Friday, May 04, 2007

The Misdirection of Glatt

Unfortunately, today, even the actual term "Glatt" is misleading. When I lived in Israel as a kid, my father used to pick up the salads for kiddush in our shul. Someone came up to him and asked them if they were glatt kosher. My father, not sure what else to say, replied, "sure, they check the lungs on the eggplants."

Way too many people, people who are otherwise perfectly frum, have no idea what glatt actually means, and the industry has used that ignorance in its marketing.

Now, I'm not looking to start a new movement for kulas. I'm trying to put things back the way they were. Economically, it'd be better for everyone.

According to Rabbi Harry Maryles:

"The Shechita business has always been plagued with standards issues. Some meat packing houses being concerned more with profits that the standards of Kashrus... have employed questionable Shochtim who are barely Shomer Shabbos. They were usually imported Israelis ...single men whose public religious behavior left a lot to be desired. These are not the kind of people you want responsible for Kosher slaughtering. They were trained in the mechanics of how to Shecht but they were not Yerei Shamayim.

There was also the issue of mass production. The demand for Kosher meat outweighed the level of Kosher meat produced. This resulted in some questionable Psak about which lungs (the organ that is checked to see if it has any adhesions that would make it treif) looked Kosher.

I had a friend who ran the union for such Shochtim and he was plagued with problems of actual Kashrus. Glatt, he told me was not even an issue anymore. All meat was glatt. Anything which required removal of a blemsih in a kosher way thus making it Kosher but not Glatt was not deemed worthy of the time it takes to do it and was just thrown into the Treif pile which was automatically sold to the non Kosher market.

So it isn't really about Glatt. It is about whether the Kosher label is trustworthy at all.

When a beef product is labled Glatt, that usually means it was carefully prepared along the entirety of the Kosher process, which includes ehrliche Shochtim, no compromises on Psak about adhesions, proper Koshering and all other details.

But even Glatt labels these days are not always trustworthy. Anyone can label his product Glatt. That's why one should only use products certified by a reputable Hechsher organization like the OU."

Ok, good. These were problems in the past, but since then things in the kosher slaughtering business have changed. The companies are a lot more organized, their techniques and practices have much improved in the last twenty-thirty years, and things are run differently now than they were back then. There is also the question of the kosher slaughterhouses creating a deliberate shortage to raise the prices (this from a reliable source who is intimately connected with the kosher meat business). It's assur to charge inflated prices for things. I believe this is included in the lav of accurate weights and measures and charging correct prices.

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