Have a cheeseburger (thanks, Heather)

By Jonathan Kalmus, July 15, 2010
Rabbi Yehuda Brodie (left) with  Rabbi Hillel Royde, Heather Mills and  Dayan Yehuda Osher Steiner

Rabbi Yehuda Brodie (left) with Rabbi Hillel Royde, Heather Mills and Dayan Yehuda Osher Steiner

Heather Mills, ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney, has secured kashrut certification from the Manchester Beth Din for her vegan food brand - although the products in her range that simulate pork and seafood will not get the rabbinic stamp on its packaging.

The Redwood Wholefood Company produces plant-based alternatives to chicken, beef and pork, as well as and dairy-free cheeses. All of its 61 products are kosher, but the Beth Din's MK kosher stamp will not appear on Cheatin' ham slices, vegetarian bacon rashers and scampi-style pieces.

Beth Din Dayan Yehuda Osher Steiner, who says he can only "take my hat off" to the company that allowed him a year to analyse hundreds of Redwood's factory ingredients, explained that the issue was not with halachah. He said Judaism not only permitted Jews to eat pork alternatives, but positively promoted the practice.

"According to halachah, anything God created and is kosher one should taste. The Talmud states clearly that for every item God prohibited, he created an alternative tasting one that is permitted. If one doesn't taste them, God asks why not.

"But our own market research, which surveyed both secular and religious Jews across the UK, showed that consumers thought it was horrible to buy pork-style foods and the like. The entire factory is absolutely kosher, but from a marketing perspective it makes people upset."

Ms Mills said she did not apply for kosher certification on the pork products out of sensitivity: "I didn't feel it was right to put the kosher stamp on these products out of respect for people who don't eat those foods for religious reasons, even with the Redwood products being 'take- offs' of the real thing.

Rabbi Yehuda Brodie added: "For those who have ever been tempted by a cheeseburger, this is a kosher way to enjoy such a delicacy."

Last updated: 11:50am, July 15 2010