Slaughterhouse case fuels kosher justice movement

Very little goes unexamined in the kosher world. From meat and poultry to the coating on vegetables and the ingredients in mouthwash, rabbis who determine whether a product meets Jewish dietary laws scrutinize the most minute details about all things consumed. For religiously observant Jews, that concern has rarely extended beyond the product itself. But now, allegations of worker abuse at the nation's biggest kosher slaughterhouse have some Jews demanding that food companies be judged not just by the purity of their products but by the way their treat their employees. "How can you sit at your table and eat a product packaged by a pregnant woman has been standing on her feet all day?" asked Rabbi Morris Allen of Minnesota. He is developing a certification program that aims to protect workers and the environment in the kosher industry. Interest in Allen's "hekhsher tzedek," or "certificate of righteousness," has ballooned since a May 12 immigration raid at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa.