Now the Federal Gov’t has removed over one million dollars of “food” items from VIP Foods (Kojel, etc). Maybe it is just us, but we find this whole affair to be disgusting. No, not the Health Dept. or the Federal Government- rather the company.

We posted an alert on Face Book, and we got a lot of “likes” and comments. One rabbi posted, “I agree with you. But it’s also a damned-if-you-do -and damned-if-you-don’t situation. I remember back in the 70s, Rabbi Teitz a”h of Elizabeth, N.J. put cleanliness requirements among his criteria for giving a hechsher. He was strongly criticized in the papers (particularly the then powerful Post and Opinion) for introducing a non-halachic element into kosher supervision.”

We give hashgacha to a small bakery and bagel store. Included in our kashruth standards are also cleanliness standards. If a worker goes out for a smoke, s/he has to wash before re-entering the food prep/sales areas. All workers must cover their hair and beards. Live food dropped is live food thrown out. Sneezes and coughs require hand washing. And so on.

Are those non halachic issues extrinsic to the laws of kashruth? Of course they are. But, we see our job as including more than just the rote observance of halacha. The bakery is partonized by many people, not just Jews. For those Gentiles who believe that kosher always means cleaner, that store will never betray their trust. And for those Jews who naively believe that kosher means cleaner, they, too will never be betrayed.

Kosher means fit. Yes, it means ritually fit. But, there is no reason for it not to mean hygienically cleaner, too.

So, where was the mashgiach at VIP? Did he not see over 1000 evidences of mouse excretia? Did he not see both dead and live mice? Did he not see boxes gnawed by rodents? WHY DID HE NOT CARE?

Why has the silence in our community been so pervasive? Not one kosher agency, including the big one that supplied their supervision, has had anything to say (or at least of this writing). Jewish media have been suspiciously quiet about this.

Growing up, our mother had a phrase: a shandah for the goyim. It meant that some things make Judaism/Jews look shameful in the greater world. VIP Foods is a shanda for the goyim.

Finally,to the supervising agency: shame on you and shame on your rabbi(s). Frankly, this one is just waaay over the line.

Posted on April 22, 2013 at 12:04 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink
In: General Topics, Kosher Alert, Kosher News, Uncategorized

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