Butchers’ have refuted a claim that non-kosher substances are being injected into kosher chicken.
Licensed Kosher Meat Traders’ Association chairman Jacky Lipowicz hit out at the Independent newspaper which published a full-page feature on the issue last week.
The paper’s consumer affairs correspondent, Martin Hickman, highlighted a Food Standards Agency report which said that chicken breasts used in the catering trade were being secretly injected with pork and beef waste. According to the report, European factories were using the technique to bulk the chicken breasts out and thus achieve higher prices. The FSA has been campaigning since 2001 to stop the practice.
The story said: Muslims and Jews are “conned into eating meat bulked-out with cow and pig products”.
The story pointed out that Jews buy poultry from kosher butchers and Muslims from halal butchers, but there was no comment from either community.
Mr Lipowicz described the report as “a load of rubbish”. He said: “This is completely misleading and I am very upset about it. We use only fresh chicken in the kosher trade and even the article makes it clear that nothing can be added to that. We don’t buy the frozen chicken breasts the article talks about, nor do we have that sort of low quality.
“We don’t sell imported chicken except from a recognised authority in Israel. The produce must be labelled with the supervising rabbinic authority. There’s no way anything like that could enter the kosher food chain in Britain because of the very strict levels of supervision we have.”
Mr Lipowicz said that several years ago he was invited to meet representatives of the Muslim community who were interested in introducing a similar supervisory system for halal meat.
“But when they found out how much it cost, they said it was too expensive for them,” he said.
David Rose, executive director of the London Board for Shechita, said the report by the FSA actually made the case for people to buy kosher meat.
“International food fraud is a rapidly growing crime, which the FSA has recognised by setting up a special task force,” said Mr Rose.
“In the current economic climate, with fluctuating exchange rates and spiralling livestock prices, consumers are rightly looking for a bargain and fraud poses a threat to all.
“But those who buy kosher meat and poultry certified by British not-for-profit shechita supervising bodies can be confident that they are not at risk of fraud. Kosher meat and poultry is supervised from the moment of slaughter right through to the butcher’s shop counter or the factory despatch bay.
“The products will not contain any undeclared additives and the UK shechita and kashrus supervision process is so stringent that it would be impossible for kosher products to be adulterated by unscrupulous manufacturers.”
Responding to the criticism, reporter Martin Hickman said: “There was no intention to mislead anyone in this article. By running
it, the Independent was high-lighting an important issue: meat adulteration.
“We stated clearly that Jews ate kosher meat and that the tainted chicken was sold by general wholesalers, rather than kosher butchers.
“Like other diners, any Jews eating chicken in a non-kosher restaurant — which I imagine happens occasionally — run the risk of unwittingly consuming pork, something we wanted to warn about.”