KosChertified? Blogger will be highlighting excerpts of the book “From Kosher to Halal: When greed, politics and the sneaky destruction of Western Civilization intertwine” by Suzanne Bousquet. We hope this helps our readers become “kosher aware”, so that they can better understand how this religious certification industry affects them! Here is our first post:
An Investigative Journalist from the CJN Unmasks COR
In May 2014, Paul Lungen, a journalist with Canadian Jewish News, revealed the results of an eight-month investigation into the dubious commercial practices of the Kashruth Council of Canada (COR). CJN wanted to shed light on “the rumors, insinuations and allegations” circulating about COR. It was a minefield: CJN was accused of committing the sin of chillul HaShem (profanation of the name of God). He [Lungen] defended himself in an editorial. Owners of kosher establishments, food producers, suppliers and caterers described to the journalist their business relations with COR. Several complaints were mentioned: arbitrary rules which change without explanation, arbitrary pricing, false declarations concerning what is or is not kosher and unnecessarily costly demands. For once, we finally have precise figures on the financial aspects of kosher [certification]. We read that the Hubberts vegetable oil company suspended its contract with COR upon learning that its next bill would climb to $45,000. Between 2004 and 2008, Raphy Amar and Joelle Edery, owners of the kosher restaurant Gladstone’s, closed their doors because operating expenses were too high, including payments of $2000 to COR. The hourly fee for supervising a caterer: $35-38; for institutional customers: $42-45. In 2003, COR had competition for supervising Sobey’s grocery store in Thornhill. The Vaad Ha’ar of Montreal (MK) offered to do the job for $100,000, i.e., about half of what COR was charging. The latter lowered their offer to $60,000 to retain the contract. In 2013, COR reported $5.4 million in revenues. Nine employees earned salaries of between $80,000 and $119,000, and one employee received between $120,000 and $159,000. Although COR is registered as a charitable organization, it allotted only $2500 to charity in 2013. The journalist also listed a number of incongruous details among the financial declarations of COR.
Rabbi Moshe Bensalmon, who was with COR for twenty years, founded the Badatz Toronto kosher certification agency in 2008 along with Rabbi Amram Assayag from the Sephardic Kehila Centre. But COR warned the relevant companies and its own customers that if they signed with Badatz, their products would be rejected by all establishments where COR is present. Although its prices for supervision and certification are 10-30% less than those of COR, Badatz did not succeed in attracting many companies. Bensalmon is certain customers are paying too much at the grocery because of COR. The Jewish Law dictates our conclusion in the Babylonian Talmud, under halakha (legal section), article 94a, it is written: “It is forbidden to lead people into error, even non-Jews.”
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