Sunday, July 15, 2007

McDonald's going kosher?

For several yeshiva boys from Monsey, NY, the glatt kosher McDonald’s was the ultimate tourist attraction. They took turns posing in front of the huge kosher sign that is surrounded by the chain’s golden arches logos. They asked the clerk for more souvenirs of the only glatt kosher McDonald’s anywhere in the world, including Israel. The souvenirs were the placemats with kosher in the center and an explanation in Spanish of what kosher is all about.
Located in the Albasto Mall, the glatt kosher McDonald’s is one of three McDonald’s restaurants in the mall, but the landmark for the Orthodox Jewish tourists was clearly the glatt kosher stand with its washing station to the left and benshers in a small corner.
Jewish shoppers, local businessmen, tourists and even ordinary Argentineans made up a steady flow of customers at the stand. KosherToday has learned that the franchise owner of several South American markets is considering duplicating the stand in other markets as well. There has already been talk that Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the next stop with Sao Paulo an obvious candidate as well.

One of the American boys said, “It is embarrassing that the U.S. does not even have one kosher Mcdonald’s, even if it now has at least two kosher Subway stores.” While they dreamed of the day when they could take a bite out of a Big Mac back home in Monsey, for now the only glatt kosher McDonald’s burger is approximately 6,000 miles away.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Aaron's Best recalls 35,860 pounds of frozen beef and chicken

Agriprocessors, an Iowa company that specializes in kosher meats, recalled 35,860 pounds of frozen beef and chicken products that were mislabeled. The label failed to list egg albumen, a known allergen, among its ingredients. The problem was discovered by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which said it has received no reports of illness related to the products. The recalled meats were produced between Jan. 14 and July 3 and distributed to food-service establishments nationwide, the USDA said.

The recalled products include 20-pound boxes of Aaron's Best kosher meatballs and nugget-shaped chicken-breast patties, and 12- and one-pound boxes of Aaron's Best kishka.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Kosher market in the U.S. is a $3.75 billion industry.

“Quixtar offers a number of halal and kosher certified products including NUTRILITE® Concentrated Fruits and Vegetables dietary supplement.” – Linda Harteis

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., June 1, 2007 – According to research presented at the 2007 World Halal Forum, the global halal market is valued at $5.6 billion annually while research indicates that the kosher market in the U.S. is a $3.75 billion industry. “With growing interest in kosher and halal practice, it makes good business sense to offer kosher and halal certified products,” says Fred Harties of the Independent Business Owners Association International. “Our members, Quixtar Independent Business Owners, are proud to offer a wide array of kosher and halal products to their customers.”

“To qualify for kosher certification a food product, the ingredients and manufacturing processes must conform to Jewish dietary laws,” explains Linda Harteis. “As with kosher foods, obtaining halal certification involves added steps in the product preparation process.”

“NUTRILITE has implemented these approved products and practices in order to offer Jewish, Muslim and others who follow kosher and halal practice a wider range of supplement choices that conform to their religious or dietary preferences,” notes Harteis.

“NUTRILITE Concentrated Fruits and Vegetables joins myriad outstanding halal and kosher certified food and home care products available exclusively from Quixtar Independent Business Owners (IBOs) in the U.S. and Canada,” says Fred Harteis.

About the IBOAI

“The official Trade Association, IBOAI is dedicated to serving and protecting the interests of Quixtar powered Independent Business Owners (IBOs) throughout North America,” says Fred Harteis of IBOAI. Governed by a Board of Directors, the IBOAI:

• Protects the best interests of IBOs and serves as an advocate in IBO issues.

• Promotes and protects the integrity of the Independent Business Ownership Plan.

• Ensures that the business opportunity today is as good or better for future generations.

• Acts as an advisory group to Quixtar Inc. and Quixtar Canada Corp.

The 2007 IBOA Board of Directors Executive Committee includes Jim Janz, Chairman, Don Wilson, Vice Chairman, Bob Andrews, Brad Duncan, Kanti Gala, Randy Haugen, Bill Hawkins, and Kathy Victor. Governance and Oversight Committee includes Jody Victor and Billy Florence.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Kosher noshing on the 18th mile

Mile Chai Café extends menu to breakfast

Newton residents have always enjoyed their view on Marathon Monday from the 18th mile – right at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Chestnut Street. And on April 16, during the 111th running of the Boston Marathon, those Newtonites will also enjoy full kosher lunches for the fourth consecutive year.

The Mile Chai Café, which is housed in the driveway of Temple Reyim congregants James Michel and Sheri Goldberg, was the brainchild of fellow congregant Carol Stollar. The word “chai” in Hebrew means “life,” and its letters, when added, equal 18. Thus, the Mile Chai Café was born.
“I just thought it was a golden opportunity,” Stollar said of the food stand, the only one in the neighborhood. “This gives people a chance to eat kosher.”
This year, the café will boast a menu for both breakfast and lunch because the race is starting earlier than usual. So if your pleasure is muffins or hotdogs, or even cotton candy, they’ll have you covered.
It’s a much improved menu from last year, when Marathon Monday fell on Passover and the café was limited to kosher for Passover knishes, fruit salad and hotdogs on a stick.
“We have the best hotdogs in town,” said Stollar. “We cook them with heart. We sold out last year.”
Spectators will have extra reason to cheer this year, as well. Temple Reyim congregants Jessie Rossman, daughter of Stuart and Shelly Rossman, and Gail Schulman will be running in the event.
Sponsored by Temple Reyim, all proceeds from the café go to educational programs at the synagogue. And according to Temple Reyim president, and Stollar’s husband, David, the synagogue is happy to be a part of the Mile Chai.
“I think it’s a service to the community,” he said. “Families want to go out and watch the marathon and know they can get kosher food and drinks. And we’re it.”
And after three successful races Stollar believes the Mile Chai will be around for many years to come.
“We have become a fixture on the route,” she said. “We feel we’re a part of the marathon experience.”

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cholov Yisroel hard cheese now being made in Canada

MONTREAL - Canadian-made cholov Yisroel hard cheese will soon be appearing in kosher food stores across the country for the first time in recent history.

This type of cheese, which is made under the most rigorous kashrut supervision, has been available here for many years only in the form of imports, mainly from the United States and Israel.

The Montreal-headquartered Eldorado Dairy Company Ltd. has received rare permission from the Canadian Dairy Commission for an annual quota of milk to produce a wide variety of ripened cheeses at its plant near Belleville, Ont. The company is under the supervision of Montreal’s Vaad Ha’ir and the cheese will bear the MK hechsher.

The Canadian dairy industry is tightly regulated and, in Ontario, it’s virtually impossible for a new cheese company to obtain a milk quota, unless it can show it will fill a niche not met by any other Canadian business. (The amount of milk produced in the province is set by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario.)

Eldorado, whose president is Michael Rosenberg, was accepted under the Dairy Commission’s Domestic Dairy Products Innovation Program, designed to encourage Canadian production and reduce reliance on imports.

With the start of domestic production, imported cholov Yisroel hard cheese will likely begin disappearing in Canada.

Laval Letourneau, chair of the program’s selection committee, said Eldorado asked for and was granted three to five million litres of milk per year, which will enable it to produce 300 to 500 tons of cheese. This amount could be increased in time if the demand is there, said Letourneau, who is also chief of commercial operations for the commission, a Crown corporation that co-ordinates federal and provincial dairy policies.

The first Eldorado products, under the brand name Golden Cheese, are expected to be on the market by the end of March. Another one or two labels are to be announced in the coming months, Rosenberg said, possibly one for the Muslim halal market.

Rosenberg bought and updated the Eldorado Cheese Factory, in the hamlet of Eldorado in Madoc Township. The formerly non-kosher plant, founded in 1951, has been closed for eight years.

Rosenberg has retained one of its award-winning cheesemakers, who has almost 20 years of experience in cheese-making and running two plants. Rosenberg himself is a newcomer to the food industry. He has worked in the distribution of electronic goods in recent years. He will be co-ordinating the company’s day-to-day business administration and sales from Montreal.

Rosenberg said the plant has the capacity to process just over five million litres of milk annually, and to produce approximately 530,000 kilograms of hard cheese. “We have the ability to scale this up to 10 million litres as the company grows,” he said.

He estimates that his potential market is 800,000 kilograms per year, assuming that 25 per cent of Canada’s approximately 400,000 Jews keep kosher.

“The average Canadian eats 12 kilograms of cheese a year. I would think Jews eat somewhat less because of not mixing meat and dairy, so I put it at 8 kilograms a year.”

Among the products Eldorado will be making are various kinds of cheddar and mozzarella, cheese curds, emmenthal, edam, colby, Monterey Jack, muenster, provolone, havarti, Swiss, gouda and farmers, as well as fresh cheeses like cottage, ricotta and feta, in a wide variety of formats, such as blocks, sliced and shredded, and in weights up to 40 lbs. for the food-service industry.

The Montreal Vaad has actually designated the Eldorado products as “mehadrin” cholov Yisroel, which even the most stringent kashrut observer will find acceptable, said the Vaad’s executive director Rabbi Saul Emanuel. All products are also kosher for Passover.

He hailed the launch of Eldorado as “an exciting development” because it encourages local kosher enterprise, makes efficient supply more likely, and may mean lower prices for consumers.

Cholov Yisroel cheese is supervised full-time by mashgichim from the time the cows are milked through the milk’s transport, processing and packaging. Eldorado is being supplied by a farm near Ottawa.

Instead of rennet, which is usually derived from a cow’s stomach lining, Eldorado is using enzymes to curdle the milk, Rosenberg said.

Cholov Yisroel represents about 70 per cent of the kosher cheese market in Canada, Rosenberg said.

Non-cholov Yisroel kosher hard cheese, as well as fresh, is made in this country. Rabbi Emanuel said this type of cheese production is supervised by a mashgiach at the plant only.

As the Eldorado products come onto the market, importers will no longer be able to bring in similar cholov Yisroel cheeses tariff-free, Letourneau explained. They could continue to bring them in if they pay the full tariff, he said. (Free trade does not apply to dairy products.)

Certain types of imported cholov Yisroel cheese, say havarti or edam, may continue to come in, until Eldorado is making those types, or if Eldorado does not make them.

Rosenberg acknowledges that there may be some resistance from consumers who have been used to eating the same (imported) cholov Yisroel brands perhaps all their lives, but thinks they will be won over by the quality of his products.

SUBWAY Opens Kosher Restaurant in Brooklyn

The SUBWAY restaurant chain is pleased to announce the opening of its first kosher location in the New York City area. This marks the sandwich franchise's second North American kosher restaurant and the first of its kind on the East Coast.
Officially opening for business on January 2nd, the restaurant is located at 1219 Avenue J, in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Owned and operated by three Sephardic Jewish business partners from the community, the restaurant is primarily a family affair with wives, mothers and other relatives taking turns baking bread, prepping ingredients and making sandwiches for the throngs of customers, many of whom have never before eaten traditional American-style fast food.
"I invite everyone to stop by and try our world-famous submarine sandwiches. Subway offers a variety of options that appeal to those interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the opening of a kosher Subway restaurant in Brooklyn gives individuals and families an additional choice when deciding where to eat," said SUBWAY franchisee, Jack Mosseri. "I am not aware of any other popular restaurant chain in the country that has so thoroughly adapted its menu to meet kosher dietary laws."
The SUBWAY restaurant on Avenue J is under the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Gornish. In keeping with Jewish tradition the restaurant closes on Friday at sundown and reopens for business one hour after nightfall on Saturday. With slight modifications, such as no cheese or pork products, the majority of the menu is almost identical to that of any other SUBWAY restaurant. The restaurant also offers catering services for meetings and special events to local schools and businesses.
"This is the busiest Subway store I've ever seen," says Daryl Meyers, the SUBWAY(R) chain's Development Agent for Brooklyn. "Customers love it and they are already getting repeat business."
Since opening the first kosher SUBWAY location, at a Jewish Community Center in a Cleveland suburb last year, the chain has received many inquiries from prospective franchisees around the country who wanted to know how they can open their own kosher SUBWAY(R) restaurant too. Understanding that these inquiries represent a significant potential for the brand to introduce SUBWAY sandwiches to a vast untapped segment of the population, it was decided to go forward and develop additional kosher locations.
"There are more kosher Subway restaurants on tap for the NY metropolitan area as well as some planned for other parts of the country," says Tim Miller, Operations Management Specialist for the SUBWAY chain, based at the company's world headquarters in Milford, Conn. "By the end of this year, we expect to have as many as eight kosher more locations up and running. We feel confident that we are able to do this mainly because of our extensive experience adapting our menus for consumers in areas such as India or the Middle East, who have specific religious or cultural food preferences."
With more than 27,000 locations in 86 countries, the SUBWAY restaurant chain is the world's largest submarine sandwich franchise. The SUBWAY sandwich chain surpassed the number of McDonald's locations throughout the United States, Canada, and most recently, in Australia and New Zealand. Sandwiches are served on Italian, wheat and a variety of seasoned breads that are baked fresh daily in each restaurant. Hot and cold subs, many with 6 grams of fat or less, are available with an assortment of meats, vegetables and condiments, all added per customer request.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Subway... Eat Fresh And Kosher

With more than 27,100 locations in 85 countries, the Subway restaurant chain is the world’s largest submarine sandwich franchise. It has even surpassed the number of McDonald’s locations throughout the United States, Canada, and most recently, in Australia and New Zealand.

Recently a glatt kosher Subway franchise opened in Brooklyn’s Avenue J shopping district. The first ever-kosher Subway opened at a Cleveland JCC less than a year ago. Seeing how successful it turned out, storeowners Jack Mosseri and Morris Amkie bought the rights to use the Subway trademark name and logo for a second glatt kosher Subway store.

On the heels of the trans-fat ban, New Yorkers are becoming more health-conscious than ever. Gone are the days of Jews flocking to eateries that dish out oily, fatty foods. “The Jewish community needs a place to eat fresh, clean, healthy food,” Mosseri explained to The Jewish Press
Despite being surrounded by established and popular restaurants (some that also specialize in deli sandwiches), Subway remains unconcerned. Mosseri differentiates the eateries saying, “We do absolutely no frying here; you will not be served oily fries.” Kosher Subway offers an impressive menu of turkey, pastrami, corned beef and meatballs sandwiches that can be prepared on whole wheat bread. The only difference between a regular Subway branch and the one on Avenue J is that no cheese or soy products are used.

When asked if there is anything authentically “Jewish” about this Subway, Mosseri responded, “Yes, Jewish people love meat, so we pile on more corned beef and pastrami than your average Subway.”

In addition to health, Subway takes kashrus very seriously too. Their mashgiach is Isaac Levy and they are overseen by Rabbi Gornish. Going further than the Cleveland kosher Subway, the Brooklyn kosher Subway stresses that they are “100% Orthodox.” Surprisingly, the Cleveland kosher Subway’s owner is not Jewish rather a Lebanese Christian and he tries to mimic the original Subway’s menu as much as possible having smoked turkey instead of ham and soy-based mock cheese.

The response to the glatt kosher Subway has been positive. In fact, business has been booming to such a degree that the owners of Subway have not even had the chance to publicize their grand opening. The owners humorously expressed their concern about more business since currently they are serving food at their capacity. Mosseri clarifies saying, “No bread, no business.” Subways bakes fresh bread about every 40 minutes; they take pride in their high quality bread and do not want to compromise and have their customers settling for less than fresh bread.

Kosher Subway has become so popular that another one is scheduled to open in April 2007 in Los Angeles, California. Subway franchises are found worldwide, including one branch in N.J. that serves halal meat. There are over 300 Subway restaurants in the Middle East, however currently there are no Subway branches in Israel. For more information visit

Empire Kosher Poultry Introduces Factory-Sealed Packaging

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Empire Kosher has once again positioned itself as the industry leader in kosher poultry, by introducing groundbreaking packaging, the first to respond to recent concerns of counterfeiting and mislabeling of kosher poultry products.

As of February 12, 2007, Empire Kosher will eliminate its fresh bulk “Ice Pack” product line currently sold to customers/retailers who traditionally re-pack and further process the product.

Replacing the bulk pack is a Factory-Sealed product line where products will be bagged in branded bags and sealed onsite at Empire, offering consumers the security of brand authenticity and ensuring its kashrus status. These Factory-Sealed packages also have a tamper proof, holographic emblem providing a second layer of kashrus security.
“With Empire’s new packaging system, consumers can be assured that they are receiving a product that is 100 percent kosher. It takes the concept of the traditional plumba to a whole new level,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, one of Empire’s kosher supervising agencies.

“This new initiative provides the consumer with a solid guarantee that the chicken and turkey they bring home to their family is, in fact, an Empire product and indeed kosher,” said Greg Rosenbaum, CEO of Empire Kosher Poultry. Rosenbaum continued, “It’s very simple. If a package is not branded and does not include the security hologram on the outside, it’s not guaranteed to be genuine Empire Kosher poultry on the inside.”

Master case weights, pack sizes, and products offered will remain virtually unchanged from current Ice Pack specifications. Within the case, whole chickens and turkeys will be individually wrapped, whereas chicken and turkey parts such as legs, thighs and breasts, will be grouped in Factory-Sealed bags so they can be simply put on a tray, weighed and over-wrapped.

Currently, retailers also customize products to consumer needs by cutting poultry into parts and special cuts by request. Empire products can still be customized for consumers but retailers will need to open the Factory-Sealed package and make any cuts in the view of the consumer. If a retailer removes the product from its Factory-Sealed package without the shopper’s knowledge, the product is not to be labeled “Empire Kosher” when put on the shelf for retail sale.

Other Empire products such as frozen poultry, cooked entrees and specialty frozen foods will soon carry the hologram emblem, ensuring the consumer that the entire product line has the same level of Kashrus security.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Survey: Kosher food a growth industry

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The average kosher consumer spends about $1,000 more each year on food, according to a
recent study announced at Kosherfest, a trade show.
Kosher food companies are growing at an annual rate of 10 percent to 15 percent due to increased sales of wines, cheeses, snacks and frozen foods. The survey also reported strong sales of new kosher liquors and pre-washed vegetables.
More than one-fifth of U.S. consumers, Jews and non-Jews, buy some sort of kosher product, contributing to $175 billion in annual sales. Buyers who aren't Jewish most often buy kosher foods because they believe they are healthier, the study said.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Kosher Food Becoming Chosen Food of the Unchosen People

Sunday, January 28, 2007
By Michael Y. Park

For those of us who aren't Jewish, kosher foods, like Matzo-ball soup and gefilte fish, have long been relegated to half-understood punchlines in Woody Allen movies.
But that's all changing, thanks to America's increasing obsession with “pure” foods, and with a deliberate push by kosher-food companies, the biggest of which, Secaucus, N.J.-based Manischewitz, is launching a nationwide campaign to bring kosher comestibles to the other 98 percent of the country.
“I think kosher is in some ways becoming a new organic certification for some consumers, even though organic even isn't that old,” says David Rossi, vice president of marketing for R.A.B. Food Group, parent company for Manischewitz.
“The idea of kosher, in a world with so many health and product claims, is just and continues to have with consumers this idea of being cleaner, purer, better, and because of that, many consumers are looking for kosher foods and something positive, even though they don't keep kosher.

In fact, non-Jews are now the kosher-food market's fastest-growing segment, which is good news for Manischewitz and its competitors, considering that the Jewish population in the United States isn't growing.
And, of course, nowhere close to 100 percent of that 2 percent of Americans keep kosher.
Manischewitz wants to keep the non-Jewish trend accelerating, and has changed the look of its packaging from the familiar but dowdy orange-and-green boxes to a more streamlined, modern look with text boxes that focus less on Jewish holidays and traditions.
Meanwhile, kosher-food trade shows have become bustling gathering places to brainstorm ideas to market products to non-Jews, who make up about 30 percent of the kosher market.
“We've seen a growth of other ethnic goods, so our thought is, not everyone who eats Asian food is Asian, so why is it that only people who keep kosher should buy kosher?” Rossi says. “How can we take this brand and not just have it appeal to the core 5.2 million Jewish consumers in the nation?”
Candace McMenamin, who owns an auto-repair shop in Columbia, S.C., said she's tried some kosher foods for health reasons.
"I've used kosher products in place of other things, like I use their chicken broth just because it seems like it would be healthier," she said. "My two boys like trying them, and they like the potato pancakes, but I don't know if they'd try that fish."
Kosher foods is now a $10 billion-a-year industry covering 86,000 kosher-certified products (the number was 50,000 in 1996), and is growing at between 10 and 15 percent annually.
According to a survey released at the recent Kosherfest trade show, only 21 percent of the 10.5 million Americans who buy kosher do it for purely religious reasons.
Rossi said Manischewitz isn't producing new items to appeal to the broader audience, but is relying on giving a facelift to tried-and-true favorites.
New kosher products coming out include better kosher wines — no more sickly sweet grape juice wines — exotic cheeses and snack foods.
And the trend continues for well-established mainstream companies to make their existing products kosher — Absolut vodka, for example, recently applied for kosher certification.
Being kosher, similar in many ways to the Muslim idea of keeping halal, means adhering to strict rabbinical rules about preparing food, and which foods can be eaten.
Pork, rabbit and shellfish, among other meats, are strictly forbidden, as is eating dairy products with meat, or preparing food on a surface that has also been used to prepare something that is taboo.
Animals have to be slaughtered in a specific, humane way, and rabbis have to supervise the production of foods, particularly in certain circumstances, such as the lighting of ovens or the making of wine.
“It's like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” said Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, the rabbi in charge of kosher operations for R.A.B. “In the case of the English language, when you say something's not kosher, it's not right. There's always been a perception that kosher is a higher-quality product. It's twice watched.”
But some question whether ancient religious dietary laws — whose primary purpose many experts say was to keep a perilously surrounded culture unified and independent, not to keep people better fed—really translate into healthier eating habits in today's world.
“Personally, I think it's more a religion issue than anything else,” said Marion Nestle, chairwoman for New York University's Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health.
“It would be very difficult from a nutrition standpoint to argue that the food is more nutritious. It doesn't have a lot to do with nutrition; it has a lot to do with traditional cultural issues and the way things have been handled for millennia, some of which makes sense and some of which doesn't according to a nutritional standpoint.”
Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, professor of performance studies also at New York University, who specifically researches Jewish foods, said that the number of products now bearing the kosher label has grown so much exponentially that it's almost lost its meaning as a mark of distinction.
Some companies, like Coca-Cola (COKE), for example, didn't have to change any of their production methods to earn the small circled “K” that adorns its bottles, and even Coke executives would be hard-pressed to promote the soft drink as health food.
In some cases, “kosher” can actually mean the product's less healthy than the non-kosher version, as with artificial, ersatz foods that help consumers get to enjoy “forbidden” flavors while still obeying dietary restrictions — like non-dairy creamers and hydrogenated fats, which count as neither meat nor milk.
Vegetarians and those with food allergies are the people who may still benefit most from paying attention to the kosher symbol, she said.
“What the kosher seal does do is provide assurance that if a product is identified as NOT meat, the most scrupulous standards have been applied, and this could be important to vegetarians,” Kirshenblatt-Gimblett wrote in an e-mail. “The larger point is that you can trust the label because the inspection has been more scrupulous. This matters to people with allergies, food restrictions, whether medical or religious, etc.”
Even Manishewitz's people stress that they're not making any claims about kosher food necessarily being healthier.
“It doesn't mean it couldn't have any artificial colors or ingredients, though it does mean products are very carefully scrutinized,” Rossi said. “Kosher foods don't have fat or calorie requirements, and it isn't that a product is kosher that's low-fat or low-sugar. It's not being positioned by us or anyone else as a diet food for keeping the weight off, for example.”
But for a growing number of non-Jews, kosher is still the way to go. With one exception, of course.
“Gefilte fish,” Rossi said. “We have yet to find the breakout idea for selling gefilte fish to the non-Jewish consumer. If we could do that, we'd be very happy, and as crazy as it sounds, we're always thinking about
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