Federation says its kosher meat operation is not causing communal disunity


The Federation of Synagogues has rejected claims of causing conflict in London’s kosher meat market by launching a new range of products aimed at strictly Orthodox consumers.

Benjamin Mire, president of the London Board of Shechita, the licensing body for mainstream kosher butchers, last week spoke of his “shock” at learning of the planned Federation operation.

He accused the Federation – which is one of three partners in the LBS with the United Synagogue and the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation – of acting in competition and conflict with the LBS.

But the Federation’s legal adviser, Professor David Rosen, explained that the Federation were aiming at people not currently catered for by the Board.

“British Jewry should embrace diversity and competition in the kashrus market,” he said on Tuesday.

Last month the LBS rejected a proposal from the Federation to launch a new mehadrin range of meat - mehadrin requiring a stricter degree of supervision than standard kosher meat.

The Federation said it wanted provide an alternative to Kedassia, the kashrut arm of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.

But the LBS said the mehadrin range could cause confusion among consumers and imply that the kashrut quality of its existing brands were “below par”. As well as standard meat, the LBS also offers glatt, chalak bet Yosef and oif mehadrin for consumers who seek a stricter level of supervision.

In a statement, Professor Rosen said the Federation was “proud” to be one of the three parent bodies of the LBS and was “committed for this association to continue”

While the LBS remained “a standard of distinction”, he said the Federation saw “ a change in market demands and have reacted to a growing number of people who want to be additionally strict in line with the teachings and customs of their rabbonim, which is not currently catered for by the LBS. That does not diminish or detract from the standard or quality of the hechsher [kosher certificate] of the LBS.”

The possibility of confusion among customers was a fallacy, he said: “Competition is good for the consumer. Consumer sovereignty dictates better quality of goods and should encourage cheaper prices.”

Mr Mire wrote to Federation president Andrew Cohen last week to complain that the Federation had supervised shechita of beef in Ireland and given a licence to Gilberts, one of the LBS’ main licensees, to supply the new mehadrin range.

He said it seemed “quite contrary” for the Federation to take part in a cross-communal body while organising a separate shechita operation.

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