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Carey Signs into Law Measures to Strengthen Legal Safeguards for Buyers of Kosher Products

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A number of measures to strengthen legal safeguards in New York State for purchasers of kosher products–including what was described as a landmark requirement for registration of kosher delicatessens for the first time–have been signed into laws by Governor Hugh Carey.

They are the first such kosher consumer protection laws in the United States, Rabbi Schulem Rubin, chief supervisor of the kosher law enforcement division of New York State’s Department of Agriculture and Markets, said today. The division, which has a staff of roving inspectors, is responsible for implementation of the state’s wide range of such protection measures.

The new laws also dear with meat and with poultry and parve products. The latter refer to products which contain neither meat nor milk ingredients and can be used with either category.

Rubin said there are more than 200 kosher delicatessens in New York State. Under a law signed July 21, which will take effect September 1, operators and owners of the delicatessens will be required to register the name of the individual who provides the rabbinical supervision which assures that the delicatessen is kosher.

REQUIREMENT OF THE LAW

He said a registry will be in place in his division office by September I for such registration. The law also will require registration of the name of the endorsing rabbi at slaughterhouses. That registration requirement applies to supervision of non-prepackaged meat and meat preparations. Each such piece of meat or carcass has a tag indicating the name of the ritual slaughterer, as well as the stamp of the federal Department of Agriculture, Rubin said.

He said that since every meat wholesaler handles both kosher and non-kosher meat, the wholesalers must register with his division the name of the person assuring that his kosher meat is actually kosher. If there is no rabbinic supervisor in the plant of a wholesale, the owner assumes the responsibility and must register accordingly.

The same requirement applies to the fabricator, who cuts up carcasses for sale by the kosher butcher. Similarly, the kosher butcher shop owners will have to register the source of the supervision under which a shop operates as a kosher establishment.

LAW ON DATING KOSHER POULTRY

Rubin said another bill, which will become law December 1, requires the dating of kosher poultry which has not been eviscerated, soaked and salted immediately after ritual slaughter. The new measure, signed by Carey on May 20, provides that all such poultry–known in New York State as “New York dressed poultry”–must, after December 1, have affixed to the carcass a tag or plumba stating the date and time of ritual slaughter.

He said that because many observant home-makers prefer to eviscerate and soak and salt poultry themselves, hundreds of thousands of pounds of such poultry are shipped into the state each week.

Rubin said this raises a problem because if a bird is not washed within 72 hours of slaughter, it becomes impossible to rid the carcass of all of its forbidden blood. After that period of time, he said, salting will not remove all the blood.

Under present law, Rubin said, all kosher poultry has affixed to the carcass a plumba or tag certifying it has been ritually slaughtered. It the kosher poultry is shipped into New York State, it must have the tag certifying kosher slaughter, but the housewife has no way of knowing how long a time has elapsed between slaughter and her time of purchase.

The requirement of the new law mandating affixing of a tag indicating time and date of slaughter will alert the housewife not to buy an uneviscerated, unsalted bird 72 hours or more after it has been slaughtered, Rubin noted.

ISSUE OF USING THE TERM ‘PARVE’

He reported an area particularly susceptible of abuse is use of the term “parve” on food. He said some manufacturers put the word on the label of products solely to get sales from observant consumers and that a check of ingredients of a product labeled “parve” may indicate use of sodium casinate or other ingredients which may be of dairy origin.

He said such suspect “parve” foods can be analyzed in a special section of the state’s laboratories in Albany and that producers of products packaged as “parve” found to have dairy ingredients are subject to fines for fraudulent labeling.

Any person or company found to be involved in violating kashrut rules in processing of meat or meat products can be tried on criminal charges and be given civil penalities ranging from $50 to $5,000 for each offense on conviction, Rubin said.

Asked how a New York State law is enforced in the other states, Rubin said that authorities of other states are never involved. He said the practice of his division is to write to out-of-state firms at all levels–slaughtering firms, wholesalers, processors and manufacturers–asking each firm to fill out the New York State kosher enforcement division form which identifies the endorsing rabbi or rabbinical supervisor for the products the company wants to sell in New York State.

He said the companies cooperate fully because they want to do business with consumers of kosher products in New York State. He added that authorities of other states have never challenged the enforcement activities of his division in those states, although in strict legal terms, New York State officials have no authority to seek to enforce New York State law in other states.

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