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After Holocaust law, Poland moves to ban kosher slaughter

February 12, 2018 from YnetNews:

Poland's "ruling party has submitted a new bill restricting kosher slaughter and threatening anyone who violates the restrictions with up to four years in prison."
"The new restrictions are included in a 48-page general bill on animal welfare, which the lower house of the Polish parliament is expected to vote on this week."
"The restrictions include a ban on exporting kosher meat from Poland, which is expected to affect many of Europe's Jewish communities, as well as meat exports to Israel. Some of Israel's supermarket chains import and sell kosher meat from Poland, increasing the competition in the Israeli meat market. A drop in meat exports from Poland could lead to a hike in meat prices in Israel. "
"The bill also seeks to ban slaughter when the animals are in an "unnatural state"—in other words, when the animal isn't standing on all four feet, making a kosher Jewish slaughter practically impossible. According to European Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, 'Kashrut laws forbid to apply any pressure on the knife to protect the animal from unnecessary pain. Preventing this pressure is impossible when the animal is standing with its head leaning heavily on the knife.' "
"The Polish parliament banned kosher slaughter in 2013, but the decision was struck down by the constitutional court. The judges accepted an EJA petition and ruled that the Polish law contradicted the principle of freedom of religion. "

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W690

Ireland Advances Bill Making it Criminal to Buy Israeli Goods

January 31, 2018 from UnitedWithIsrael:

"The Irish parliament gave initial approval to a bill that would boycott goods produced by Israeli companies. Israel is enraged."

"he Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 would make it a violation of Irish criminal law to purchase goods and services from Israeli companies based in Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights. It would punish violators with up to five years in prison."

"There are several contentious occupations closer to Europe, including Russia’s occupation of Crimea, Turkey’s occupation of northern Cyprus, Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, and Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, the bill’s sponsors suggest that the Irish legislation is carefully drafted to apply only to territories connected to Israel."

"No other law prohibiting trade with Israel as a criminal offense has been enacted in other European countries."

"Further discussion on the bill has been postponed until July at the request of Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W689

2 related articles: Parliament 'bans' kosher meat in its restaurants and Is it too much to ask that Parliament provides kosher and halal food in its restaurants?

January 30, 2018 from The JC and The JC:

An employee "inquired about the possibility of kosher food being provided in Parliament’s nine restaurants and canteens, but was told menus were governed by guidelines written by groups including the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association – a long-standing critic of non-stun slaughter."

"Parliament’s on-site catering options include a range of restaurants, snack bars, coffee shops and vending machines and can be used by MPs, peers, their staff and more than 10,000 parliamentary pass-holders."

"Asked whether pre-made kosher food, such as sandwiches which are readily available in supermarkets, could be sold on the parliamentary estate, the spokesperson said: 'Following careful consideration, the provision of kosher products when weighed against demand, is not viable in terms of costs, logistics and supplier management.'"

The European Parliament provide kosher meals.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W688

Israeli Lawsuit Charges Supermarkets Selling Salmonella-Infected Chicken

January 26, 2018 from Hamodia:

"Attorneys representing consumer groups have requested the courts to approve a huge class-action lawsuit against some of Israel’s largest supermarket chains – for selling tainted chicken. According to the lawsuit, as many as half, or even more, of the fresh chickens sold in large supermarket chains like Shufersal and Yeinot Bitan were contaminated, many of them with salmonella."

"According to scientists, salmonella is not uncommon in fresh chicken, and the germ can be killed and the chicken rendered safe to eat if it is cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit."

"The lawsuit cites statistics of recent veterinary studies that established the high levels of salmonella at some supermarket chains. At the Shufersal supermarkets checked, 55 percent of the chickens carried the germ, as did 55 percent of the Yeinot Bitan chickens. At Rami Levy, that figure was “only” 27 percent."

The Israeli "Health Ministry said that the issue of salmonella in raw processed chicken was well-known, and that the Health Ministry regularly published alerts on how to prepare chicken safely for eating."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W687

England: Animal Welfare Bill ‘must outlaw’ non-stun halal and kosher slaughter

January 23 2018: from the Havest Public Media:

Humanists UK has called on Ministers to make non-stun halal and kosher slaughter illegal.

"Under current UK law, owners of animals are responsible for their welfare, but there is no duty on the state to consider animal welfare in policy making." The Humanists are trying to get the government define pre-stunning as a welfare need.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W685

Elkay Recalls Water Coolers and Bottle Filling Stations Due to Shock Hazard

January 15, 2018 from the CPSC in conjunction: This recall involves Elkay and Halsey Taylor water coolers and bottle filling stations with the model numbers that begin with the letter and number combinations listed below. They are mainly installed in public facilities such as schools/universities, office buildings and airports. The brand Elkay or Halsey Taylor is identified on the front of the units with a nameplate or embossing and the affected serial numbers begin with the numbers 1704, 1705 or 1706. For more information on where to identify the model numbers and serial numbers on the units, visit www.checkmycooler.com .

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled water coolers and bottle filling stations, unplug the units and contact Elkay for a free repair.
Consumer Contact: Elkay toll-free at 866-243-3070 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., email at Recall17@elkay.com or online at www.elkay.com and click on PRODUCT RECALL for more information. Consumers can also go to www.checkmycooler.com and enter a unit’s full serial number to see if it is included in the recall.

List of recalled products and more pictures can be found here

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W686

Egg Prices Expected To Rise In First Months Of 2018

December 28 2017: from the Havest Public Media:

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts consumers will be paying less for beef, pork, lamb, chicken and turkey in early 2018 than at the start of 2017. Not so for eggs."

"Egg prices during the first three months of 2018 are likely to be more than 35 percent higher than they were during the same period of 2017, USDA's Economic Research Service says. The increase, from about 80 cents for a dozen grade A large eggs at the start of 2017 to predictions of $1.06 to $1.12 for a dozen, is due to several months of increased sales."

Domestic and international demand for U.S. eggs is on the rise. "Meanwhile, bird flu, which devastated the Midwest poultry sector in 2015, affected egg production this year in other countries, including South Korea, the Philippines, South Africa and the Netherlands."

"The European market was further dented in August, when an insecticide that's used to control fleas in pets may have been inappropriately used by cleaning crews in the Netherlands to reduce lice in chickens."

"U.S. egg producers appear to be increasing the size of their laying flocks, which ultimately will increase supply and potentially push prices down, the USDA says."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W684

EarthKosher Releases Statement Following Sudden Passing Of Rav Zushe Blech Z’L

January 23, 2018: from the Yeshivaworld:

"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we must announce the petirah of Rabbi Zushe Blech zt"l."

"EarthKosher painfully mourns the sudden passing of our Rav Hamachshir and mentor, Rabbi Zushe Blech z”l."

"Rabbi Blech z”l was an extraordinary, humble person who utilized his vast knowledge and expertise to benefit the entire world of Kashrus, both consumers and professionals alike."

"We will forever remember his sage counsel and guidance and will continue his legacy of maintaining standards of Kashrus based upon strict adherence to halacha and yashrus."

"EarthKosher would like to acknowledge the numerous Kashrus agencies that have reached out to provide immediate assistance and resources while we actively seek a new Senior Kashrus Administrator."

"Rabbi Yehuda Goldman, who has served as COO under Rabbi Blech z”l since 2013, will act as the interim Kashrus Administrator. He will be consulting with major Kashrus agencies to ensure standards and policies are maintained as needed during this time."

Important Statement From Family Of Rav Zushe Blech Z’L Regarding Establishments Under His Supervision

January 23, 2018: from the Yeshivaworld:

“Due to the unfortunate and untimely Petirah of our Father ZT’L, the food establishments and restaurants that were under his supervision (Bais Ben Zion Kashrus) are unsupervised until a carry-over plan is implemented."

"The “Earth Kosher” certification, Rabbi Blechs other certifying agency remains in good standing and is being managed by Rabbi Goldman, Rabbi Blech’s Z’l partner."

"We are working to resolve this issue as soon as possible and will notify the public accordingly."

January 24, 2017 - Information on temporary certification of is at www.kashrut.com/Alerts/?alert=A6219.

Baruch Dayan HaEmes Rabbi Zushe Blech zt"l

January 19, 2018: from the ORB:

"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we must announce the petirah of Rabbi Zushe Blech zt"l."

"Rabbi Blech recently moved to Boca Raton from Monsey and was an icon in the world of industrial kashrus. The ORB relied upon his vast wealth of knowledge in many ways. One always felt his presence in a roomful of people, but he shunned the spotlight. Y'hi zichro baruch."

January 20, 2018: from the Matzav.com:

"Rav Blech was widely considered one of the world’s leading experts in modern kosher food production and technology, serving for over twenty years in administrative and field positions relating to all aspects of kashrus certification."
"Rav Blech wrote articles and lectured throughout the world on the entire gamut of kashrus issues, consulting with major food manufacturers to educate them on kashrus issues, obtaining certification, and resolving kashrus issues."
Rav Blech was the author of the encyclopedic work Kosher Food Production, a definitive work on kashrus certification."
"Rav Blech last directed kashrus certification for Kehillas Bais Benzion in Monsey and served as the kashrus administrator of EarthKosher."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W680

Silicon Valley wrestles with religion. Is high-tech “clean meat” kosher and halal?

January 22, 2018: from the DailyQuartz.com:

"For thousands of years, meat has come exclusively from sentient animals. And for a sizable portion of humanity, how to raise and slaughter those animals has been a central component in religious-dieting doctrine. But religious scholars are now being confronted with a brand new meat question: how does high-tech cell cultured meat—known in the food industry as “clean meat”—fit in an adherent diet?"

"The ascendance of high-tech meat companies such as Hampton Creek, Memphis Meats, SuperMeat, and Finless Foods has sparked novel conversations in Jewish and Muslim circles over whether these novel products are kosher and halal, respectively. And with the first clean meat products expected to hit the market this year, tech companies are actively engaging with groups responsible for certifying food products as kosher and halal, for obvious reasons. The global kosher market is worth more than $24 billion; the halal market $1.6 trillion globally."

"Clean meat turns conventional meat production on its head. The startups developing these products don’t rely on raising and slaughtering chickens, cows, and pigs; they need only a handful of animal cells. They then take those cells, put them in a nutrient-dense liquid medium in a bioreactor, where they grow and proliferate. The scientists behind the resulting product—a combination of muscle and fat tissue—say it’s identical to conventional meat on a molecular level."

"The vegan CEOs of clean-meat startups dream of a system in which no animal will ever have to be slaughtered to be eaten. Hampton Creek touts its ability to make ground chicken from cells collected at the tip of a plucked feather."

"But that feather-derived ground chicken wouldn’t be considered kosher, Genack says. To be kosher, the cells would have to be harvested from a chicken slaughtered in accordance with religious standards, he says. The same idea would theoretically apply for halal meats, according to a 2017 study of the topic published by the Journal of Religion and Health."

"In the context of kosher and halal foods, that would mean animals would still play a sacrificial role in food production. Cells will have to be collected from a properly slaughtered animal, then scientists will have to figure out how to turn those starter cells into an immortal line. It isn’t ideal from the perspective of some vegans, but it would theoretically spare billions of animal lives."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W683

New York Supermarkets get letter-based grades for food safety

January 12, 2018: from the DailyGazelle:

"ALBANY - State regulators have rolled out a new letter-based grading system for food safety at hundreds of stores across the state."

"Supermarkets and other food retailers must prominently display the rating given to them by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets after inspections by the department’s Division of Food Safety and Inspection. The ratings, and their meanings, are:

  1. No critical deficiencies found, store is in substantial compliance with rules.
  2. Critical deficiencies (those creating a risk of foodborne illness) were found but were corrected at time of inspection.
  3. Critical deficiencies were found but were not or could not be corrected.

"The new rule took effect Jan 1. The department requires that the notice of inspection be posted in plain sight near each public entrance to a store; retailer face a $600 fine if they fail to comply."
Customers can also request their own copies of the inspection notice.
Supermarkets already were inspected and already were posting the cover page of the inspection reports -- behind the customer service counter. The only change is the letter rating

"The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Division of Food Safety and Inspection inspects the state’s food retailers at least once a year, looking for critical and general deficiencies."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W682
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