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Shofar FTP Archive File: antisemitism/kosher-tax/press/wfp-sentinal.060696

The Winnipeg Free Press, of June 5, 1996, D1

Kosher Explosion
High standards make for expansion in market
By Linda Shrieves, Orlando Sentinal

Quick! Can you name the fastest growing ethnic foods in North
American grocery stores?

Sure, you rattled off Mexican, Italian and Chinese foods. But
did you mention kosher?

That's right, kosher.

North Americans are in the midst of a kosher explosion - as
the number of kosher products on supermarket shelves grows 12
per cent to 15 per cent each year.

Only a decade ago, consumers looking for kosher products
headed for a specialty section in their supermarket - or to a
specialty deli. Today, they can find kosher products in most
supermarket aisles.

The mushrooming market is illustrated by the number of
packaged food products available. There are now 33,000 kosher
products on the market, being manufactured by 7,900 different
companies. In 1977, by contrast, 412 companies were producing
a total of 1,000 kosher products.

The kosher explosion began in the early 1980s - in part
because consumers have less confidence in food manufacturers,
said Menachem Lubinski, president of Integrated Marketing
Communications, a New York firm that tracks the kosher food

"In the food industry, you don't have a Good Housekeeping
symbol," Lubinsky said. "So people are groping for something
that will assure them of quality. They frequently replace the
word kosher for quality."

Think not? Consider the case of kosher hot dogs. Many non-Jews
buy them because they believe kosher hot dogs contain better
quality meat than nonkosher dogs. And some supermarkets now
carry kosher chickens, which have found a following among many
consumers because the chickens are farm-raised and are not
given growth hormones or steroids.


If you haven't noticed the kosher explosion, you're not alone.
You may not be in the habit of checking your canned and
packaged groceries for the small circled U or K symbol that
signifies a kosher product. (Each rabbinical association has a
distinct symbol, but most of the well-known certifying
organizations incorporate a U or K in their symbol.)

Wander down the average supermarket aisle, however, and you'll
probably be surprised at the products now deemed kosher.

Coca-Cola is now kosher. Jell-O is too. So is Maxwell House
Coffee, Dannon Yogurt and Coors beer. Even M&Ms are now
kosher, a blessing to Jewish chocoholics.

Why are no many food manufacturers undergoing rabbinical
inspections and the necessary paperwork to get their products
deemed kosher? Because in certain parts of the United States,
the Northeast, for example, Jews make up a significant share
of the market.

But there's a growing non-Jewish population eating kosher
foods, such as vegans, who don't eat animal products,
including dairy foods. They look for the kosher "pareve"
designation. That signals that a packaged food has no dairy
and no meat.

For vegans, the pareve label can be particularly crucial.
That's because many products that seem to be free of animal
products may contain gelatins and emulsifiers made from
rendered animal fat. Those products can't earn the kosher
designation, let alone pareve, which indicates the absence of
meat products.

For many food manufacturers -- those whos products don't use
meat -- kosher inspection involves periodic inspections by a
rabbi and turning in a list of product ingredients, which is
then checked to make sure all the ingredients are deemed


But meat inspection is much more intensive. A Jewish inspector
(mashgiach) is on site to carefully supervise the slaughter of
the animals and to inspect the carcass for any sign of disease
or abnormality. Rabbinical inspectors also ensure that the
animal is killed humanely (with one clean slit to the throat)
and that the blood is completely drained and cleaned from the

Following rabbinical inspection, animals that don't meet the
standards are then sold to nonkosher vendors.

Because of the careful inspection, kosher meat costs more than
non-kosher meat. But consumers feel they get additional
supervision that is much tougher than a federal meat


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