Orthodox Union sues fish importer for fraud

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SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — The Orthodox Union is suing a fish importer for false use of its kosher mark.

In a suit filed this month in Manhattan federal court against Western Edge Inc., the OU accused the Pennsylvania-based seafood importer of trademark infringement and deceptive trade practice, The Wall Street Journal reported. The OU alleged that the company falsely declared in a letter that its tilapia had OU kosher certification.

Kosher certification agencies are particularly vigilant about controlling use of their kosher marks in the fish industry, where “species substitution” — selling an inexpensive fish as a higher-priced fish — is a recognized problem. Tilapia is a kosher fish but can become non-kosher during processing.

According to the Journal, in 2007 Western Edge applied for OU certification for its tilapia imported from China, but withdrew the request soon afterward.

A company spokesperson told reporters that the letter claiming OU certification came from its plant in China, and that the company is working to resolve the issue with the OU.

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