Fowl play as new chicken line is launched

A new line of chickens aimed at strictly Orthodox consumers was due to reach shops in London this week as an alternative to the Kedassia brand.

Oif Mehadrin chickens — oif is Yiddish for poultry, mehadrin describes a stricter standard of inspection — are being distributed by wholesalers Lewco Pak under the label of the London Board for Shechita.

Lewco Pak owner Stephen Grossman said on Tuesday: “We’ve had several trial runs and now we are in full production. They should start to filter into outlets over the next week or so. They should find their place in the market at a very competitive price compared to the current offerings of mehadrin chickens.”

The birds also carry the kosher seal of Rabbi Eliezer Schneelbag of Edgware and Rabbi Binyomin Eckstein of the Belz community in Stamford Hill.

Mehadrin chickens come under closer rabbinical scrutiny than those under the ordinary kosher label and are therefore more costly to produce. For example, the back of the bird will be fully split after slaughter and the insides brushed before the application of koshering salt.

Until now, Kedassia, the kashrut arm of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, has held a strong grip on the Charedi market in the capital.

A source close to the Union said he would be surprised if the new mehadrin birds “made a big impact in Stamford Hill”.

Coincidentally, the new LBS line arrived only days after Kedassia experienced problems with poultry supplies ahead of the busy pre-Pesach period.

Kedassia circulated notices apologising to consumers after 80 per cent of the chickens killed under its auspices last Thursday were deemed non-kosher by its supervisors.

An unusually high number of birds were found to have torn sinews — an injury rendering them unfit according to kashrut standards.

This was “despite the fact that the poultry was purchased from farms with good quality chickens”, the notice stated.

A Kedassia spokesman claimed the problem had “eased this week and we hope by the end of the week to have caught up. We hope to make sure we have enough supplies for Yomtov.”

Although the problem with the birds’ legs occurred from time to time, he said, he could not recall it happening on such a scale before.

Last updated: 10:45am, March 18 2013