The following story appears in this week”s Kosher Today. Kudos to Kosher Today for this straight to the point article. Well done!!
Is Kosher Food Really Safer?
By Menachem Lubinsky… In recent days, two major kosher food stories made it to the general media. One dealt with a Mintel research report that the majority of 5,000 new food product launches in the past year were kosher. The other was the movement in China to make their food ingredient products kosher. Both of these stories should come as no surprise to KosherToday readers as they have been covered extensively in these pages. What is perhaps reason for further review is the direct and not so direct intimation that the kosher label is used to prove that the food products are safer.
The Chinese story is a bit more ominous since the food industry in China has been under attack for substandard safety conditions. The media reports linked the concerns over safety with the growing movement in China to go kosher, although in our coverage we pointed out that the desire for the kosher label is more a way to export to the U.S., where most large food companies require kosher ingredients. In the other story it is apparent that companies see the kosher symbol as a huge marketing advantage, but also because it offers reassurances to consumers that another set of eyes is watching the product and a general perception amongst many that kosher is healthier and of better quality. Consumers have in the past told researchers that with the government admitting that it couldn’t possibly police all of the food that is produced nowadays, at least there is another set of eyes, that of kosher supervisors.
There is something to the notion that kosher products are safer. After all, many of the products avoid animal based ingredients and yes there is some kind of supervision over the production process. But nutritionists and professionals in the medical field would be hard pressed to definitively state that kosher is healthier, namely because many kosher products are made with high saturated fats and other problematic ingredients. The Chinese attempt to clean up their act through kosher will also not fly as rabbis are more apt to ascertain that the production is kosher than to monitor unsafe conditions. There have been some reports recently that experts have found the koshering process in meat and poultry to be of benefit from a health point of view. Others have quoted studies that the separation of meat and milk is also better for you. Of course, those who eat kosher regularly are more likely to do so because of the Torah of Moses than the torah of health.
But to the question ‘Is Kosher Safer?’ the best that can be offered is the old Jewish answer to any question: ‘It depends.’ On balance the answer would have to be yes, but the exceptions are equally as prevalent. Just indulge in a traditional Shabbat meal and you’ll know what I mean.