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Apr 30, 2012

Pri Haaretz Loses Hechsher After Serving Treif At President's House

A frightening story, for anybody who eats food made by someone other than himself or herself, has been in the news the past couple of days.

There was a suspicion that in the meal catered in the President's House on Yom HaAtzmaut for soldiers the meat was all non-kosher meat.

The suspicion is that the caterer, a company called Pri Haaretz, had a problem with their meat spoiling, leaving them with no food to serve at the upcoming event. Supposedly, the caterer went to Abu Ghosh that morning and purchased non-kosher meat which was then prepared and served at the event in the President's House.

The incident was initially reported by Maariv newspaper on Friday. In light of the report, the Rabbanut fraud division opened an investigation.

Pri Haaretz has denied the claims, saying everything was supervised, there was even a mashgiach on site at the President's House throughout the event, and all is kosher.

After the investigation, Rav Rafi Yohai, head of the fraud division in the Rabbanut, has said that the investigation discovered security cameras in which a chef of Pri Haaretz is seen buying meat in Abu Ghosh. Rav Yohai said that when the mashgiach was presented with the situation, he was shocked as he had initially said that all the meat they use comes from the same place. he obviously was not aware that they brought meat in secretly from somewhere else.

As a result of the investigation, the Rabbanut has pulled the hechsher from the caterer, and is now considering what further steps can be taken. Legal counsel of the President's House also issued a harsh statement against Pri Haretz and says they are looking at what actions they can take against Pri Haaretz.

There are two perspectives running through my mind:

  1. If the mashgiach is not checking every box of meat and controlling the meat coming in and going out, the situation is ripe for fraud. And this, many say, is one of the things seriously wrong with the Rabbanut kashrut. There is too much room in their system for allowing fraud and deception.
  2. The opposite - mistakes and fraud happen under every kashrus organization under the sun. It is a fact of life. At least in the Rabbanut there is transparency. When something like this happens, everyone knows about it, the results are public and people are made aware of the issues. That transparency means that the Rabbanut will work to seal the breach and make sure it does not happen again.  When it happens under the watch of private kashrus organizations, one has no idea that anythign happened, they answer to nobody and report to nobody, and who is ever to know if the breach was fixed.


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7 comments:

  1. Ultimately any hechsher comes down to trust, and it can go wrong even with the best hashgocha. Look at what happened in Monsey, where the butcher was selling treif chicken for ten years! I think that transparency and accountability count for the most.

    ReplyDelete
  2. And adding to your point 2 above: the "private" hechsherim would most likely actively cover up any breach, in much the same way as the same people would cover up for child molesters or wife beaters, because letting the story get out would C"V give the impression that they and their community are imperfect and prone to human faults. V'haraya: AFAIK there has never been any publicized breach in kashrus by any manufacturer, restaurant or caterer who carries the hechsher of any of these organizations (or am I wrong?). Given the starting assumption that it is inevitable that things will go wrong - frequently! - the absence of any such cases in the news makes me more than a little worried...

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm the mother of the chayelet from The Base That Went Hungry on Leil HaSeder

    The IDF Rabbinate was willing to absorb a *lot* of the worst kind of flack, as well as ear-splitting kvetching from the poor chayalim, because the cook heated up their food after Shabbat came in. Give the IDF rabbinate credit for having the backbone to say "no" when they had to. I trust their kashrut more now.

    Don't worry, my daughter got more than her share of hot food when she got home later.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My dear friend Shaul,
    have you forgotten the highly publicized chicken controversy of the eida hacharedit last year?
    It actually proves your point, the head mashgiach at the plant who reported it was fired, and the report was completely denied by the leadership of the eida.

    ReplyDelete
  5. depends on the private heksher. a few years ago sherut (sherus) yisrael gave a heksher for pesach for some brand of mayo. later they discovered that there was a kitniyot issue. they sent cabs with loudspeakers to the frum neighborhoods (where the mayo was sold) to tell people about the problem. i was impressed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ben,

    Shame on you for writing something that goes counter to the prevalent anti-charedi spirit in these comments! You must be some lying dati-leumi hating haredi fanatic!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anon: this kind of response does absolutely nothing to add to the spirit of mutual respect and understanding that you (presumably) would like to foster. Instead of addressing the substance of the comments, you go into "bunker" mentality, assuming that every criticism of anything associated with the Charedi world is motivated by blind hatred and a wish to do damage to the Charedi world. I don't believe that is at all accurate. But there is a strong perception that the Charedi world views itself as a cut above, infallible and therefore not needing any cheshbon hanefesh in terms of its own societal policies or behavior. Responses like yours, dodging the issues and effectively accusing everyone raising them of being haredi-hating fanatics, do a lot to strengthen this perception. It would be much more helpful for you to bring counter-examples (like Ben did), or other positive insights.

    For the record, I am a member of what is commonly perceived as a "Charedi" shul, and my Rav wears the Charedi uniform. Me, I'm not Charedi, not Dati Leumi - I'm just a Jew.

    ReplyDelete

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