Kosher food producers lagging behind wider market in cutting out ‘harmful’ ingredients

Bloom’s beef salami and Warburtons bagels are among food items that contain preservatives


A modern Jewish American family celebrates Passover together. They are gathered around the dining table, passing a pitcher of water and a bowl for hand washing.

Kosher food manufacturers are failing to keep pace with their mainstream counterparts when it comes to removing harmful ingredients from their products, GPs have claimed.

Jewish families are unwittingly consuming ultra-processed food crammed with additives preservatives and sweeteners that could lead to long term health problems, they said.

Regularly consuming pre-packaged products that contain such ingredients heightens the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cognitive decline.

While the wider market is increasingly offering products free of additives and preservatives, options from kosher firms are more limited.

Family favourites Bloom’s beef salami and Gilberts beef hotdogs both contain the preservative sodium nitrite — which has been linked to the development of heart disease and diabetes — while Warburtons bagels contain preservatives, emulsifiers, and one teaspoon of sugar per bagel.

GP Daniel Gordon, who treats many Jewish patients at his Golders Green practice, said the ingredients of some pre-packaged kosher products are at “the more worrying end of the scale”.

“We seem to be behind in that a lot of [kosher] processed foods… are things you would not expect to see in more modern shopping establishments — the kosher industry has quite some catching up to do,” Gordon said.

Dr Jackie Rose, a retired GP and nutritional therapist, agreed: “There are firms which are trying to make their processed foods healthier [by] reducing sugar and additives. Kosher manufacturers should follow suit.”

Gordon has witnessed a uptick in dietary-related health problems including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease in recent years — including in younger patients:

“Type 2 diabetes was traditionally taught as a disease of ageing…But increasingly, we are seeing diagnoses like diabetes and high cholesterol in much, much younger people,” he said.

“As a Jewish parent and doctor, I do worry about our children’s exposure to ultra-processed foods, specifically within the kosher food chain.”

Nutritionist Susannah Alexander cautioned against routinely consuming kosher convenience foods long term as this “may contribute to chronic conditions which seem to be prevalent in the Jewish community”.

Richard Verber of the Kosher London Beth Din (KLBD) said: “Ultra-processed foods are bad for people’s health whether kosher or not.”

He added that KLBD “recognises the importance of eating healthily, and…now certifies and approves hundreds of health foods and superfoods”.

A Gilberts spokesman said: “None of our products are red-flagged for high fat, salt
and sugar which is clear on our labelling.”

He added that sodium nitrite is “essential” to the meat curing process and the firm follows government guidelines.

Bloom’s and Warburtons were contacted for comment.

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