Hebrew National, known for its kosher meat products and tagline “We answer to a higher authority”, now has to answer to a Minnesota court because of a lawsuit alleging that its products are not completely kosher.
The class-action lawsuit, filed by 11 individual consumers in May, accuses ConAgra Foods — Hebrew National’s parent company — of several procedures that made the meat non-kosher, reported the American Jewish World. The plaintiffs argue that the firm AER, which did the meat processing and slaughtering for ConAgra, failed to meet the requirements needed to label Hebrew National products as 100% kosher; they also claim that AER fired or transferred employees who complained that the meat was non-kosher. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and a court order against further mislabeling, contending that ConAgra cut corners and charged a premium for what consumers mistakenly thought were completely kosher products.
In order to be considered Kosher, a product must contain meat that has been slaughtered in a ceremonially appropriate manner and not be tainted by non-kosher foods such as pork or shellfish or additives made from them. Foods are certified as kosher by a variety of Jewish religious agencies that oversee and approve production methods.
“This is an invisible fraud,” Hart Robinovitch, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Reuters. “How does a consumer who thinks he is buying kosher meat really know he is buying kosher meat? It’s a very, very difficult thing for a consumer to detect, unless someone investigates.”
ConAgra Foods, however, did not comment on the pending litigation and said it stands behind “the quality of Hebrew National and its kosher status”.