China Goes Kosher as Exporters Use Rabbis to Reassure Consumers
By Mark Drajem
Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Chinese exporters, facing a U.S. backlash over tainted food products, are turning to an unlikely group of inspectors to help clean up their act: Jewish rabbis.
Kosher certifications by rabbis have doubled to more than 300 in China in the past two years, according to the Orthodox Union, a New York-based organization that does inspections. The group expects thousands more plants to get certified in the next few years, covering everything from spices and chemical additives to frozen berries, sliced garlic and beef.
Chinese exporters, eager to gain access to the $11.5 billion U.S. kosher market, had already begun seeking the certifications before the uproar over contaminated seafood, toothpaste and pet food began last year. Now, after a rush of recalls, the rabbis say the companies are paying for the inspections to ease growing concern among U.S. consumers about imports from China.
``When we certify a product, consumers know there is another pair of eyes'' on it, said Mordechai Grunberg, an American rabbi whose seven-member team examines Chinese factories, scans company books, and even drops in for surprise inspections to ensure the biblical dietary laws are followed.
... Fully half the Chinese exports to the U.S. of $2.5 billion a year in food ingredients, such as coloring agents and preservatives, are kosher, up 150 percent from two years ago, the Orthodox Union estimates.
``We are experiencing phenomenal growth,'' said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, chief operating officer of the kosher-certification body.
While the rabbis see to it that the products adhere to such laws as prohibitions on pork and the mixing of meat and dairy,they don't perform scientific food-safety tests.
``There is definitely marketing power to have a kosher symbol on products,'' said Mark Overland, who directs the kosher and organic department at Cargill Inc., the largest U.S. agricultural company. ``But it would be a misnomer to equate kosher with food safety.''
Many consumers disagree. Buyers of kosher products -- the majority of whom in the U.S. are non-Jews -- are seeking healthy and safe products, according to a 2005 survey by Lubicom, a marketing firm specializing in kosher products ...
Saturday, January 19, 2008
China Goes Kosher
The rabbis and their kosher racket: a "solution" in need of a problem, and a dumb goy population to finance it.