Big Brother at a kosher restaurant near you

Spy cameras may be installed in kosher kitchens


Talks on using cameras in the kitchens of kosher restaurants have led to accusations of "Big Brother" tactics by the supervisory body.

The scheme could mean officials at the London Beth Din could log in online and access cameras inside its 17 restaurants at any time.

The footage could alert the KLBD to staff breaking any of the strict conditions required under its supervision, including scrutinising and cleaning vegetables of all insects and ensuring fish and meat are prepared separately.

Rabbi Jeremy Conway, executive director of the London Beth Din Kashrut Division, said: "We have no immediate plans to install cameras in restaurants.

"However, this is a great idea which could help reduce the amount of inspection required and thus the costs of supervision. The concept of using modern technology to enhance Jewish living is at the centre of the KLBD approach to kashrut and the ability to have 24/7 supervision for minimal cost is definitely something we should be looking at."

One London restaurant owner said: "I think it is quite intrusive and while we would have nothing to hide, it kind of says the Beth Din doesn't trust its licence-holders, and smells a bit of Big Brother."

But others did not object to the idea. Leor Nissim, who owns the White House and Isola Bella chains, said: "When I was in the process of opening a new restaurant in Golders Green earlier this year, I was asked by the Beth Din about the cameras and was told they were looking into having access to them.

"We install cameras anyway and our staff all know they are being watched. It may seem like an invasion of privacy but if a restaurant hasn't got anything to hide, why not?

"Our camera systems are on the internet so you can log on at any time and have access to the cameras."

Other batei din are also considering similar schemes.

Manchester Beth Din, which licenses six restaurants, began accessing cameras at Pagoda in Whitefield six months ago. Registrar, Rabbi Yehuda Brodie, said: "We will look to take advantage of those licensees who already have cameras.

"It's not a substitute for inspections, but an added safeguard and opportunity to exercise vigilance. It is useful in places where there is not full-time supervision. "

Eli Kienwald, chief executive of the Federation of Synagogues, which supervises 24 restaurants, said it was considering a similar scheme.

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