January 29, 2008

China Pursues Kosher Market

by Rohan Parker

In a response to the recent U.S. debacle concerning contaminated foodstuffs, China has turned to Jewish rabbis in an effort to lend credibility to their claims of renewed quality control.

”When we certify a product, consumers know there is another pair of eyes” on it, said Mordechai Grunberg, one American rabbi tasked with the examination of Chinese factories, the scanning of company books, and even with making surprise visits to ensure kosher dietary laws are being observed.

Before this latest wave of concern in the United States, China had already begun seeking kosher certifications – having more than doubled the number of certified plants to over 300 in the past few years. But with recent media attention highlighting poor quality control in Chinese plants, exporters are eager to gain access to the $11.5 billion U.S. kosher market.

The Orthodox Union, a New York-based organization that takes part in plant inspections, expects China to seek thousands more such certifications over the next few years, as everything from sliced garlic and beef, to frozen berries and spices comes under new and close scrutiny from Jewish inspection crews.

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