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How should cell-based meat be labeled? What 1,179 comments to USDA say about stakeholders’ priorities

May 31, 2022 from The Food Dive:

"As companies making meat from cells raise money, create prototypes and improve their technology, they are getting closer to having products to make available.

"And that leaves a question hanging in the air: What can those products be called?

"The USDA — which formally agreed in 2019 to jointly regulate products in the cell-based space with the FDA — put out a formal request for input in September. The department asked a battery of questions about how these products should be described on packaging labels, especially compared to animal derived products. Which terms work best for this type of product? Which terms would be misleading?

"The comment period was open for two months. And in that time, 1,179 comments came in.

"Eighty-seven of them came from companies, trade groups, policy groups and international entities. State agriculture departments, companies involved with cell-based meat, traditional meat producers and an array of groups connected to the food industry commented. A total of 157 individuals left comments anonymously. One U.S. senator made his opinion known.

"And while the comments offered a wide variety of viewpoints on cell-based meat, one sentiment was nearly universally shared: These new products represent something new and different, and they deserve regulators’ attention and specific labeling."

"When reviewing a few of the comments herself, Kulkarni saw a lot of differences of opinions. But she saw one thing that most commenters agreed on: Cell-based meat should be labeled in a way that differentiates it from products that come from slaughtered animals."

Food Dive tracked the comments here on May 31, 2022.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1277

Who gets to say what is kosher? A Long Island restaurant is caught in the crosshairs

May 23, 2022 - from the Forward

"It’s easy, in theory, to say that courts should stay out of religious matters. But what happens when money and faith collide? How should judges balance the government’s responsibility to regulate commercial conduct against the constitutional separation of church and state?

"For over a century, one of the prime areas where these two core principles have repeatedly come into conflict is kosher certification. Disputes over the business of kashrut have become a regular feature on the dockets of U.S. courts, though most have been dismissed out of concern that adjudicating them could inappropriately make judges the arbiters of religious validity.

"That’s why a Long Island judge recently dismissed a restaurant’s lawsuit claiming that it had been disparaged by a local kosher certification company, a decision that once again tested the legal system’s ability to balance two competing needs. On the one hand, the courts must protect the right of religious leaders to set religious standards for their communities. On the other, they must ensure that the commercial marketplace, even in niche aisles, remains free of malfeasance and monopoly.

"The decision by the Nassau County Supreme Court came in a civil case filed last year by Chimichurri, a kosher Portuguese barbecue restaurant in Cedarhurst, against the Vaad Hakashrus of the Five Towns and Far Rockaway, the main kosher-certification company serving the Orthodox communities in those areas.

"According to the complaint, Chimichurri ended its five-year relationship with the Vaad in July of 2020, choosing instead to use Mehadrin, a different kosher certification company. The restaurant claims the Vaad retaliated by circulating a letter falsely claiming that it was no longer kosher, which Chimichurri said led to $150,000 in lost revenue over a year. The court dismissed the complaint, saying that the First Amendment prohibited the court from getting involved in this type of religious dispute.

"Chimichurri’s claim, legally, hinged on the word “falsely,” which raises the spector of what, exactly, is kosher — a red flag for the court.

"The restaurant said the statements in the Vaad’s letter were false and untrue, and intended “to increase the Vaad’s monopoly power” by casting doubt on Mehadrin’s credentials as an arbiter of kashrut.

"The Vaad, in turn, said it was simply trying to maintain the integrity of local kosher standards, not denigrate the restaurant.

"The letter is not explicit about the Vaad’s grounds for its skepticism, but implies that Mehadrin is willing to apply religiously inadequate kosher standards in pursuit of profit.

"Whose description of the facts is correct? The pursuit of that question could run afoul of what is often termed the “religious question doctrine,” which prohibits judges from resolving issues of religious practice.

"There are many different — and, sometimes, competing — justifications for this doctrine. But maybe the most intuitive version is that when a court picks one religious view over another, it is using the coercive power of the state to determine which version of a faith is the true faith. And that is tantamount to establishing religion, in contravention of the First Amendment.

"This is why most courts have, for the past 70 years, consistently refused to resolve kosher cases. Consider the 2012 lawsuit accusing Hebrew National of falsely advertising its meats as kosher. Multiple courts dismissed the case, with a Minnesota judge concluding that 'It would be unholy, indeed, for this or any other court to substitute its judgment on this purely religious question.'"

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1276

Boris Johnson ‘heartily sickened’ by disruption of kosher food supply

May 19, 2022 - from World Israel News

"British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged Monday to help the Northern Ireland Jewish community overcome problems regarding delivery of kosher meat caused by post-Brexit bureaucracy.

"During a visit to Belfast’s one and only synagogue, Johnson called the level of red tape “insane” and said he was “heartily sickened” by the situation that was leaving families short of a basic need.

"When Great Britain broke away from the EU two years ago, its territory on the northern tip of Ireland stayed in the European Single Market in relation to goods, and the subsequent problems related to border controls has been an ongoing issue between the two sides.

"The Belfast Jewish Community Synagogue imports chicken and meat in bulk several times a year from Manchester, as the 500-strong Jewish population cannot support a local kosher slaughterhouse. Considering the community’s size, the amount it requires is not large, but small suppliers have even more difficulty than larger ones in cutting through the bureaucracy.

"The community’s leaders have complained several times about the difficulty receiving goods from across the Irish Sea. Community chairman Michael Black told the Jewish News in February that it has been 'very embarrassing having to push this issue' with government officials but they will continue to “rattle cages” if necessary.

"Last year, Rev. David Kale, rabbi of the Belfast synagogue, asked that an exemption be made on the import controls based on religious grounds.

"The post-Brexit trade problems between Northern Ireland and Great Britain in general were a large part of the reason Johnson visited Belfast. The Catholic, nationalist Sinn Fein party won the elections earlier this month, but according to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to the region, it must share power with the Protestant, pro-U.K. Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The DUP is currently balking due to all the customs difficulties the Northern Irish Protocol of the Brexit deal is causing to the free movement of goods.

"Johnson, who would like to renegotiate the Protocol even though the EU is refusing, has threatened to act unilaterally on the issue. He has been urging the parties to form a government despite their disagreements."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1275

Avian influenza impacts 37.5M birds in commercial and backyard flocks

May 10, 2022 - from FoodDive

"Already, egg prices are skyrocketing because of the outbreak. According to USDA’s weekly Egg Markets Overview, on May 6 the average advertised retail price of a dozen large white shell eggs was almost $2.62 a dozen. The prices for eggs now rival those two years ago at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when increased demand sent market prices through the roof — and fueled legal action against some egg producers for sharply higher prices.

"While the industry has struggled to come back from the volatility of the pandemic’s early lockdowns, it’s been working toward meeting the new specific demands of the marketplace. A March CoBank analysis found transitions to cage-free eggs that have been mandated by states such as California and restaurant chains including McDonald’s have resulted in the nation’s total egg laying population decreasing. Avian influenza notwithstanding, according to USDA, there were 305 million hens laying table eggs in March 2022, down from 341 million in March 2019.

"For now, eggs are getting to be in shorter supply at the consumer level. However, today’s consumers have something they didn’t in 2015: egg alternatives. Consumers can buy a ready supply of Eat Just’s plant-based Just Egg, and other players like Hodo are just coming on the market with their substitutes. This outbreak may help the fast-growing plant-based segment take an even larger piece of egg market share — and like some of the ingredient companies that gave CPG makers the tools to permanently reformulate without eggs, the egg alternatives may win over new fans in this outbreak."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1274

BIBS Baby Bottles Recalled Due to Burn Hazard; Manufactured by BIBS Denmark ApS

May 5, 2022 - from CPSC

BIBS Baby Bottles have been recalled because hot liquids in the bottle can cause the bumper to shrink, making the bottle tilt over spilling out contents, posing a burn hazard.

Consumer Contact: BIBS Denmark ApS collect at 514-543-7505 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, by email at care@bibsworld.com or online at https://bibsworld.com/pages/baby-bottle-information or www.bibsworld.com and click on the recall announcement in the middle of the page for more information.

Description: This recall involves the BIBS Baby Glass Bottle Complete Set which was sold as a 110 ml or 225 ml bottle set with a rubber bumper at the bottom and the BIBS Bottle Kit which is only the accessories including the rubber bumper and no glass bottle. The bottles are clear glass with a gray cap and bumper. BIBS and a measuring guide are written on the bottles.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled BIBS baby bottles with the bumper and either return the product to BIBS for a full refund or remove and throw out the bumper and use the product without the bumper. If you purchased the bottle online through the BIBS website and wish to return it, contact BIBS Denmark ApS for free shipping.

Sold At: j a k e. shop, Btrade, LolliHOPS, Children’s Boutique, Broome Street Group, Lou Lou & Company, The Natural Baby Company, Baby On Main Inc, Kaisah Boutique stores nationwide and online at www.maighandistribution.com during February 2022 for about $20.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1273

Israeli Health Ministry findings: Pigeons in Strauss plant but no Food Safety Manager

May 1, 2022 - from the Jerusalem Post:

"A Health Ministry investigation into the Strauss-Elite production facility has found several problems with the company’s procedures and conduct, all of which could have been a contributing factor to the discovery of salmonella in the factory and the largest product recall in Israeli history early last week.

"The following issues were listed in the Health Ministry report as the main areas in which the company was found deficient:

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1272

Inflation Drives Up Passover Food Prices For US Jews

April 21, 2022 - from VinNews:

"As households feel the squeeze of surging consumer prices, some U.S. Jewish families observing Passover have struggled to pay for eggs, gefilte fish and the unleavened bread known as matzo, which represents their ancestors’ exodus from slavery in Egypt.

"Grocery prices rose 10% in March on a year-on-year basis — the most in 41 years — driven by higher prices for poultry, fish, eggs, beef and other meats.

"The reasons for the surge vary: supply chain snags, unfavorable weather and rising energy prices. The latter, driven by Russia’s war against Ukraine, pushed wholesale prices up a record 11.2% last month from a year earlier. Transportation problems are weighing on food imports, particularly seeds and other items that produce oils.

"Diana Kogan, director of Caring for Jews in Need, an initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said inflation and shortages have been a huge issue” for Jewish groups in Southern California that provide holiday food packages to vulnerable communities including older adults, Holocaust survivors and people without housing.

"'Kosher meat, kosher chicken in particular, has been an issue,” she said. “Chicken used to be $1.89 per pound. But this year it’s over $3 a pound. We’ve also seen a 20% to 30% increase in kosher food prices.'"

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1271

GE Appliances, a Haier Company, Recalls Bottom Freezer, French Door Refrigerators Due to Fall Hazard

April 14, 2022 - from CPSC in conjunction with Healthy Canadians

GE-brand Free-Standing French Door Refrigerators in Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel have been recalled because the freezer handle can detach when a consumer tries to open the freezer drawer, posing a fall hazard to the consumer.

Consumer Contact: GE Appliances toll-free at 888-345-4671 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.geappliances.com/ge/recall/bottom-freezer-refrigerator-2022/ or www.geappliances.com and click on “Recall Information” at the bottom of the page for more information.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1270

Norwex USA Recalls Ceramic Knives Due to Laceration Hazard

April 21, 2022 - from CPSC in conjunction with Healthy Canadians

Norwex Ceramic Knives have been recalled because the handle on the Norwex ceramic knives can break during use, posing a laceration hazard. Immediately stop using the recalled knives and contact Norwex for a free replacement product of equal or greater value as offered.

Consumer Contact: Norwex USA Inc. toll-free at 833-882-5569 from 8 a.m. through 8 p.m. CT Monday through Friday and 9 a.m to 5 p.m CT Saturday, email at USNorwexservice@Norwex.com or at https://norwex.biz/en_US/product-recall or at www.norwex.biz.

Description: This recall involves Norwex Ceramic Knives. The knives have a ceramic blade and bamboo handle. The knife measures about eight inches long with a four-inch blade and a four-inch handle. Norwex is printed on the handle.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received 188 reports of incidents, including 158 reports of the handle breaking and 30 reports of damage to the knives during shipping. No injuries have been reported.

Sold At: Norwex USA and Norwex Canada as a promotional product from January 2022 through February 2022 for free.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1269

Best Buy Recalls Insignia™ Air Fryers and Air Fryer Ovens Due to Fire and Burn Hazards

April 21, 2022 - from CPSC in conjunction with Healthy Canadians

Insignia Air Fryers and Air Fryer Ovens have been recalled because the air fryers and air fryer ovens can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards.

Consumers can register online at www.insigniaairfryerrecall.expertinquiry.com or call Best Buy at 800-566-7498 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or go online at http://www.bestbuy.com/productrecalls or www.bestbuy.com and click on Product Recalls for more information.

This recall involves the Insignia Digital Air Fryers, Insignia Analog Air Fryers, and Insignia Digital Air Fryer Ovens, model numbers NS-AF32DBK9, NS-AF32MBK9, NS-AF50MBK9, NS-AF53DSS0, NS-AF53MSS0, NS-AF55DBK9, NS-AFO6DBK1 and NS-AFO6DSS1 sold by Best Buy. The brand name INSIGNIA is on the top or front of each unit. A rating label on the underside of each unit identifies the brand INSIGNIA and the model number.

The air fryers and air fryer ovens have cooking chamber capacities ranging from approximately 3.4 to 10 quarts, and plastic or plastic and stainless-steel bodies in black and stainless-steel finishes.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled air fryers and air fryer ovens and return the product to Best Buy for a refund in the form of a credit for use at Best Buy stores or Bestbuy.com. Best Buy is contacting all known purchasers directly to arrange returns and providing pre-paid shipping boxes and labels and return instructions. Consumers will receive a credit of $50 or the amount on the purchase receipt if higher. Consumers do not need a purchase receipt to get the $50 credit.

Incidents/Injuries: Best Buy has received 68 reports from U.S. consumers and 36 reports from Canadian consumers of the air fryer or air fryer ovens catching fire, burning or melting. These include seven reports of minor property damage and two reports of injuries, including an injury to a child’s leg.

Sold At: Best Buy stores nationwide and online at www.bestbuy.com, www.eBay.com and www.google.com from November 2018 through February 2022 for between $30 and $150.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1268
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