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Shouldn't Faux Versions of Non-Kosher Products be Kosher?

by Arlene Mathes-Scharf - Editor Kashrut.com

Copyright © Scharf Associates, 2021

The Times of Israel published an article World’s largest kosher certifier won’t endorse Impossible Pork.

This article stated the following: "Impossible Foods, the plant-based meat company, is releasing a long-awaited new product — but unlike the wildly popular Impossible Burger, it won’t be certified kosher.

"The largest and most influential certifier of kosher products in the world has declined to endorse Impossible Pork, even though nothing about its ingredients or preparation conflicts with Jewish dietary laws.

"'The Impossible Pork, we didn’t give an ‘OU’ to it, not because it wasn’t kosher per se,' said Rabbi Menachem Genack, the CEO of the Orthodox Union’s Kosher Division. 'It may indeed be completely in terms of its ingredients: If it’s completely plant-derived, it’s kosher. Just in terms of sensitivities to the consumer … it didn’t get it.'"

The OU seems to be claiming that the consumers do not want the Impossible Pork Product to be kosher. This story has been picked up by the national media including The National Provisioner.

I think this will discourage innovative companies from pursuing kosher certification. It is also counter to what the OU had done with other companies.

The results on the OU products search for the following terms:

The following is an answer given by the OU to a question on Chullin 109a-b: What if you want to taste pork?

"The Mishna teaches that in order to prepare udder for eating, it must be opened so that the milk can be removed. In the Gemara Rav Yehuda teaches that the requirement is for the udder to be cut crosswise and pressed against the wall.

"The Gemara follows this by relating the following story about Yalta, Rav Nachman‘s wife: Yalta once said to Rav Nachman: ‘Observe, for everything that the Divine Law has forbidden us it has permitted us an equivalent:

'Rav Nachman’s wife, Yalta, was a member of the family of the Exilarch. From the stories related in the Gemara about her, it is clear that she was a strong-willed woman, who expected to be treated with respect by her husband and by the other Sages. Furthermore, the stories show that she was learned in her own right and that she participated in the discussions that Rav Nachman had with his contemporaries and peers.

"One of her examples of something that the Divine Law permitted was the brain of the shibbuta, whose taste was that of pork. Scholars have searched for – and may have found – the shibbuta in Turkey."

My question is, shouldn't the OU certify this product and let the consumer decide what they are comfortable with, just like some people may be willing to eat a cheese burger from the Impossible Foods beef product and some will not? I do not think a vocal minority should be deciding what kosher products the kosher community can consume, but rather let consumers choose with their pocketbooks.

The OU can be reached at 212-613-8241.


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Arlene J. Mathes-Scharf  
Food Scientist - Kosher Food Specialist
 
Scharf Associates
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