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Sunday, January 04, 2004

Kosher Beef Supply Safe From Mad Cow Disease

KosherToday: The kosher beef supply in the US is safe and not in any danger of being contaminated from what is described as an isolated case of BSE (Mad Cow Disease) in the State of Washington. Both Alle Processing and Agri Processors (Rubashkin’s), leading purveyors of kosher beef, told Kosher Today that all US and imported cattle are young (18-24 months old) and in excellent condition, as opposed to the “downers” (unhealthy cows) used in the Washington case.

Alle said that it does not “slaughter or purchase any cows or bulls in the US (Beef Cattle Only).” It also noted that it does not slaughter or purchase any cow meat, that no brain material enters their plant, spinal cords are removed, and that they continue to import all natural hormone free, grass fed Uruguayan beef. The Iowan based Agri said that it too uses the Uruguayan beef and that all of its US cattle come from local sources in the Midwest.

One source told Kosher Today that an Israeli researcher Dr. Alex Leventhal had concluded that the kosher slaughter process reduced the chances of a spread of Mad Cow disease.

The STAR-K Kosher Certification agency issued a statement that pareve items do not include animal-based ingredients with the exception of gelatin “which, when appearing in a kosher certified product, may be from fish or bovine sources.” It continued: “Consumers should also be aware that many commonly used household or personal items, such as toothpaste, lipstick or over-the-counter medications contain ingredients of animal origin. Food packaging materials, even from kosher certified items, may also contain fatty acid derivatives such as anti-fogging compounds which are derived from tallow sources.”

Government and other food industry sources said that “kosher consumers, even more so than general consumers, need not worry about the beef they consume.” Retailers say that while concerned, consumers are continuing to buy kosher beef. Some were actually expecting an increase in the purchase of kosher beef by other than kosher consumers.

Meanwhile, KT’s Israel Bureau Chief Idele Ross reports that Israel's Agricultural Ministry has banned beef liver imports from the United States. Ross quotes Haaretz as reporting that Israel imports 500 tons of non-kosher beef liver to the country representing about one-tenth of the total imports of beef liver. It is the only meat imported to Israel from the United States.