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Timothy D. Lytton
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In an era of anxiety about the safety and industrialization of the food supply, kosher food-with $12 billion in sales-is big business. Timothy Lytton tells a story of successful private-sector regulation: how independent certification agencies rescued U.S. kosher supervision from corruption and made it a model of nongovernmental administration.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-07523-8
    Subjects: Law, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction Why Kosher Food Certification Is Worthy of Attention
    (pp. 1-8)

    Shirley mae almer was killed by a peanut-butter sandwich. At age seventy-two, she had survived lung cancer surgery and radiation therapy for a brain tumor. But she finally succumbed to food poisoning from peanut butter contaminated with a deadly strain of salmonella. Public-health officials attributed eight additional deaths and nearly 22,500 cases of illness in late 2008 and early 2009 to foods containing peanut butter, peanut paste, and peanut meal produced by the Peanut Corporation of America.¹

    Federal inspectors at the company’s plants in Georgia and Texas discovered dead rodents, open holes in the roof, and pools of stagnant water....

  4. CHAPTER ONE Rivalry and Racketeering The Failures of Kosher Meat Supervision, 1850–1940
    (pp. 9-34)

    One night in 1933, a delivery truck owned by Jacob Branfman & Son, one of New York City’s leading kosher delicatessen manufacturers, pulled up outside of a meat-cutting establishment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The ownership of the truck was concealed by a specially designed oilcloth flap on the side of the truck that covered the Branfman name and familiar company slogan—“The Name Deserves the Fame.” A number of barrels containing nonkosher meat were loaded onto the truck, which then proceeded to the Branfman factory and retail store a short distance away, where it delivered its nonkosher cargo. During...

  5. CHAPTER TWO From Canned Soup to Packaged Nuts The Rise of Industrial Kashrus
    (pp. 35-69)

    In 1925, Howard Johnson opened a small corner drugstore in Wollaston, Massachusetts, where he sold ice cream at a soda fountain. Johnson’s ice cream grew rapidly in popularity and helped to build one of America’s largest and best-known restaurant and hotel chains. By the late 1960s, Howard Johnson’s ice cream was a leading American brand sold in restaurants and grocery stores nationwide. Ingredients such as “superb, deep-dark cocoa imported from Holland” and “real Elberta peaches” (not to mention high buttermilk content) gave Howard Johnson’s ice cream a “luxurious good-old-days goodness.” A little-known rabbi named Harvey Senter gave it kosher certification.¹...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Sour Grapes and Self-Regulation Creating an American Standard of Kashrus
    (pp. 70-103)

    Rabbi don yoel levy believes that the vinegar scandal of 1986 killed his father, Rabbi Berel Levy. The elder Levy had purchased OK from Dr. Abraham Goldstein nearly two decades earlier and made it into a leading kosher certification agency, second in size only to the OU. Levy prided himself on his diligence in verifying the kosher status of ingredients, traveling around the globe to visit foreign suppliers. “My father never accepted anything at face value. . . . He would always insist on seeing the source of the ingredients,” recalls the younger Levy. Having worked so hard to establish...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Taking Stock The Effectiveness and Integrity of the American Industrial Kashrus System
    (pp. 104-128)

    Charges of fraud and corruption in kosher certification are commonplace. For example, in January 2008, theWinnipeg Free Pressreported derelict supervision throughout the 1990s by the OUmashgiachat Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, the largest North American supplier of fish minced to produce gefilte fish. According to the article, a government audit of the company revealed that themashgiachspent much of his time on an office computer instead of observing the production line to prevent nonkosher species of fish from accidentally making their way into the mix. Moreover, for the last five years of his employment, themashgiach...

  8. Conclusion Industrial Kashrus as a Model of Private Third-Party Certification
    (pp. 129-154)

    Rabbi zushe blech recalls being introduced as a speaker on biotechnology and religion at an annual convention of the Institute of Food Technologists. The moderator of the session described him as a leading expert in industrial kosher certification and teased him that he should consider returning to school for a formal degree in food sciences. “So I got up,” remembers Blech, “and said, ‘Thank you very much for your kind words, but you should know that I already have a university degree. It is in political science—which is far more useful in kosher certification than a food sciences degree.”¹...

  9. APPENDIX A Controversy over OU Dominance of Kosher Meat Certification
    (pp. 155-160)
  10. APPENDIX B An Overview of Antitrust Concerns
    (pp. 161-163)
  11. APPENDIX C The Iowa Slaughterhouse Scandal and the Movement for Ethical Kashrus
    (pp. 164-165)
  12. APPENDIX D Self-Reported Data from Big Five Kosher Certification Agencies
    (pp. 166-167)
  13. APPENDIX E Supermarket Survey Data
    (pp. 168-170)
  14. Glossary of Terms and Names
    (pp. 171-173)
  15. List of Acronyms
    (pp. 174-174)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 175-220)
  17. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 221-224)
  18. Index
    (pp. 225-232)