Koshner and non-kosher food .
(photo credit: HEALTH MINISTRY)
A severe incident of kashrut fraud has come to light in which meat that in all likelihood was not kosher was used to make processed meat products such as sausages, salamis and cold cuts with a kashrut license from the Jerusalem Rabbinate.
In addition, the kashrut inspector at the factory knew of this situation but continued to allow the factory to operate in this manner while granting it a kashrut license and failing to report the situation to the Jerusalem Rabbinate or the Chief Rabbinate.
Furthermore, the inspector knew the factory had no designated kashrut supervisor from the Jerusalem Rabbinate, meaning that the plant was entirely without physical kashrut supervision for a period of at least 18 months.
Kashrut supervisors are appointed by local rabbinates to be physically present at a food business for at least one hour a day, while kashrut inspectors oversee the correct functioning of numerous kashrut supervisors at numerous businesses.
The factory in question is the Bisan plant in the Atarot Industrial Zone in Jerusalem. Some of its products are marketed under the “Beit Shean” brand, while other products simply bear the name “Bisan.”
A statement distributed by the Chief Rabbinate’s Kashrut Enforcement Division instructed consumers who are concerned about kashrut not to purchase the products and to report establishments that are selling them.
According to one well-placed source, the factory was producing kosher products during one half of the week and nonkosher products during the other half. Therefore, the source said it was not yet clear if nonkosher meat was used in the products intended for the kosher market.
Even if this were the case, the use of nonkosher meat in a factory processing plant would almost certainly mean that any other products made there would not be kosher.
A source within the Jerusalem Rabbinate insisted that the meat found at the factory was without the necessary signatures and written certifications, and said that since there had been no kashrut supervisor at the factory for such a long time the meat had to be considered nonkosher.
The Bisan plant has a kashrut license from the Jerusalem Rabbinate, but has had no kashrut supervisor working at the site since some time in 2015 – a fact which would have been known to the kashrut inspector Despite this, the inspector continued to grant Bisan’s various meat products the Jerusalem Rabbinate’s kashrut stamp, likely knowing the factory was also producing nonkosher products.
According to the source in the Jerusalem Rabbinate, the situation was discovered when one of its kashrut supervisors noticed that Bisan products had a kashrut stamp when he knew for certain that no kashrut supervisor was working at the factory.
He then informed a kashrut inspector he knew about the situation who, in turn, alerted the Chief Rabbinate’s unit for kashrut fraud, which, together with agents from the Health Ministry, raided the factory earlier this month and confiscated and destroyed 10 tons of poultry meat.
Tens of thousands of counterfeit kashrut labels were also found and confiscated.
In addition to the lack of kashrut standards, the conditions at the factory were found to be in contravention of Health Ministry regulations, which the ministry said could pose health hazards to consumers of these products.
Officials in the Jerusalem Rabbinate did not answer a request for comment as to how it was possible that a meat factory under its auspices and granted its kashrut license did not have an allocated kashrut supervisor.
The office of Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern said that since the incident was still under investigation he could not comment, but stated that, if it was true, the Jerusalem Rabbinate would fire the kashrut inspector responsible and would “tighten regulations and oversight” to prevent such problems from recurring in the future.