(photo credit: Courtesy)
BALTIMORE - Spice giant McCormick has agreed to stop selling its spices to Iran, following the efforts of a Baltimore Jewish activist.
Jay Bernstein, an attorney and community activist, read in The New York Times last December that despite sanctions against Iran, the US Treasury was still allocating licenses to American companies to conduct business with the Islamic Republic. One of those companies, he learned, was the Baltimore-based McCormick & Co., founded in 1889 by a Jewish immigrant.
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“It seemed that what we could do is draw attention to McCormick and get them to reconsider,” Bernstein said.
In January, Bernstein wrote to Freeman Hrabowski III, president of the
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a McCormick board member,
asking that he "exert" his influence on McCormick to "do the right thing
and end all business dealings with and in Iran."
Shortly after, he received word that McCormick would “cease such sales
as long as Iran is subject to the comprehensive sanctions programs
imposed by the US government.”
Jim Lynn, McCormick’s director of corporate communications, told the
Baltimore Jewish Times that McCormick distributes its spices to some 100
countries. But he said the company could not get assurances by certain
parties that the products would not be sold by companies connected in
some ways to companies that had been blacklisted, so McCormick decided
not to sell in Iran.
"Is it going to bring down a regime? No,” Bernstein said. “But McCormick
showed a great example of corporate responsibility. And if more
companies did what they are doing, the regime in Iran would feel more
pressure. It’s gratifying that they were responsive.”