Kashrut crisis on Merseyside over non-kosher meat

Emergency measures taken after discovery of non-kosher deliveries to deli. Manchester store under same ownership has licence withdrawn


Liverpool Jewish leaders have instituted emergency measures to provide kosher food for communal facilities after the city’s only kosher meat supplier was found to have received regular orders of non-kosher meat for a number of years.

In an official notice published on Monday, the Liverpool Kashrut Authority (LKA) informed community members that “serious breaches of kashrut have taken place at Roseman’s Delicatessen… including deliveries to the shop of non-kosher meat and poultry”.

Locals were instructed not to use utensils or ovens which had been used to cook meat or poultry bought from the deli “until further notice”.

On Tuesday evening, a further notice from Rabbi Natan Fagleman of the LKA advised customers to re-kosher appliances and utensils, including pots, pans, ovens and microwaves and cutlery, if they had been used to prepare a range of items purchased from Roseman’s.

Instructions were supplied on how to kosher ovens and microwaves. Public koshering sessions for other utensils were held at the city’s Childwall shul on Wednesday.

Those who had taken affected food to homes outside Liverpool, or were unable to attend the Childwall sessions, were urged to contact the kashrut authority.

The Manchester Beth Din (MBD) also issued a warning over Gough’s Deli in Prestwich, which was also operated by Roseman’s owner, Robert Kaye, saying it had “withdrawn its licence with immediate effect”. On Tuesday, it was reported that Mr Kaye had died suddenly, aged 43.

Howard Winik, president of Merseyside Jewish Representative Council, confirmed that “urgent steps” had been taken to re-kosher communal kitchens, such as those at the King David School campus, Merseyside Jewish Community Care and at local care home Stapely.

He said the kitchens on the KD campus were operating once again. The MJCC kitchens had been “closed and sealed. Frozen meals will be provided in place of the usual, freshly cooked food for those needing meals-on-wheels.” He hoped services would be restored to normal by next week.

Mr Winik added that the rep council was “very saddened to hear of the untimely and tragic death of Mr Kaye. We extend our sincere condolences to his widow and children.”

He also reported that Roseman’s would remain open, operating under senior staff with “full rabbinic supervision”. It had stocks of kosher chickens that were “sealed and carry a proper hechsher”. Sealed kosher dry goods could also be purchased from local mainstream supermarkets.

Rabbi Fagleman told the JC that although the kashrut authority was sure treif food had been “ordered and delivered to the deli, we don’t have absolute clarity on what was sold in the deli. But unfortunately, we have to make assumptions.”

In Manchester, the MBD’s notice informed the public that “anything that has been bought at Gough’s Deli, until now with an MK seal on it, or anything sold over the counter, is considered kosher.

“However, any products bearing a Liverpool Kashrut Commission [logo], or labelled Gough’s without an MK seal attached…must be considered non-kosher.”

Steven Wiseglass, a spokesman for Gough’s deli, confirmed to a JC reporter on Tuesday that it had received a delivery of non-kosher chicken livers in recent days, but insisted the delivery was made in error.

Mr Wiseglass said the store would have operated as normal — albeit without a kashrut licence — had it not been for Mr Kaye’s death. “[The licence] was withdrawn yesterday and he died today.

“If someone delivers non-kosher meat to you, and it was still sealed and it wasn’t opened, and it’s quite clearly a mistake, then why should you be ostracised for it?”

A Manchester Beth Din source said that late last week, a delivery had been made to the Manchester store by a relief driver in error — deliveries were usually made to the Liverpool premises.

A Beth Din shomer at Gough’s  identified the livers as treif and none went on sale.

According to the source, the MBD then launched an investigation into both businesses, working in conjunction with the Liverpool authority, which supervises Roseman’s. It did not act until the evidence was “100 per cent verified”.

It had not been responsible for notices which circulated on Sunday warning of the situation at Roseman’s and Gough’s.

It had “audited the food service trail” and contacted the non-kosher meat wholesaler, who had been unaware of the nature of the business he was supplying and who had co-operated fully.

In a meeting on Monday morning, the wholesaler provided “written evidence, including all the invoices”, establishing that non-kosher deliveries had been made to Roseman’s “for a number of years”.

Mr Kaye met MBD officials in the afternoon and when the findings were put to him,“there was no denial”, the source reported.

As there was no evidence that treif food had ever been sold by Gough’s, its customers had not been advised to re-kosher utensils or ovens.

“There was no suggestion of legal action, there was no suggestion of any form of financial compensation or damages or anything like that,” the source added. “It was just done as ‘this is wrong, it can’t continue, we have the evidence, it has to stop’. Crystal clear.”

The source also confirmed that, given the closure of Roseman’s would leave Liverpool without a kosher meat supply, every effort had been made to keep the deli operational.

“We tried to find a way forward — we’d even said that things could continue to be sold, but that they would have to be sold sealed. We were trying to find a middle ground in a difficult situation.”

It had even been agreed that had Mr Kaye ‘cleaned up his act for the future’, there might have been a way forward.

“Obviously there would have had to be a complete break and start again, a reset with different processes and procedures. Even that was potentially offered for the future, because obviously Liverpool needs a kosher supply of food.”

The source said Mr Kaye had left the meeting “in reasonable spirits”, although clearly there was business damage, albeit self-inflicted.

“This is a tragedy for everybody. It’s a tragedy for the customers of the shop and it’s a tragedy for the family.”

Mr Winik said the Liverpool Jewish authorities were working “to make sure that there is a continuing supply of fresh kosher food for the community.

“How that will pan out is something we can’t say at the moment. But we will make sure it carries on. It may be that we will have to arrange for food to be brought in from Manchester.

“We ask community members to fully support the steps being taken by the kashrut authority and by local rabbis in ensuring that supplies are continued and to follow any advice they are given with regard to kashrut.”


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