Beijing Olympics going Kosher with food safety issues driving a mini-boom

Beijing and the Olympics are going Kosher. The capital's only Kosher restaurant opened 10 months ago, drawing the small Jewish expatriate community, tourists, curious Chinese and even a few Muslims. Business has been so good at Dini's Kosher Restaurant, that part-owner Lewis Sperber is talking about setting up a second branch closer to the Olympic venues in northern Beijing. Like many restaurateurs and bar owners, Sperber is hoping to benefit with as many as 550,000 foreigners expected to descend on Beijing for the Aug. 8-24 Games. "What we've thought about is preparing sandwiches and other items at a venue closer than we are now to the Olympic sites," Sperber said. "If people leave the Olympics and want a Kosher meal, we could have a place for them." Eating Kosher is hardly a raging fad. However, there is a real boom in the number of Chinese factories being certified to export Kosher products. This is driven partially by recent food safety scares in China involving contaminated seafood, pet food and toothpaste. Kosher certifications in China conducted by the Orthodox Union - the best-known certification body - have doubled to 307 in the last two years. The total number of Kosher certifications is about 2,000, exporters working to reach the world Kosher market.