the 100,000 mark, adding pressure on political leaders to bring in fresh curbs on inhumane practices in abattoirs. Government has said it has no intention of introducing new controls on the production of halal or kosher meat, a line that David Cameron repeated during a recent visit to Israel. Animals are meant to be stunned before they are killed, but there are exemptions for Muslim and Jewish producers.

The covert filming at the Bowood Lamb abattoir in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, appears to show workers hacking and sawing at throats in contravention of Islamic practice, which requires animals to be killed with one clean sweep of a knife. In one instance it took five attempts to sever blood vessels.

The petition calling for an end to non-stun slaughter has been championed by the British Veterinary Association, which has warned ministers that they “simply cannot ignore the strength of public feeling” over animal welfare.,AAAAkVf4sTE~,ZHihQoc0Mak3KW61gTbGinrWzI69us3-&bctid=4028969078001

Kosher: Private regulation in the age of industrial food

Some time ago a law professor contacted me about food safety regulations and that he liked barfblog. We began a spirited e-mail discussion, and apparently my influence is found throughout the conclusion. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

The result is the new book, Kosher, by Timothy D. Lytton, the Albert & Angela Farone Distinguished Professor of Law at Albany Law School, and kosher.lyttonsummarized below.

Generating over $12 billion in annual sales, kosher food is big business. It is also an unheralded story of successful private-sector regulation in an era of growing public concern over the government’s ability to ensure food safety. Kosher uncovers how independent certification agencies rescued American kosher supervision from fraud and corruption and turned it into a model of nongovernmental administration.

Currently, a network of over three hundred private certifiers ensures the kosher status of food for over twelve million Americans, of whom only eight percent are religious Jews. But the system was not always so reliable. At the turn of the twentieth century, kosher meat production in the United States was notorious for scandals involving price-fixing, racketeering, and even murder. Reform finally came with the rise of independent kosher certification agencies which established uniform industry standards, rigorous professional training, and institutional checks and balances to prevent mistakes and misconduct.

In overcoming many of the problems of insufficient resources and weak enforcement that hamper the government, private kosher certification holds important lessons for improving food regulation, Timothy Lytton argues. He views the popularity of kosher food as a response to a more general cultural anxiety about industrialization of the food supply. Like organic and locavore enthusiasts, a growing number of consumers see in rabbinic supervision a way to personalize today’s vastly complex, globalized system of food production.

The sucess of perceived safety as seen in kosher foods

A recent survey by Mintel found that Americans choose to buy kosher foods because of perceptions of quality (62%), healthfulness (51%), and safety (34%) over religious reasons.

Similar trends have also been seen in the UK and Canada.

Krista Faron, a senior new product analyst at Mintel, was quoted by as saying,

“Particularly in the recent past, Americans have been overwhelmed by food safety scares. People are very concerned and having some certification on the foods they buy can appease some of those fears.”

She also explained where many consumers find that comfort.

“The presence of the kosher mark itself suggests that there is [an inspection] process in place. It is all about consumer perception that there is some sort of formalized methodology…My sense is that consumers probably couldn’t tell us what kosher meant, but the kosher mark is reassuring,” she said.

While kosher processing meets certain religious standards, there is no scientific basis for the perception of heightened safety. Imagine, then, what the marketing of actual food safety measures within a company could do for business.

Since a Mintel report in December 2007, kosher has continued to be the number one individual claim for new American food products.

"Microbiologically safe" could blast it out of the water.

Still raving about kosher food: It’s not safer, it’s marketing

We’ve blogged about kosher in Canada; how kosher in the U.K. sorta sucked.  Now, U.S. News & World Report cites Mintel, a Chicago-based market research firm, as saying that "kosher" has become the most popular claim on new food products, trouncing "organic" and "no additives or preservatives."

The report said,

"4,719 new kosher items were launched in the United States last year—nearly double the number of new "all natural" products, which placed second in the report."

Marcia Mogelonsky, a senior research analyst at Mintel, said,

"It’s the belief among all consumers that kosher food is safer, a critical thing right now with worries about the integrity of the food supply."

I really dislike people who speak on behalf of all other people. It usually means they know shit.

Moshe Elefant, a rabbi and chief operating officer of the Orthodox Union KOSHER, a kosher certification organization based in New York, said,

"Jews aren’t allowed to ingest bugs, so produce must go through a thorough washing and checking to ensure that no bugs are found within the leaves or on the surface of the fruit or vegetable."

Remarkably, the story notes that bacteria can remain even after this type of washing, so consumers can’t assume they’re less likely to get food poisoning with bagged spinach marked kosher than with a conventional bag.

I understand there are religious reasons for choosing kosher, halal or anything else. For me, I’ll focus on microbiologically safe food.

Kosher certification is causing consumer confidence in processors

Heather Sokoloff writes in today’s Globe and Mail that "As health-savvy consumers become more concerned about what is in their food, many non-Jews are equating kosher with safety and quality."

Doug begs to differ and wrote last week that "Fancy food does not mean safe food," even when the establishments are certified as kosher.

"The rabbi is more thorough than the guy from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency,"  insists a
nut- and dairy-free snack producer in Victoria.

Another processor claims that the four annual surprise inspections by the rabbi to her facility have caused her to "be more careful about plant maintenance and cleanliness than any government [inspection]."

The Orthodox Union, North America’s largest certifier of kosher foods, is now overseeing production at 6,000 facilities in 85 countries around the world. Real or imagined, consumer confidence created by producers’ kosher certifications seem to be great for business.

Fancy food does not mean safe food — Kosher edition

A Jewish Chronicle investigation of 59 UK establishments assessed over the last two years found that 30 received either zero- or one-star ratings; just two were graded five-star and another two four-star.

The rating ranges from no stars for the worst levels of compliance, through to five stars for the very best standards of food safety management. A two star rating is defined as largely compliant with national requirements.

Kashrut representatives variously expressed surprise and disappointment at the findings, but maintained that hygiene standards were high within the kosher market.

Uh huh.