A Tesco chicken was waved, figuratively speaking, above the heads of some of Europe’s leading rabbis at a conference in Brussels last week.
More than 100 rabbis met to discuss kashrut and how to make it cheaper.
The £2 Tesco chicken was cited as an example of cheap non-kosher food being sold across Europe. A kosher chicken costs five times more.
“The current price of kosher food in Europe makes it extremely difficult for tens of thousands of Jews to obtain it,” said Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, deputy director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe, which organised the conference. “Their failure to eat kosher erodes their Jewish identity and their insulation from non-Jewish society.” This was a particularly serious problem for poverty-stircken communities in Eastern and Central Europe.
Afterwards, Manchester’s Rabbi Yehuda Brodie said Kashrut authorities needed more sources of income in order to cut costs. “Everyone who is involved would like to see the price of kosher products kept to a minimum to make them attractive to buy.”
The Federation’s Dayan Moshe Elzas said that European consumers were hit by extra distribution costs.
“A great deal of kosher produce made in Europe is destined for the Israeli and American markets. It is then redistributed to Europe, going through a number of distributors who add on their profits. By the time it gets here, the food is quite expensive,” he said.
Another issue that caused a “fiery debate” between two visiting Israeli rabbis was parasite infestation of fish.
Rabbi Shneur Revach, head of the Institute for the Mitzvot Pertaining to the Land of Israel, argued that the public should be made aware of parasites and check every fish thoroughly. Rabbi Dov Landau of Badatz Chug Chasam Sofer took the opposite view, that it was perfectly permissible to eat the parasites.