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Israel: MK Moshe Gafni protests non-kosher food items being allowed into IDF kitchens

March 3, 2020 - from Arutz 7 :

"On Sunday, MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) wrote a letter to Defense Minister MK Naftali Bennett (Yamina), protesting a new army directive permitting the introduction of non-kosher food items into IDF kitchens, and requesting the Minister's intervention on behalf of religious and traditional soldiers serving in the IDF, Srugim reported."

"Ever since the establishment of the State of Israel, it has been accepted that the IDF's kitchens would be kept kosher, and this is considered part of the State's "'status quo agreements.'"

"The directive also stipulates that the food items concerned are to be "stored in sealed containers, and should be eaten using disposable utensils and dishes. These food items are not to be processed in any way (eg. heated in a microwave oven, sliced etc.)."

"The matter was first brought to the attention of former MK Yitzhak Pindrus (UTJ), who was approached by the Tzav 1 organization on behalf of religious and traditional soldiers in the IDF. Pindrus then referred the matter to MK Gafni."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1005

Passover in the time of coronavirus: Cancellations mount at kosher resorts

March 3, 2020 - from JTA:

"As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, the effects are being felt not only in the public health arena but in business, education and tourism — and a small but significant subset of the Jewish world: Passover vacations."

"The eight-day holiday, with its extensive home cleaning preparations and succession of major meals, has emerged as a popular time for getaways. The Passover travel industry has ballooned into a major business, with over 170 programs this year offering kosher meals in nearly every corner of the planet. Jews from Israel, the United States, Europe and elsewhere are willing to pay an often hefty fee to avoid the drudgery and inconvenience of holiday prep."

"As of early March, at least three programs — two in Italy and one in Thailand — have been canceled because of the virus. Others are keeping a wary eye on the situation."

"In Italy, the European country worst hit so far by the virus, more than a dozen programs are planned for 2020. Several operators said they remain committed to holding their programs and are keeping a close watch on the situation, but others have been forced to throw in the towel."

"Tour operators that decide to cancel programs typically offer full refunds to their patrons. And industry insiders say that even those that have not canceled are often inclined to return what they can, if only to preserve goodwill among their clientele."

For operators" "that run just one or two programs annually, a single bad year can spell disaster. They typically spend the entire year planning for Passover, which between the logistics of delivering kosher food to exotic locales and the multiple requirements of traditionally observant Jewish traveler is both complicated and pricey."

"Profits are often made only on the last 10% to 15% of rooms booked, meaning even a small drop in participation can make a world of difference."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1004

Waiter, there's a fly in my waffle: Belgian researchers try out insect butter

February 28, 2020 - from Reuters:

"Scientists at Ghent University in Belgium are experimenting with larva fat to replace butter in waffles, cakes and cookies, saying using grease from insects is more sustainable than dairy produce."

"The researchers soak Black soldier fly larvae in a bowl of water, put it in a blender to create a smooth greyish dollop and then use a kitchen centrifuge to separate out insect butter."

"According to the researchers, consumers notice no difference when a quarter of the milk butter in a cake is replaced with larva fat. However, they report an unusual taste when it gets to fifty-fifty and say they would not want to buy the cake. "

"Insect food has high levels of protein, vitamins, fiber and minerals and scientists elsewhere in Europe are looking at it as a more environmentally friendly and cheap alternative to other types of animal products. "

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1003

State officials say fines under New York’s bag ban won’t start for another month

February 28, 2020 - from the New York Post:

"New York statewide plastic bag ban begins this Sunday — but actual enforcement won’t start for a month, officials said Friday."

"State authorities agreed Thursday to delay penalizing stores violating New York’s ban of single-use plastic bags until April 1 after grocers filed a last-minute lawsuit to try and block the law."

"Officials announced the deal after a closed-door preliminary Supreme Court hearing in Albany."

"A new law passed by state lawmakers Albany last March bans plastic bags at most stores and allows retailers to charge a 5-cent fee for each paper bag. The policy takes effect March 1, but the state will wait a month before dishing out fines."

"The legislation aims to reduce litter and help protect wildlife in the Empire State, where more than 23 billion plastic bags are used a year, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation."

"All shops that collect sales tax, including grocery stores, bodegas and retailers across Empire State."

"Once enforcement begins in April, stores caught in violation of the ban will first be issued a verbal warning. The penalty for a second violation is $100 and the penalty for a third or subsequent violation is $500."

"Plastic bags can still be doled out for uncooked meat, bulk items, takeout at restaurants and prescription drugs."

"Bring your own reusable bag made from cotton, recycled polypropylene or other materials. You can also buy one at some stores, or pay the extra 5-cent fee for a paper sack. That’s if one is available — retailers are predicting a shortage when the ban hits."

"Two cents is given to local government and 3 cents goes to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund."

New Yorkers rankled on first day of statewide plastic-bag ban

March 1, 2020 - from the New York Post:

"New Yorkers were forced to begin grappling with a new shopping reality Sunday as the state’s ban on plastic shopping bags kicked in — and not many people were happy about it."

"About half the shoppers seen by The Post on the first day of the bag ban, including Kimmel, were compensating by bringing their own bags from home, while another quarter opted to just go bagless rather than pay the 5-cent paper-bag fee allowed under the law, and the remaining 25 percent coughed up the nickel charge per bag."

"The law, passed by state lawmakers last year, bars single-use plastic bags at any retailer — from supermarkets to bodegas — that collects sales tax at their store."

"It allows shoppers to bring bags from home, buy a reusable bag at the store, or pay the 5-cent fee for paper bags."

"Smaller retailers, including the Food Bazaar Supermarket in Woodside, opted to ease into the new world of plastic-less retail by pushing their remaining supply before tapping new stacks of brown paper bags."

"At the Bay Ridge Stop & Shop in Brooklyn, some shoppers were so ticked off that they blindly lashed out Mayor Bill de Blasio, who supports the ban but in reality did not pass it — the state did."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1002

Israel makes a move to bring more butter into the country amid shortage

February 26, 2020 - from JTA:

"Moshe Kahlon signed an order on Wednesday to lift duties and quotas on imported butter in an effort to alleviate a prolonged shortage in Israel, the business daily Globes reported. The order is limited to one year to prevent long-term damage to Israel’s dairy industry."

"It is not known if the imported butter will be subject to the fixed-price regulations on Israeli-produced butter." "Questions about whether an interim government had the authority to sign such an order postponed its enactment. Israeli lawmakers have been unable to form a coalition government for a year."

"The go-ahead to sign the order was issued earlier this month by Deputy Attorney General Meir Levin, The Times of Israel reported."

Israel is experiencing a butter shortage that won’t end anytime soon

January 8, 2020 - from JTA:

"The land of milk and honey has been short of one of the most commonly used dairy products: butter."

"Since early 2019, butter has become such a scarce commodity that Israelis have taken to sharing rare sightings of it on social media."

"While butter, both domestic and imported, has been trickling back onto shelves in recent weeks, leading some consumers to loudly declare that the problem has been solved, a spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture told JTA that 'a shortage of local butter is also expected in 2020.'"

"The problem, explained Ayal Kimhi, professor of agricultural economics at Hebrew University and the vice president of the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research, is that while Israel is for the most part a capitalist society, 'the dairy market is officially regulated in terms of quantity and prices.'"

"Like in the Soviet Union of old, Israel’s contemporary dairy sector is a 'planned' one in which prices are set based on demand forecasts and which works to protect local manufacturers from competition from foreign imports."

"In recent years, domestic demand for butter has increased, and in order to produce more, Israel’s dairies have required more milk fat, which is unavailable in the necessary quantities because local milk cows have been bred for years 'to produce as much milk as possible but not necessarily as much fat as possible.'"

"One possible solution would be to import foreign butter (which has itself increased in cost significantly), which would require a government quota exemption. Early efforts to alleviate the shortage by allowing more imports fizzled, Israeli business daily Globes reported in April, due to a decision to apply local price controls to the foreign products."

"The price for butter is set by a joint committee comprised of representatives of the ministries of finance and agriculture, which recommended more than a year ago to raise prices in order to make importation and local manufacture more fiscally attractive for the big firms that control the market. "

"But despite some modest improvements, the Ministry of Agriculture has said that it believes the shortage will last into the new year. "

Israel: Kahlon Increases Imports to Cover Butter Shortage

November 26, 2019 - from Jewish Press:

"Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced Tuesday that Israel will increase imports of butter, for both household and industrial purposes, in order to compensate for the ongoing shortage of the Israeli baking and household dairy necessity."

"Kahlon signed a directive that raised the household butter imports to 2,750 tons and industrial imports of butter for factories to 3,500 tons. The move increases imports by 13 and 24 percent, respectively, which Kahlon said would “increase the butter supply in the market and end the shortages in stores. "

"Butter in Israel is produced by the country’s largest manufacturer, Tnuva, and by the second-largest manufacturer, Tara. There has been a shortage of the milk-fat product for months. "

Shortage? In Toronto, Tnuva Butter Is Cheap and Plentiful

November 18, 2019 - from Haretz:

"Israelis are up in arms after a Facebook user published a photo of Tnuva-brand butter being sold in Canada for less than its price in Israel, while Israelis have been facing butter shortages for the past year."

"Tnuva is Israel’s largest dairy manufacturer. It has argued that the shortage of butter is due to a shortage of milk fat. Others speculate that Tnuva, along with Israel’s other dairies, are limiting their butter production in order to pressure the government to raise dairy prices, or to use the raw ingredient — butterfat — to make items with higher profit margins. Butter is one of several dairy items subject to government price controls. "

"Tnuva butter is likely being exported and sold in locations beyond Toronto, where it was photographed over the weekend being sold for 0.97 Canadian dollars per 100-gram bar (U.S. $0.73). Another Facebook user photographed Tnuva butter on supermarket shelves in Miami, being sold for $3.09 per 100-gram bar. Others said it was available in Montreal as well. "

"Tnuva butter is thought to sell for $2.39-$3.99 per 100-gram bar in the United States."

"In Israel, Tnuva butter is sold for 3.94 shekels per 100 grams ($1.13), a price set by the government."

"For nearly a year, Israelis have been facing butter shortages, with supermarket shelves frequently devoid of butter. The dairy industry has said the shortage is only going to worsen over the next year."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W967

Israel Suddenly Discovers Imported Coca-Cola Isn’t Kosher

February 24, 2020 - from the Haaretz

"Products imported from Eastern Europe are sold for much less than the local version, but Israeli bottler denies any role in decision "

"With over 90 percent of the market, the Central Bottling Company has long been the Israeli king of cola drinks. Its rivals, Tempo (Pepsi) and Jafora (RC), have never posed a real challenge to the official bottler of Coca-Cola in Israel. "

"In recent years, a new kind of competition has emerged from companies importing Coke and other Coca-Cola products. It’s the same product as Central Bottling’s, but they can sell for tens of percent less. "

"The Chief Rabbinate is the official body authorized to certify that a product made in Israel is kosher. Vis-a-vis imports, it accepts the certification issued by a select group of rabbinical authorities where the products are manufactured. "

"That had been the case for Coca-Cola products imported from Europe, which were certified kosher for 2018-19 from an approved organization called Ma’or Kashrut, according to the Rabbinate’s website. But the approval was not renewed for 2020. "

"Israel has eased rules in recent years for so-called parallel imports of products that local importers obtain from third parties abroad, rather than directly from the manufacturer. The aim is to introduce more competition and lower prices for categories where official importers or manufacturers of foreign products under license have a lock hold on the market. "

"Without a kashrut certificate, many Israelis won’t buy a product and many more won’t have access to it because supermarket chains and many restaurants and institutions only serve kosher products. "

"The official reason for the change is that an examination conducted by the Rabbinate with Coca-Cola executives and kashrut-granting authorities showed the organizations that had been approving imported Coke from Eastern Europe weren’t authorized to sign off on the concentrate for making Coca-Cola."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1000

In First, Israel Authorizes Chief Rabbinate to Indict Companies for Kashrut Fraud

February 19, 2020 - from the Haaretz

"The attorney general recently authorized the Chief Rabbinate to issue indictments against business owners who represent their products as kosher without receiving state approval to do so. This is the first time the Justice Ministry has allowed the rabbinate to take criminal action against entities that break laws associated with it, as it has done with the Tax Authority, the Environmental Protection Ministry and local government. "

"Until now only the State Prosecutor’s Office had the power to indict businesses that break the law against fraud with regard to kashrut and who requested a criminal hearing so as not to pay a fine. About two years ago the Chief Rabbinate asked Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit for authorization to handle such cases itself, claiming that the lengthy legal proceedings create a loophole that businesses take advantage of and compromises the deterrent effect of the law. "

"The law prohibits food businesses from “presenting in writing that the restaurant is kosher unless it has been granted a kashrut certificate,” and requires that businesses that have such a certificate “not serve or sell products that are not kosher by Torah law.” The fine for breaking the law is 2,000 shekels ($585), and the power to enforce the law is in the hands of the rabbinate’s national enforcement unit. The units are trained by the Public Security Ministry and they also work in cooperation with the Agriculture Ministry and other government agencies. The unit conducts surveillance of businesses suspected of breaking the law, and also hands out fines. "

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W999

Consumers should not rely on “vegan” labeling for allergen-free claims, stresses UK industry body

February 20, 2020 from Food Ingredients 1st:

This article alerts people that "vegan" on a product albel does not show anything about how and where the product is processed. The article specifically says that "egan” does not indicate “allergen-free" including dairy. For kosher consumers this also means that the processing plant can be processing meat which is not a required to declare allergen and so does not need to be listed.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W998

Contigo Reannounces Recall of 5.7 Million Kids Water Bottles Due to Choking Hazard; Additional Incidents with Replacement Lids Provided in Previous Recall

February 19, 2020 - from CPSC in conjunction with Healthy Canada:

Contigo Kids Cleanable Water Bottles have been recalled because the water bottle’s clear silicone spout can detach, posing a choking hazard to children.

This recall involves Contigo Kids Cleanable water bottles and replacement lids that were given to consumers as part of the August 2019 recall of this product. The base and cover of the clear silicone spout will always be BLACK. Only black colored spout base and spout cover models are included in this recall. Contigo is printed on the rim and along the front near the bottom of the bottle. The water bottles come in three sizes (13 ounce, 14 ounce and 20 ounce) and four colors (solid color, graphics, stainless steel and stainless steel solid colors). The water bottles were sold individually as well as in two-packs and three-packs.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled water bottles and the replacement lids provided in the previous recall, take them away from children, and contact Contigo for a free water bottle. Consumers who received replacement lids in the previous recall should contact Contigo for the new water bottle.

Incidents/Injuries: Contigo has received a total of 427 reports of the spout detaching including 27 spouts found in children’s mouths.

Sold At: Costco, Walmart, Target and other stores nationwide and online on various websites from April 2018 through February 7, 2020 for between $9 and $24.

Consumer Contact: Contigo toll-free at 888-262-0622 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or online at www.gocontigo.com/recall or www.gocontigo.com and click on Recalls at the bottom of the page for more information.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W936

Israel- Kashrut alert - Machane Yehuda and Eida Chareidis fruit/vegetable stalls

February 12, 2020 from Jerusalem Kosher News:

"'The Shuk', a.k.a. 'Machane Yehuda' in Jerusalem, is rapidly becoming Jerusalem's Soho neighborhood offering a variety of eateries and entertainment venues. It is not my place to lecture readers as to the suitability of The Shuk during nighttime hours, but I do feel responsible to point out that not every restaurant, pub or food stand has a hashgacha and one must be alert and look for a valid teudat hechsher."

"A valid hechsher must display the name and address of the store and it must match the sign displayed at that store. It must also display a valid date. All too often some unscrupulous individuals will conveniently cover the expiration date on the certificate with a sign, commonly the ones announcing Shabbos candle lighting time or a photo of a dead Torah giant. Baba Sali ZT"L and the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT"L are favorites, commonly displayed by shuk vendors."

"In addition, one may see a business selling an item but the teudat kashrus displays an address from another branch of the business. This is not valid as another teudat kashrus is issued with a correct address if the certificate is authentic for that location. A photocopy is a non-starter."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W997
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