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Case against Hebrew National returned to original state court

(JTA) — A lawsuit alleging that Hebrew National foods are not strictly kosher has been returned by a federal appeals court to the Minnesota state court which first heard the case.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found on Friday that the lawsuit — Wallace et al v. ConAgra Foods Inc., 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-1485 — filed by 11 kosher consumers, should not have been heard in federal court and returned it to a state court in Dakota County, Minn., Reuters reported.

The lawsuit against ConAgra, the packaged food conglomerate that owns the Hebrew National brand, was originally filed in May 2012 by 11 customers who accused the company of consumer fraud for claiming products sold under the label were kosher.

Hebrew National carries the symbol of the Triangle K kosher certifier, an agency that is considered insufficiently reliable in certain Orthodox circles. The complaint alleged that Triangle K and AER, which does the slaughtering, did not abide by “objective” standards of kosher slaughter. In particular, they claim the company did not inspect, clean or segregate the meat in a manner “required to be considered kosher.”

In February, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank ruled that because kosher is a religious standard, it is a subject for rabbinic debate — not a federal court ruling. The appeals court said Frank dismissed the case “with prejudice,” and because of that it should be heard again in the original state court.

 

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