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Food News


THIS SECTION IS FOR NEWS AND INTERESTING STORIES RELATED TO FOOD, NUTRITION AND FOOD PROCESSING. THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO KOSHER BUT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO THE KOSHER CONSUMER, MANUFACTURER OR MASHGIACH.

Startup Apeel is launching ‘plastic-free’ cucumbers at Walmart to cut back on waste

September 21, 2020: from The Fortune

"English cucumbers—the long, seedless, thin-skinned kind—are the poster child for the tradeoff that has long plagued shoppers in the produce aisle. In order to protect their fragile exteriors, each is wrapped in two grams of plastic, the equivalent of five plastic straws."

"Therein lies the dilemma: Fruits and veggies encompassed in single-use plastic prolongs shelf life but adds to the enormous amount of trash that ends up in landfills and oceans. Yet the alternative—produce without plastic—can mean more spoilage and food waste."

"The startup, founded by Rogers in 2012 with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has partnered with vegetable grower Houweling’s Group to produce “plastic-free” English cucumbers that will launch in more than 100 Walmart locations this month."

"The cucumbers will be coated in an edible substance that Apeel has made from materials found in plants (think banana leaves), creating an invisible barrier that can’t be seen, felt, or tasted. This layer extends shelf life by keeping moisture inside the cucumber and keeping oxygen out—two factors that lead to spoilage."

"Apeel’s first product, avocados, are sold in the likes of Kroger, but its cucumber launch with Walmart is its first partnership with the largest seller of food in the U.S. Walmart sells almost 25% of the country’s fresh produce."

Ed. note: from Apeel: "Apeel is not certified Kosher; however, the ingredients used to manufacture Apeel are not derived from animal sources."


An (Edible) Solution to Extend Produce’s Shelf Life

December 13, 2016: from The New York Times

Apeel Sciences is using leaves, stems, banana peels and other fresh plant materials left behind after fruits and vegetables are picked or processed to extend the life of produce like green beans and berries by as much as five times. Apeel can even deliver a day-of-the-week bunch of bananas, each ripening on a different day.
"Apeel’s products, sold under the brand names Edipeel and Invisipeel, take plant materials and extract all liquids from them to produce tiny pellets. The company then uses molecules from those pellets to control the rate of water and gases that go in and out of produce, thus slowing down the rate of decay."
"Invisipeel can be applied while crops are still in the field. Edipeel can be applied after a harvest; crops can be coated while on a conveyor belt or dipped in the solution."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W509

Armani Hotel Dubai To Host First Kosher Restaurant In UAE

September 18, 2020 from the Vos Iz Neias

"On the heels of the Abraham Accords signed in Washington between Israel. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates comes Armani/Kaf, the first kosher-certified dining destination in the UAW, which officially opened its doors on Sept. 17."

"The 40-seat pop-up dinner venue on the ground floor of the award-winning Burj Khalifa and Armani Hotel Dubai will specialize in kosher cuisine that complies with kashrut, Jewish dietary laws."

"It will be operated under the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Levi Y. Duchman, rabbi of the UAE, who has certified the venue with glatt-kosher and pas Yisroel certifications from Emirates Kosher Supervising Agency, the only UAE-based kosher certifier."


Emirates opens its first kosher food facility in Dubai, and not just for in-flight catering

September 17, 2020 from the N Lifestyle

"Travellers flying with Emirates might soon be able to tuck into latkes and matza on flights as the airline's catering division is opening the first major food production facility in the UAE. "

"Emirates Flight Catering (EKFC) is setting up the kosher food production facility at the company’s headquarters in Dubai. Called Kosher Arabia, the global catering company will begin producing meals from the facility in January 2021."

"Emirates already offers kosher options to travellers on flights, but these are currently sourced from overseas suppliers. With the creation of Kosher Arabia, the Dubai airline can upgrade its offerings and take control of meal quality for kosher dishes."

"And it’s not only Emirates flights that look set to boost kosher menus. Emirates Flight Catering provides catering services to more than 100 airlines, which will also be able to draw from the new division."

"As well as boosting in-fight kosher options, Emirates Flight Catering will also look to explore avenues for opening kosher restaurants across Dubai and the GCC said Saeed Mohammed, chief executive of EKFC."

"t will provide kosher catering for hotels and events across the Gulf region, including the upcoming Expo2020."

"The facility is set to be certified by the Kashrut Division of the Orthodox Union and is being developed in partnership with CCL holdings and the South African Union of Orthodox Synagogues. The culinary team at EKFC will handle all food production while CCL Holdings will provide certification, menu support and assistance in sourcing particular foodstuffs."

"As one of the largest catering operations in the world, Emirates Flight Catering last year prepared over 80 million meals."


UAE Government Asks OU Kosher To Certify Kosher Food Throughout The Emirates

September 8, 2020 from the Matzav.com

"In response to a request from the leadership of the United Arab Emirates, OU Kosher will now be the leading kosher certification agency within the Emirates and will do so in partnership with the local Jewish community."

"OU Kosher will oversee all kosher food in hotels throughout the Emirates as well as events such as Expo 2020 which has been postponed to October 2021-March 2022."

"The request comes following the success of OU Kosher facilitating the kosher food for the historic US and Israel delegation’s visit to Abu Dhabi last week."


Abu Dhabi instructs hotels to provide kosher meals following normalization

September 10, 2020 from the Jerusalem Post

"Hotels in Abu Dhabi, one of seven emirates that constitute the United Arab Emirates, have been instructed to provide kosher food to their guests. The UAE expects a surge in Israeli and Jewish visitors following normalization of ties with Israel."

"Hotels have been “advised” to adopt the measure to cater to their guests’ needs, the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism said Tuesday in a statement."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1089

Agudath Israel Advocacy Continues to Ease Way for Arba Minim

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W751

Polish parliament votes to ban $1.8 billion industry of kosher and halal meat for export

September 18, 2020 - from JTA:

"Poland has moved a step closer to terminating its $1.8 billion industry of kosher and halal meat for export — one day after a parliamentary committee had removed language about a ban in an animal rights bill."

"On Thursday night, the parliament’s lower house, the Sejm, voted in favor of the Law on Animal Protection. Among the 460 lawmakers, 375 backed the measure. The text on the ban was reintroduced, Tok FM reported."

"The bill must still pass the Senate to go into effect. The law, whose final text has not been published, bans the slaughter of animals without prior stunning. There is an exception for meat produced for the needs of religious minorities in Poland, according to the PAP news agency."

"Meat producers affected by the ban will be compensated by the government, which will also determine the precise conditions of who may conduct slaughter without stunning, the law says."

"Jaroslaw Kaczysnki, a leader of the ruling Law and Justice party, authored the legislation, which also bans breeding animals for fur and their use in circus shows."

"Poland has fewer than 20,000 Jews and a similarly sized Muslim minority but is nonetheless a major exporter of kosher and halal meat."

"Opponents of slaughter without stunning, which is a prerequisite for halal and kosher meat, say its cruel. Proponents of the practice say its relatively painless."


Polish parliament expected to debate bill on ending export of kosher and halal meat

September 8, 2020 - from JTA:

"Poland’s ruling party said Tuesday that it will introduce a bill to make kosher and halal meat permissible for Poles but not for export."

"The legal status of Poland’s kosher and halal meat industry — the country is a major exporter — became unclear in 2013 when the parliament banned the slaughter of animals without prior stunning. But the following year, the Constitutional Court ruled the ban unconstitutional. Its decision, however, said only that the ban on ritual slaughter 'for the needs of religious minorities in Poland' was unconstitutional."

"Proponents of the practice argued the ruling applied to the entire industry, while opponents said for-export slaughter without stunning was illegal."

"Throughout the debate, export has continued. In 2017, over 50,000 tons of kosher and halal meat were exported from Poland, mainly to Israel (11,700 tons) and Turkey (16,100 tons)."

"Legislation spelling out the limitations of kosher and halal slaughter may end the industry while allowing small-scale slaughter for the several thousand observant Muslims and Jews who live in Poland."

"The bill includes a ban on breeding animals for fur, enabling police assistance in rescuing abused animals, empowering veterinary inspectors to hand out fines and a ban on keeping animals on short tethers."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1085

Kosher Crisis Hits $19 Billion Market With Rabbis Stuck at Home

September 16, 2020 from the Bloomberg Businessweek

"In an ordinary year, Rabbi David Moskowitz would have spent the weeks before Rosh Hashanah, the holiday that celebrates the start of the Jewish New Year, working in China. For more than a decade, the native of New York’s Rockland County has run Shatz Kosher Services, which verifies that ingredients made in Chinese factories don’t contain pork or otherwise violate Jewish dietary laws. Late summer is usually a busy season, with companies gearing up to make products for Passover the following spring."

"Rosh Hashanah starts on Sept. 18, but Moskowitz hasn’t been to China in months. The Chinese government closed its borders to most foreigners early in the Covid-19 pandemic, and the 53-year-old is in Ashdod, an Israeli city about 20 miles south of Tel Aviv. From there, he tries to do his job via videoconferences linked to cameras at Chinese factories showing him everything from the office to the factory floor to the warehouse. “It’s not the traditional way, but what is traditional in corona?” he asks. 'Everything has been thrown out the window. We find ways to do the job.'"

"There’s a lot more to the kosher food industry than Hebrew National hot dogs and Manischewitz wine. Kosher food was a $19.1 billion industry in 2018, according to Allied Market Research, which projects it will grow to $25.6 billion by 2026. Many ordinary products in U.S. supermarkets are certified kosher, with everything from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to McCormick spices having kashrut symbols, and those labels can provide assurance not just for observant Jews but also for gentiles who are vegan or have other dietary restrictions."

"While China doesn’t have many Jews, it’s nonetheless an important part of the kosher food industry: Chinese factories produce canned fruit and other packaged goods and also play a critical role in the production of artificial flavorings, amino acids, and other ingredients that make their way into the diets of observant Jews. 'Anything you pick up in a supermarket or a drugstore, there are most probably between two and six ingredients from China,' Moskowitz says."

"All of those need to be certified, and usually dozens of mashgihim (kashrut inspectors) working for competing agencies crisscross the Asian nation to do factory visits that can be as short as a few hours or last for several days. Now the pandemic has crushed that business, with inspectors unable to do on-the-ground vetting. That’s forcing industry heavyweights such as Baltimore-based Star-K Certification Inc., which inspects more than 500 facilities in China, to deploy seven mashgihim in Israel and the U.S. to conduct remote inspections, with Chinese staffers providing them with video evidence of the production lines. 'They are online with them, going every step of the way,' says Star-K President Avrom Pollak."

"China is not the only country with travel restriction headaches. In July, Star-K sent four rabbis via private jet to a fish-gelatin facility in Uganda, where they quarantined for 14 days to supervise production. Kenover Marketing Corp., the closely held company in Bayonne, N.J., that owns Manischewitz and other major kosher brands, struggled to get inspectors to facilities making instant noodles in Singapore. 'For a few weeks we were really in a nail-biting session,' says Charles Herzog, Kenover’s vice president for new products and procurement. 'It was a game of chess, putting it all together.'"

"The pandemic hasn’t hurt supply for now, but people in the industry are warning about possible shortages during Passover in late March and early April, when the rules are stricter and virtual inspections often cannot suffice. Most Passover products are certified with full-time rabbinical supervision, according to Rabbi Moshe Elefant, chief operating officer of the New York-based Orthodox Union’s kosher division, which has about 600 clients in China. 'For us, Passover is now,' he says. 'We are going to have a real challenge: There’s no cutting corners, and we can’t get into the facilities.'"

"Companies may need to shift production to the U.S. and other countries with large Jewish populations and plenty of resident mashgihim who don’t need to struggle with international travel restrictions. That should help large agencies that conduct inspections in the U.S., such as the Orthodox Union, weather the coronavirus storm. Smaller players like Rabbi Moskowitz’s Shatz Kosher Services that are more focused on international markets will have a tougher time. Revenue since the start of the pandemic has dropped 85%, he says, but the company hasn’t laid off any of its 10 office workers in the northeastern city of Qingdao. 'I’m trying to keep them on for when things get back to normal,' Moskowitz says."

"While Covid-19 may lead to long-term changes in the way many people work from home, most adjustments in the kosher industry will be temporary, says Rabbi Eli Lando, executive manager at Brooklyn, N.Y.-based OK Kosher Certification, which is conducting virtual inspections for many of its 700 facilities in China. Mashgihim still need to be able to make unannounced visits to factories, he says, something that can’t be done as well online."

"'If you can’t surprise the company to make sure they are not doing something behind your back, that puts the whole kosher program in jeopardy,' Lando says. 'It is very important to emphasize as soon as the pandemic is over, we will not allow any virtual visits.'"

" BOTTOM LINE - Chinese plants that make kosher foods, which typically receive in-person inspections to assure they meet Jewish dietary laws, are getting virtual visits during the pandemic. "

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1093

Plant-based food producers sue state in federal court to block disclaimer requirement

August 23, 2020 from the Food Safety News

"Burgers, hotdogs, meatballs, jerky, sausage, chorizo, bacon and corned beef are among the products that will be defined as meat in Oklahoma on Nov. 1 when the Sooner State’s “Meat Consumer Protection Act” becomes law."

"The Act prohibits sellers of plant-based foods from using “meat terms” to describe their foods without disclaimers in the “same size and prominence” as their product name that their product is plant-based."

"Illinois-based Upton’s Naturals Co. and the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA) Wednesday sued the state of Oklahoma in federal court, seeking an injunction to prevent the labeling law from taking effect. Making Upton Naturals the top Plaintiff is a strategy as the company markets to vegans and its smart packaging labels say everything '100% Vegan.'"

"But come Nov. 1, it will be illegal to sell “vegan” bacon or other products that will be defined as meat without what is called the “Compelled Disclaimer” that the product is plant-based in lettering that is the same size and prominence as the product name."

"The Act expressly prohibits advertising “a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock.' However, it says “product packaging for plant-based items shall not be considered in violation of [the Act] so long as the packaging displays that the product is derived from plant-based sources in type that is uniform in size and prominence to the name of the product.' "

"The plaintiffs say House Bill 3806 was “brought” to the Oklahoma Legislature by the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association during the last legislative session. They say “powerful meat industry lobbying groups,” asked the Legislature to make it more difficult for sellers of meat alternatives to compete with the meat industry. It prohibits the use of terms like 'beef,' or 'poultry' or 'pork' without the 'Compelled Disclaimer.'"

"The lead sponsor of HB 3806 was Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin, OK. The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association recognized Rep. Hasenbeck in August with its top legislative award."

"Upton and the 170-member PBFA argue in the federal court filing that the Oklahoma Legislature went overboard. “The Act is more burdensome than numerous other alternatives, including but not limited to a requirement that sellers of plant-based foods use meat terms in context so as to not mislead consumers, which they are already doing,” they argue."

"Under its 2019 statutes, Oklahoma already required plant-based foods to “display that the product is derived from plant-based sources,” but without requiring this display to be 'uniform in size and prominence' to their product names."

"In their press release, the plaintiffs say, 'Oklahoma’s law has nothing to do with health and safety and everything to do with protecting the meat industry from competition. A small company like Upton’s Naturals can’t afford to change its labels to satisfy their competitors’ demands, and they shouldn’t have to because their labels are speech protected by the U.S. Constitution.'"

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1092

A CDC study found that people who tested positive for the coronavirus were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant beforehand

September 11, 2020 from the Courthouse News

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1091

European Magistrate Backs Ritual Slaughter for Halal and Kosher Meat

September 10, 2020 from the Courthouse News

" In a legal test case pitting animal rights advocates and far-right politicians against Muslim and Jewish religious leaders seeking to protect halal and kosher meats, a magistrate for Europe’s highest court on Thursday said bans on the ritual slaughtering of animals without first stunning them are unlawful."

"This was the advisory opinion issued by Gerard Hogan, an advocate general for the European Court of Justice. Hogan’s legal findings are not binding on the court, but serve as guidance for a panel of judges set to rule on a Belgian law that bans slaughtering animals without first stunning them to ease their suffering. In July, the court heard arguments in the pivotal case. Similar bans are in place in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Slovenia."

"A 2017 decree passed by the Flemish region in Belgium violated the freedom of religion because it had the effect of prohibiting “the slaughtering of animals by means of traditional Jewish and Muslim rites,” Hogan’s opinion said."

"'There is, I think, no avoiding the fact that the preservation of the religious rites of animal slaughter often sits uneasily with modern conceptions of animal welfare,' Hogan wrote in his opinion. Nonetheless, he said animal welfare laws must not trample on religious freedom."

"Under the decree, the Flemish region banned slaughtering animals that weren’t first stunned. A similar decree was passed in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium."

"But Muslim and Jewish religious leaders challenged the Belgian decrees and argued that their religions require animals to be fully healthy and conscious when they are slaughtered to make halal and kosher meat. Stunning an animal before slaughter is allowed for some halal meat as long as the effects wear off but the practice is not allowed under kosher rules."

"The Belgian government argued the law was not an infringement on religious freedom because it allowed for non-lethal stunning – a practice known as reversible stunning – for ritual slaughter."

"Belgium’s law was pushed by an odd mix of animal rights groups and far-right anti-Muslim politicians. In opposing the law, Jewish and Muslim leaders also came together in an unusual alliance."

"The case was referred to the European Court of Justice, the European Union’s highest court, by Belgium’s Constitutional Court, the Grondwettelijk Hof."

"Hogan said it is legal for countries to pass laws banning the slaughter of animals without stunning them but that such laws must also make room for religious practices. He said his findings are in line with EU animal welfare regulations that require stunning before slaughter but also allow for religious exceptions."

"Nonetheless, he said animals must be protected from suffering to the 'greatest degree possible' even during ritual slaughter. He added that meat slaughtered without stunning for religious purposes should not be allowed to 'enter the general food chain' in order to prevent people from consuming meat that doesn’t meet EU animal welfare standards."

"In arguing against the Belgian ban, Emmanuel Jacubowitz of the Central Israelite Consistory of Belgium said Jewish kosher rules require animals to be in perfect health before being killed. Muslim and Jewish groups also pointed out that restrictions on animal slaughter were not applied to hunting and fishing."

"Hogan’s opinion is not binding on the court and that previously the court did not follow the advice of an advocate general in a case involving whether an organic label can be awarded to meat derived from animals that have not been anesthetized before slaughter."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1090

Medek, LLC. Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of M Hand Sanitizer Due to Potential Presence of Methanol (Wood Alcohol) and Subpotent Ethanol Levels

September 10, 2020 from the FDA

Medek, LLC is voluntarily recalling all lots of M Hand Sanitizer Alcohol Antiseptic 80% 128 oz/3,785 mL to the consumer level. FDA analysis found the M Hand Sanitizer to contain methanol and be sub-potent for ethanol.

The recalled product is used as a hand sanitizer for hand washing to decrease bacteria on the skin when soap and water are not available. The recalled Hand Sanitizer is packaged in a one (1) gallon (128 oz/3,785 mL) High-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic bottle, NDC 75432-001-02.

The recalled Hand Sanitizer was distributed directly to walk-in customers in Alamo, TX, between the dates of 04/17/2020 to 05/22/2020.

Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact Medek, LLC at (956) 800-4366 (Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm CST). Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they experience any problem that may be related to the use of this product.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1088

CorgioMed LLC Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of All Lots of Leafree Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe Vera Labeled as EDIBLE ALCOHOL

September 3, 2020 from the FDA

CorgioMed, LLC is voluntarily recalling all lots of Leafree Instant Hand Sanitizer-Aloe Vera, within expiry to the consumer level. The products are being recalled because they are labeled as “EDIBLE ALCOHOL”. Leafree Hand Sanitizer is an alcohol-based hand rub to be applied externally to reduce bacteria on the skin when soap and water are not available.

"Risk Statement: Ingesting hand sanitizer, which is intended for topical use, may result in alcohol toxicity. Symptoms of alcohol toxicity may range from lack of coordination, slowed or slurred speech, drowsiness to coma, which can be fatal. Young children may experience a sharp decrease in blood sugar which may result in death. Pregnant women who ingest alcohol have experienced birth defects and developmental disabilities. Nursing mothers who ingest alcohol in above moderate levels may see developmental, growth and sleep pattern damages in their babies and may experience impaired judgement and ability to safely care for their child. Furthermore, ingesting alcohol can affect the brain and cause impaired driving or operating heavy machinery. Alcohol can also interact with numerous drugs which may result in serious adverse effects. Ingesting alcohol by people with alcohol addiction may interfere with maintaining abstinence. Additionally, people with alcohol addiction may seek large amounts of ethanol-based hand sanitizers as a substitute. The labeling of this product as ‘edible alcohol’ may promote this behavior."

The product is used as a hand sanitizer and is packaged in 100 ml (UPC #6970495860325), 300 ml (UPC #69705860318) and 500 ml (UPC #6970495860301) bottles. Product was distributed Nationwide via CorgioMed website.

Distributors and Consumers with questions regarding this recall can contact CorgioMed LLC by emailing to: contact@corgiomed.com or phone: 301-978-3898 from September 1st to September 30th, 2020. Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using this drug product.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1086
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