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Oy Vey... State cuts kosher inspections to bupkis

Jan 05, 2011 8:25 am
Here's another side to the state budget cuts, care of the Mid Hudson News Network: New York has completely eliminated its kosher food inspectors from the budget in a move officials say will save almost $1 million. In their place, the 85 food safety inspectors around New York will be trained in kosher registry information provided by the rabbi in charge of the now defunct program. And Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who represents Sullivan County, home to a growing number of Hasid and Lubavitcher communities, doesn’t like the move.

“I don’t know how long the training will take and I think it’s important to have part of that community involved and who are in the know in regarding kosher food and how to touch it and how to handle in those positions,” she said.

Rabbi Luzer Weiss, who will be retained to educate the safety inspectors, said given the state’s fiscal condition, “it is incumbent upon us to make our programs operate more efficiently and effectively.” He said he is confident that the inspectors will be able to maintain “the same or better level of protection with this expanded force of inspectors.”

Meanwhile, Howard Katzenstein of the Orthodox Union, which oversees kosher food preparation and labeling worldwide, said you don’t have to be Jewish to eat kosher food... and that could spell greater problems.

“Bear in mind that the kosher consumers are not only Jewish consumers, but also vegetarians, Seventh Day Adventists, Moslems, individuals with food allergies,” he said. “Mislabelings occur sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally and the state was quicker to respond than would a lawsuit which drags its way through the slow wheels of the justice system."