How Careful Must We Be When Eating Out With A Hechsher

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  • #1489663
    Holymoses
    Participant

    I received the following reply from Rabbi Kuber about a question which I sent him :-

    In other words, every agency, organization, and individual out there giving hashgacha should be doing a proper job. Unfortunately, many are not, even to the point that one cannot eat at establishments that they certify or eat the products that they certify unless the kashrus system is independently verified. Ubiquitous underperformance, even in bastions of holiness, does not make it more acceptable to do a sub-standard job, but it allows us to be more kind in considering that a deficient agency, organization, or individual is not a standout, but one of many.

    The reasons vary: lack of expertise in kashrus systems, lack of management skills, lack of budget, lack of the community鈥檚 willingness to properly fund a top-notch, or even Halachically acceptable, kashrus program, misplaced compassion towards unqualified staff, turf wars, negligence, and sometimes even avarice and lack of yir鈥檃s Shamayim. But the consequences are the same: a community unknowingly eats that which is Halachically prohibited, and the knowing of the community are left with no good options, and are frowned upon by the unknowing.

    May Hashem protect all His children, and grant us all to eat properly kosher food.

    Kol Tov,

    Mordechai Kuber

    #1490569
    Shopping613 馃尃
    Participant

    I was at an ice cream shop with a pretty good hechsher, and saw the lady working there use the same utensil first in Milchig ice cream, than to Parve.

    I didn’t say anything because she was already being mean to me (I can’t remember more than that, this was about a year ago) but never managed to figure out who the manager was…

    EVEN a good hechsher, would not have stopped this.

    This non-religious girl simply did not CARE.

    #1490549
    DovidBT
    Participant

    I received the following reply from Rabbi Kuber about a question which I sent him :-

    Is “How Careful Must We Be When Eating Out With A Hechsher?” the question that you sent him?

    I don’t see how the answer provides any practical information, or tells us anything that we didn’t already know.

    #1490520
    Reb Eliezer
    Participant

    诇讗 谞转谉 转讜专讛 诇诪诇讗讻讬 讛砖专转 we do the best we can and ask Hashem that he should help us that we should not falter. As long as we trust the baal hamachshir we did our best. I figure that the person has a good reason to eat out.

    #1490685
    yehudayona
    Participant

    Who is Rabbi Kuber?

    #1490701
    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    R’ Kuber is the rav of a shul in the town of Telz Stone outside of Yerushalayim but more important for purposes of this article, he is one of the top kashruth experts in EY who worked for many years at the OU. His biggest complaint over many years has been the chronic screw-ups associated with the widespread practice of a catering firm with otherwise top of the line chassideshe hashgacha (the gold standard) delivering food for an event held at some shul or simcha hall where there is no onsite mashgiach to supervise the preparation and serving of that food to the attendees. He has argued that in most cases, the caterer should simply refuse to do business with parties who have not provided for real time hashgacha of the food service. He has noted that in the issue is almost always a desire to save the cost of paying a mashgiach to monitor the simcha, sometimes using the excuse that there will be chashuve rabbonim and knowledgeable askanim attending and thus “nothing bad can happen”

    #1490709
    Avi K
    Participant

    OP, wouldn’t it be better to eat out with a person than with a hechsher?

    #1490873
    iacisrmma
    Participant

    GH: You seem to always equate chassidsheh hecshseirim with the term “gold standard”. Maybe to you they are, but not to everyone else. I do not trust a product or establishment any more because it has both the OU and a chasidesheh hechsher. If it only had the OU I would still trust it.

    #1490926
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    If anything the OU is the gold standard of kashruth, not the chassic heachshers. The OU is a much bigger name and has alot more to lose if they would make a kashruth mistake

    #1490964
    Gadolhadorah
    Participant

    Just personal perspective but I have found some of the small chassideshe hashgachos to be more rigorous and focused than the larger commercial hashgachos….you are correct, its a personal judgement and to some, a Badazt or niche Yekeshe hashgacha might be the same “gold standard” to others. R’ Kuber’s point here is that whatever hashgacha you rely upon, its only reliable up to the point they transfer the food to the ultimate serving entity or customer…anything you eat that is not directly from a sealed container is at your own risk unless you can trace the “chain of custody” to equally reliable hashgacha to the one that supervised the preparation of the food.

    #1490975
    鈽 DaasYochid 鈽
    Participant

    I was at an ice cream shop with a pretty good hechsher, and saw the lady working there use the same utensil first in Milchig ice cream, than to Parve.

    I didn鈥檛 say anything because she was already being mean to me (I can鈥檛 remember more than that, this was about a year ago) but never managed to figure out who the manager was鈥

    EVEN a good hechsher, would not have stopped this.

    This non-religious girl simply did not CARE.

    A good hechsher would not allow her to work there.

    #1490976
    鈽 DaasYochid 鈽
    Participant

    Also, if you saw something, you have an obligation to tell the kashrus agency/rav hamachshir.

    #1490999
    Reb Eliezer
    Participant

    In the news recently that the Bais Din of South Africa removed the hashgocha from the largest caterers in South Johanusburg from Stan & Pete.

    #1490981
    yochy
    Participant

    I have both a national and heimish hechsher on my place. The national one comes every month- the hemish one hasn’t come in well over a year and he has no idea what is even in my products. So there are no rules but they definitely both have pros and cons.

    #1491027
    Joseph
    Participant

    All national hechsheirim aren’t created equal and all heimishe ones aren’t created equal. Some are much better than others and some are worthless.

    #1491038
    apushatayid
    Participant

    Whenever I eat out with a hechsher, I keep my plate very close to me. You never know when it will try to swipe from your plate.

    #1491477
    Shopping613 馃尃
    Participant

    Daas, the store switched managers, and names, and heschshers a few months ago. So I DON’T think it’s relevant.

    But you think the heschers know who mans the stands at Central Bus Station?
    Unless they have someone there all the time, what’s to stop a non-religous worker from cutting corners because they are feeling lazy and don’t really care?

    #1491463
    apushatayid
    Participant

    “The national one comes every month- the hemish one hasn鈥檛 come in well over a year and he has no idea what is even in my products.”

    The mashgiach is probably paid by both organizations, when he comes for one, he knows exactly whats going on, on behalf of the other as well.

    #1491460
    DovidBT
    Participant

    Whenever I eat out with a hechsher, I keep my plate very close to me. You never know when it will try to swipe from your plate.

    If a hechsher touches your wine, are you still permitted to drink it?

    #1491633
    CTLAWYER
    Participant

    I’ve read this thread with great interest and have a few comments think back on my time in the kosher food business and as a consumer.

    #1 I just came back from a quick trip to Johannesburg and was there when Stan and Pete lost their hashgacha. The supervising agency did the right thing and made sure consumers who had booked affairs would be accommodated by other establishments under supervision.

    In the 1970s I was in the kosher bakery business and later the kosher catering and restaurant business in the New Haven area.
    Bakery supervision was lax. the mashgiach only visited monthly and was happy that I could light the ovens and take challah. Problem was workers on the night production shift (when owners were not present) would bring in their own treif meals and heat them in the ovens. I reported this to the mashgiach, but nothing happened. I left for other opportunities.
    The kosher catering and restaurant business had great on premises supervision, BUT our keilim went out to synagogues of all varieties and were washed in their dishwashers and used ion their ovens with only the supervision of the synagogue Rabbi, not our kosher supervising authority. Once I saw that, I never ate from our catering division again. (It was housed in a separate building and there was no mixing with the restaurant).
    Problem is that if you were a kosher consumer and you knew X caterers was under Y supervision and you were invited to a dinner at the JCC or Synagogue Z catered by X, you assumed it was kosher. BUT, as I learned, once the sealed containers left Caterer X’s facility kashrut was no longer at a guaranteed standard.

    In most cases, unless I know who is supervising the facility where the affair is held, I come to the simcha, will have a drink and maybe a bit of fresh fruit and that’s it.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Another problem that is encountered out of town. Many brides like a particular baker for ‘wedding cakes.’ The baker is under ‘reliable’ kosher supervision, so area kosher caterers are permitted to allow brides to order and buy their cakes from the baker and the caterer plates and serves them at a x$ per head fee.

    Mrs. CTL ordered our wedding cake form the baker all those decades ago. At the chasunah, I heard her tell the caterer: ‘make sure to save the riser posts used to set the tiers, I have to return them to the baker and get my $100 deposit back’
    Turns out this baker charged a deposit on all these post/risers and had no control over where they went, many non-Jews ordered form the baker. Who knew how these items were washed and then reused on the next customer’s cake.
    We made a symbolic cut of the wedding cake and the caterer cut sheet cakes he had in his freezer to our guests for dessert.
    The caterer’s supervising rabbi had never considered this problem and had allowed these cakes for years. That ended with our chasunah.

    #1491642
    Thinking out loud
    Participant

    “The mashgiach is probably paid by both organizations, when he comes for one, he knows exactly whats going on, on behalf of the other as well”.

    Is it likely that yochy, who has a hechsher on his “place” doesn’t know that the mashgiach works for both hechsherim?
    If that is the case, does the mashgiach look for “extra” or “more” details than yochy is expecting from the national hechsher? If the standards are the same, the mashgiach is just getting paid double for doing nothing extra??
    Or, perhaps, the “heimishe” hechsher serves as a “clearing house” for products with the national hescher, for their constituency. Maybe they are stamping their approval on the national hechsher’s standards in this location, because their constituency has certain standards, and they are letting them know that those standards are being met by the national hechsher, in this particular case?

    For example, if they are makpid on bishul yisroel for tuna fish, and the national hechsher isn’t, but in this location, only tuna fish that is bishul yisroel is being used, and the rest of their standards are in sync for this type of place, they will put their stamp on it too.

    Or it’s a bunch of nonsense, in which case, the problem with the heimishe hechsher is even bigger. If they are playing games, than they are not trustworthy altogether, no matter what chumras they hold from! I hope not.

    #1491645
    Eli Y
    Participant

    Shop: “I was at an ice cream shop with a pretty good hechsher, and saw the lady working there use the same utensil first in Milchig ice cream, than to Parve.”

    I think one has to apply caution and assume that when eating out in a Milchig environment, even eating only parve, one must wait for fleishig and vice-versa. So if you want only a couple pickles from the deli, no milchig for you for a while.

    #1491652
    yitzchokm
    Participant

    Thinking,

    The standards are different.

    #1491779
    5ish
    Participant

    If the thread is titled “eating without a hechsher” why is the very first post about eating food WITH a hechsher???

    #1491775
    Thinking out loud
    Participant

    @yitzchokm

    You wrote “The standards are different. ” in response to my post.
    What do you mean? Who are your referring to, and what point are you making?
    How would you explain what yochy wrote as his experience:

    “I have both a national and heimish hechsher on my place. The national one comes every month- the hemish one hasn鈥檛 come in well over a year and he has no idea what is even in my products.”

    #1491791
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Most of us do not and cannot make our own food anymore. We have to leave some things to the professionals.

    I leave the kashruth issues to the agency, if the agency is good I am paying them to make sure the stuff is kosher

    If the agency cannot control things, then they need to get out of the Kashruth business, they are not doing their job. If a Plumber cannot fix the leak, he shouldnt be a plumber

    With all respect to the Rav, If there is an issue with kashruth then the agencies need to take more control and do a better job. Most people really do not know very much about Kashruth other than symbols

    #1491804
    BaltimoreMaven
    Participant

    Star K has always required a mashgiach tmidi, although many Hechseirim do not. It’s not perfect but Star K also requires that the kitchen be locked and that the Mashgiach have the only key. The more failsafes built in the better.

    #1492014
    yehudayona
    Participant

    Here’s an example of a so-called heimish hechsher being more lax than a mainstream one. Many kosher stores carry name-brand bagged salads with a yellow sticker attached indicating that according to whoever puts the sticker on, there’s no infestation problem. When the mainstream hashgacha (Star-K or OK) determines there’s an infestation, they don’t allow their symbol to be stamped on the bag (otherwise it’s inkjetted along with the use-by date and lot number). On many occasions I have seen yellow-stickered bags of salad without the mainstream hashgacha.

    #1492043
    Joseph
    Participant

    YY, how is that an example? The heimishe ones are at least as stringent. They may require not using or selling an entire lot.

    #1492093
    Jenberkow
    Participant

    @zahavasdad: I鈥檓 not sure what your kashrut credentials are but you can not make a blanket statement that the OU is the 鈥済old standard.鈥 While the OU is considered reliable on products, their hashgacha on MEAT is most certainly not widely accepted by many, and that鈥檚 why in most cases, you鈥檒l see that when a meat product has an OU, in most cases it will have an additional hashgacha. I have spoken with a very famous, ehrliche Rov in kashrut and if people would know what goes on, they鈥檇 hesitate before so easily accepting certain hashgochos.

    #1492276
    Shopping613 馃尃
    Participant

    Since we moved to Israel, our family does not eat OU.
    Our Rabbi here holds that the hechsherim here are better than OU.

    I know it’s kinda weird lol. Everyone else I know who is american eats OU except us.
    But, we listen to our rabbi…

    #1492450
    yehudayona
    Participant

    Joseph, did you read my reply carefully? The mainstream hashgacha (by its absence) effectively says the lot is infested, but the yellow-sticker hashgacha says it’s all right.

    #1492297
    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Shopping

    Unfortunatly Kashruth has become big business and there is alot of money involved. Dont kid yourself, money can and does corrupt. It has been a problem in kashruth since hechshers started appearing,

    Because the OU is the largest name in kashruth , they have the most to lose if there was a problem. Many smaller hesherim do not have that name and if a problem happens, they can just close shop and re-open (and this does happen unfortunatly)

    #1493550
    RuchieSA
    Participant

    As someone mentioned there has been this scandal here in South Africa with Stan and Pete – I personally have not bought cooked stuff since then – as I am waiting to see what will come out from these Beth Din checks.

    I have a feeling that Rabbi Kuber is actually refering to the scandal here in SA [even though I have not heard or confirmed this] as he was actually in SA a few years ago with a previous kashrut concern – he then wrote a very warm letter to the Beth Din – however someone forwarded me a letter a few months afterwords where he retracted from some of his praises. I have heard from some people that he is still involved a bit – and people ask him.

    This is the letter which he answered someone then –

    From: Mordechai Kuber [mailto:JerusalemKosher@gmail.com]
    Sent: 砖讘转 07 讚爪诪讘专 2013 22:11
    To:
    Subject: FW: Shechitah Update

    Dear

    In response to your inquiry, I have recently been in contact with a few community Rabbanim to update them about the current status of the meat and chicken in Johannesburg, in coincidence with the conclusion of my involvement with this matter after the Yomim Tovim. I understand that you were particular about your source of meat and chicken before my visit, so I realize that it is important for you to have updated information.

    Before I begin, I would like to offer an apology, perhaps overdue, regarding how my letter of seven months ago affected you and other bnei Torah. I am fully aware that before my letter, many of you refrained from eating from some butcheries, out of concern over an issue that was never publicized (to this day). With my letter, I intended only to confirm that the issue had been resolved, but not that it should be misconstrued as evidence that the bnei Torah capriciously fomented discord within the greater community, chas v鈥檚halom. Yes, my letter was quite complimentary of the Beit Din, because I was convinced of their resolve to raise the standards on an accelerated track. I was also impressed with the Yir鈥檃t Shamayim of both the Dayanim and those involved in the local meat/chicken production, and as I wrote in my letter, I was also impressed with the cleanliness of the lungs, which is a very important building block in the kashrus of beef. I felt that against such a backdrop, it was important for all in the community to close ranks, and for the Beit Din鈥檚 credibility to be firmly reestablished, even if in some measure my letter was a reflection of my faith in the Beit Din and not of accomplishments on the ground. All that said, I never imagined that my letter would be used in a negative way against the bnei Torah, as it was abundantly clear to me that they had good reason for being particular during the period in which they had been. Please accept my apology.

    Now, in response to your inquiry. As I mentioned, among other things, my letter was based upon my firm belief that many improving steps would be taken; not all of them have. It is the Beit Din鈥檚 belief that the remaining things left undone, or not yet done, or that were done differently than my recommendations, are either unnecessary, or represent merely hidurim that they are not currently able to enact. I do not share their view regarding a number of points that I feel are significant, but they certainly are entitled to their opinion. In addition, the Beit Din does not require my approval or input regarding future improvements to the system. It is my feeling that there will be further improvements, and I hope that one day all the improvements that I had hoped for will be realities. But I am not involved, and I cannot predict if and when they will come to fruition. Ultimately, it is the Beit Din that bears the responsibility for overseeing the kashrus in Johannesburg, and that is unquestionably the correct approach.

    I would also like to share that I feel that just as one should be particular to be m鈥檋ader, if possible, in the purchase of mezuzot and tephilin and arba minim, so should one be m鈥檋ader in the purchase and consumption of meat and chicken. At the moment, this means to purchase XXX shechitah, which is available from XXX’s, which is superior in its own right, and in comparison with the rest.

    Sincerely,

    Mordechai Kuber

    #1493573
    Toi
    Participant

    It’s well-known that the OU is the gold standard in physical hashgacha, but not in the level of chumra they’re makpid. That’s why, as someone above pointed out, lots of people don’t eat plain OU meat, not because they don’t trust the OU tod do what it says it will, but because the level they stick to is less than what yeshivaleit are comfortable with. Examples are cases where they paskin leniently about bishul akum, etc., meaning the hashgacha is great, but the psak, not so much. Now, before I get flack for this, I KNOW the psakim are from R Belsky, you just need to understand he was paskening for a national hechsher, not yeshivaleit. I once heard someone explain that as the reason for maintaining an OU and a chaissidish hechsher: one to know the food is kosher, and the other for the chumros.

    #1502111
    RuchieSA
    Participant

    After asking Rabbi Kuber what he thought about continuing to eat from our SA Beth Din I received the following answer:-

    From: Mordechai Kuber <jerusalemkosher@gmail.com>
    Date: Sat, Mar 24, 2018 at 11:09 PM
    Subject: RE: SA food
    To: xxx

    Dear Mrs. X

    Thank you for your question.

    The discovery of non-kosher chickens at a kosher-certified caterer is certainly a serious matter. One incident does not prove that a kosher certifier is not reliable. Much depends on how and why it happened. Can we deduce from the known incident that the kashrus system has serious flaws, or is there an explanation how it happened despite the excellence of the system? The latter is possible.

    I understand that the Beis Din has begun a thorough investigation of the incident and its causes. As part of the investigation, the Chief Rabbi has committed to import two kashrus experts from the US to review fully the Beis Din鈥檚 kashrus system. These are positive steps, for which the Chief Rabbi and the Beis Din are to be commended. I pray that the Beis Din will grant full disclosure of the results of its investigation and the review to the community at large, or at least to its Rabbanim. If these are kept internal, they will rightfully fall short of reassuring the community.

    What should you do in the meantime? At the very least, I suggest that one should not eat in or from any facility whose mashgichim do not impress as G-d-fearing and competent. There is no reason to think that somehow magically the incompetent or unqualified have become fit with the wave of a wand. Although we cannot guess what the conclusions of the investigation and review will be, my brief interlude with SA kashrus leads me to suspect that the fitness of some mashgichim for their jobs could be an issue. So if you or others are not certain about a mashgiach, by all means don鈥檛 eat there.

    The Chief Rabbi and Beis Din seem committed to bringing the kashrus up to global standards, and to make any corrections necessary. It is critical to await the results of the investigation and review, and in the meantime to proceed with caution.

    Best Regards and Chag Sameach,

    Rabbi Kuber

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