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EU court upholds Belgian bans on ritual slaughter, dealing major blow to Jewish, Muslim advocates

December 17, 2020 from the JTA

"The European Union’s highest court has upheld Belgium’s bans on slaughtering animals without first stunning them, a ruling that confirms the prohibition on the production of kosher and halal meat in parts of Belgium and clears a path for additional bans across Europe."

"Israel’s ambassador to Belgium called the ruling 'a blow to Jewish life in Europe.'"

"Two of Belgium’s three states last year banned the slaughter of animals without first stunning them, a key requirement of kosher meat production. The laws were passed over the vociferous objections of Jewish and Muslim community leaders, and several groups — including one representing French-speaking Jews in Belgium — filed a petition arguing that the bans illegally limit religious freedom."

"On Thursday, the EU Court of Justice issued its decision: Bans on slaughter of animals for meat without stunning do not violate EU principles on freedom of worship."

"The ruling is a major defeat for efforts currently underway to challenge bans against ritual slaughter in several EU countries including Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Luxembourg, where the EU court is based. It also means that lawmakers in additional countries could impose bans without running afoul of EU rules."

"The ruling “gives member states a free pass on banning” ritual slaughter in Europe, Yohan Benizri, president of the Belgian Jewish CCOJB group that joined the petition, said in a statement. Europe, he said, 'no longer protects religious minorities.'"

"In Belgian’s Flemish region, the first to introduce a ban, the effort was led by members of the center-right New Flemish Alliance ruling party. In the French-speaking Walloon region, the ban was supported by the Socialist ruling party. (The Brussels region has no ban."

"The plaintiffs argued that the bans violate the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights as they effectively deny Belgians the right to consume locally produced meat that conforms with the production methods mandated by their faith."

"The court ruled that the ban on slaughter without stunning “respects the essence” of the charter, “since it is limited to one aspect of the specific ritual act of slaughter, and that act of slaughter is not, by contrast, prohibited.” But it emphasized that in Belgium only 'one aspect' of ritual slaughter has been banned while others may be observed, potentially leaving open the door to adaptations of ritual practices that are in use elsewhere."

"Some Jewish and Muslim communities, including in Austria, certify as kosher and halal meat produced by a procedure known as post-cut stunning, in which animals are stunned immediately after their necks are cut."

"'Judaism will not change Halakhic requirements as per the demands of the EU Court of Justice,' said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the head of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association, in response to the ruling, using the Hebrew word for Jewish law."

"But Margolin said that had Belgium’s parliament 'engaged properly with Jewish community officials before banning the practice, some satisfactory solutions could have been found, as has been the case in the Netherlands and elsewhere, because the method of slaughter is not crueler or [more] painful to animals than other methods.'"

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1129

FSIS to propose new rules on 'No Nitrite/Nitrate', 'Uncured' claims

December 13, 2020 - from meatingplace:

"USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has agreed to propose rule changes in response to a petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Consumer Reports seeking clarification on how processors label processed meats containing nitrates or nitrites."

"In their petition, the consumer advocacy groups take issue with current rules that allow processors using celery salt or other non-synthetic “natural” sources of nitrates or nitrites to use the claims 'No Nitrate or Nitrite Added” or “Uncured” on product labels with a disclaimer that states “Except those naturally occurring in celery powder.'"

"FSIS regulations, meanwhile, prohibit processors from making such claims when using synthetic sources of nitrates or nitrites."

"But the petitioners argue that nitrates and nitrates — whether they are synthetic or non-synthetic — are potentially harmful; therefore, consumers are being misled by the current labeling protocol. The petitioners want FSIS to require processors to disclose the use of nitrates or nitrites on the front of packaging, as well as describe their function on the ingredients list."

"In response, USDA wrote a letter to CSPI late last week, informing the groups that the agency plans to conduct rulemaking to propose banning the claims “No Nitrate or Nitrite Added” and “Uncured” on products that have been processed using any source of nitrates or nitrites."

"FSIS also intends to approve non-synthetic sources of nitrates or nitrites as curing agents. However, rather than requiring disclosure statements about the use of nitrate or nitrites on labels of meat and poultry products, as requested in the petition, FSIS intends to propose to amend and clarify its meat and poultry labeling regulations to establish new definitions for 'Cured' and 'Uncured.'".

"The basis for these proposed changes would be discussed in detail in the proposed rule, tentatively scheduled for publication in May 2021, the agency said. "

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1128

Israel's supply chain targeted in massive cyberattack

December 13, 2020 - from Hamodia:

"Dozens of Israeli importers and logistics companies were struck by a severe cyberattack last weekend. The hackers managed to break into the servers of dozens of companies and penetrate Israel's supply chain. The companies that were attacked are among Israel's biggest in the logistics sector and such an attack has the potential of severely disrupting the supply of basic commodities to the country. The stolen information may also be of strategic value to enemy states. Despite the successful hack, there has yet to have been a request for ransom, which raises the suspicion that the attack was strategic in nature with the target of acquiring information on critical Israeli infrastructure."

"The lion's share of the attack was conducted via Amital Data, which provides software solutions for freight forwarders, shipping agents, airline cargo sales agents, and customs brokers. The hackers broke into Amital's computers and stole its list of clients, including their login information, which they then used to hack into their systems. According to a source who spoke to Calcalist under the condition of anonymity, at least 40 of Amital's clients were hacked at some level. Some of the hacked companies are among the country's biggest in the logistics and importing sector, and some also own shares in Amital."

"Among Amital's clients who also own shares in the company is Fritz, one of the top three freight forwarders operating in Israel, with Rachel Bitton, Senior VP International Freight Forwarding at Fritz, also serving on Amital's board of directors. Bitton told Calcalist that her company didn’t suffer a cyberattack. Another of Amital's clients is Mentfield Logistics Israel of the Mentfield Group, which is an international freight forwarding, shipping, customs clearance and logistics services provider. The company’s website says that its customer base includes the defense industry, however, it too denied any damage or attack. Orian SH.M. Ltd, which owns shares in Amital and is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), filed a report with the TASE on Sunday in which it wrote that information from the company’s servers has been leaked as a result of the hack, which according to is knowledge affected some 40 of Amital’s clients."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1127

BD'E — Harav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Zt”l

December 10, 2020 - from Hamodia:

"Harav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, zt”l. (CRC)Harav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, renowned posek and Av Beth Din of the Beth Din of America and Rosh Beth Din of the Chicago Rabbinical Council, was niftar at the age of 95."

"Rav Schwartz was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He graduated Yeshiva College and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University, where he received his semichah. He served as the rabbi of the Young Israel of Boro Park for 18 years, and held pulpits in Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania."

"Rav Schwartz led the American Jewish community for over sixty years and the Chicago Jewish community for over thirty."

"He was a recognized leader of American Jewry, whose psak halachah and wise counsel were widely sought."

"A statement by the Orthodox Union extolled Rav Schwartz’s encyclopedic knowledge of Torah literature. He was an incredibly compassionate and sensitive person, whose impeccable middos and warm demeanor made him approachable to all. He will be missed deeply by his family, by his Chicago Jewish community, and by all of American and world Jewry."

"Yehi zichro baruch."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1126

Why Even A Small Thanksgiving (or Chanuka celebration) Is Dangerous

November 20, 2020 - from FiveThirtyEight:

"We all thought we knew what kinds of places to avoid: the ballparks, the Sunday services, the packed train cars. If we didn’t want to catch COVID-19, we should stay away from crowds. That was the mantra. So we skipped the summer street parties and we did virtual church. We had a nice little evening at home, ordering takeout and maybe inviting our closest friends and family over."

"But now, with COVID-19 rates on the rise basically everywhere in the U.S., those small gatherings are being blamed for spreading the virus, and experts say they don’t want us to have Thanksgiving celebrations with people outside our household bubbles. But experts are always telling us not to do the fun stuff that nourishes our souls — like eating huge meals or festively increasing our drinking — while the darkness of winter encroaches from every side. Having 10 people around a Thanksgiving table can’t be that much of a risk to society, right? Surely you can’t have a superspreader event without, at least, enough people to field a football team?"

"That’s because no matter how much we try to pretend otherwise, COVID-19 is a disease you get from being around other people. Technically, the size of the group doesn’t matter, said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. What matters is the likelihood that one of those people comes to the table infected."

"That’s because no matter how much we try to pretend otherwise, COVID-19 is a disease you get from being around other people. Technically, the size of the group doesn’t matter, said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. What matters is the likelihood that one of those people comes to the table infected."

"Risks are multiplied by dozens of dinner parties across town, and then grow over time as those dinner party attendees interact with other people in stores, waiting rooms and other small gatherings in the following weeks. This is how you get exponential growth, and it’s why experts are warning you against gathering a few loved ones at home now, even though throughout the summer all you heard about was the dangers of parties and rallies and protests and festivals, attended by dozens or hundreds or thousands of people instead of just the handful who might come to your dinner table. When there were fewer cases, it took a big gathering to make it likely that someone there was infected. But the water rose and now it’s threatening to drown us."

"t might seem unfair to ask people not to see relatives and friends they’ve missed, not to let a college student travel home for Thanksgiving dinner, not to enjoy this small pleasure. It might seem inconsistent to have focused on the dangers of large gatherings all year and begin warning about small gatherings just as they feel the most valuable. But this is a new phase of the pandemic. There’s more virus, in more places, and avoiding it has become harder. Even knowing where you caught it is harder. 'The prevalence is so high in the community right now,' Shah said. 'You have to see and treat everybody as infected.'"

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1125

Health and Safety Tips for a Happy and Safe Chanukah

December 8, 2020 - from Hamodia:

"In an effort to bring public awareness to the dangers inherent in Chanukah, United Hatzalah has released a list of safety tips and warnings aimed at helping parents avoid the dangers and prevent the injuries from occurring."

Use a special location and apparatus to light the candles.

Don’t leave menoros unsupervised, especially with young children in the house.

Kitchen safety:

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1124

Be Aware of Jewish sounding foods and restaurants that are not kosher

December 8, 2020 - from the editor:

Be Aware of Jewish sounding foods and restaurants that are not kosher. This alert is to remind people that as the holiday of Chanuka comes up, many non-kosher places produce "Jewish-sounding" food.
This alert is prompted by a new bar in Somerville, MA that calls itself the Maccabee Bar. When asked they said that none of our products are certified kosher. They have an item called the "Kosher Nostra".

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1123

Israel’s alternative protein plan: PM tastes Aleph Farms' cultivated steak and "can’t taste the difference"

December 8, 2020 - from the Food Ingredients 1st:

"Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited Aleph Farms, an Israeli start-up growing real meat directly from cow cells under controlled conditions, to taste cultivated steak first-hand. Netanyahu has also directed for a body to be set up to serve the burgeoning cultivated meat industry, and make the country a 'powerhouse for alternative meat and alternative protein.'"

"Netanyahu’s visit, which included an overview of the production process and the company’s sustainability strategy, is part of a national policy plan to establish Israel as an alternative protein leader. Netanyahu is the first head of state to taste meat cultivated outside of a cow."

"The visit also included a presentation by Goldstein and Aleph Farms’ co-founder and CEO Didier Toubia, who shared the organization’s National Policy Plan – a detailed roadmap “for making Israel a global protein leader."

"ike many other countries, Israel faces food security challenges, having 85 percent of the locally consumed beef imported and not locally produced. "

"Aleph Farms, SuperMeat, MeatTech and Future Meat Technologies are some of the world’s leading cultivated meat companies, and all are headquartered in Israel. "

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1122

No-kill, lab-grown meat to go on sale for first time

December 4, 2020 - from the The Guardian:

"Cultured meat, produced in bioreactors without the slaughter of an animal, has been approved for sale by a regulatory authority for the first time. The development has been hailed as a landmark moment across the meat industry."

"The 'chicken bites', produced by the US company Eat Just, have passed a safety review by the Singapore Food Agency and the approval could open the door to a future when all meat is produced without the killing of livestock, the company said."

"The cells for Eat Just’s product are grown in a 1,200-litre bioreactor and then combined with plant-based ingredients. Initial availability would be limited, the company said, and the bites would be sold in a restaurant in Singapore. The product would be significantly more expensive than conventional chicken until production was scaled up, but Eat Just said it would ultimately be cheaper."

"The cells used to start the process came from a cell bank and did not require the slaughter of a chicken because cells can be taken from biopsies of live animals. The nutrients supplied to the growing cells were all from plants."

"The growth medium for the Singapore production line includes foetal bovine serum, which is extracted from foetal blood, but this is largely removed before consumption. A plant-based serum would be used in the next production line, the company said, but was not available when the Singapore approval process began two years ago."

"The companies developing lab-grown meat believe this is the product most likely to wean committed meat-eaters off traditional sources. Vegan diets are viewed as unappealing by some, and plant-based meat replacements are not always regarded as replicating the texture and flavour of conventional meat. Meat cultivated in bioreactors also avoids the issues of bacterial contamination from animal waste and the overuse of antibiotics and hormones in animals."

"The small scale of current cultured meat production requires a relatively high use of energy and therefore carbon emissions. But once scaled up its manufacturers say it will produce much lower emissions and use far less water and land than conventional meat."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1121

Eco Baby Spoons and Forks, Eco Feeding Spoons, and Eco Placemat Feeding Sets Recalled Due to Choking Hazard; Made by Herobility

November 25, 2020 - from CPSC in conjunction with Healthy Canadians:

Baby Spoons and Forks, Feeding Spoons and Placemat Feeding sets 4PCs have been recalled because the Eco Baby Spoon and Fork and Eco Feeding Spoon can break into small pieces, posing a choking hazard.

Consumer Contact: Contact Herobility toll-free at 866-510-5006 from 9 a.m. through 3 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.herobility.com and click on the recall link on the homepage or go directly to https://herobility.com/en/recalls.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1120
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