On March 8th, 2008, the Anchorage Daily News reported that R&J Seafoods, based in Kasilof, Alaska, recently completed kosher certification of the product processing for its Kenai Select seafood products. Kosher foods must meet the dietary requirements of Jewish law.
However, Kosher certification focuses not only on the source of the ingredients within the food product, but also on the status of the production equipment. "Our customers are now more discerning than ever about where they source their food, what's in it, how it is processed and by whom," said Nate Berga, general manager for R&J Seafoods. The company was started by Randy and Juanita Meier in 1979.
More background is available from Business Week. In July 2007, Rabbi Hershel Krinsky came up from New York City to check out R&J Seafoods processing plant in Kasilof to see if it could be certified kosher. In August, the family business got the OK from OK Kosher, also from New York, said Nate Berga, general manager for R&J Seafoods.
Berga said R&J Seafoods got interested when a wholesaler on the Peninsula mentioned he had kosher customers. Then members of the family went to Kosherfest in New York City in November, and the rest is history.
Like most places, Berga said the people at the show were interested in wild Alaska seafood, and the kosher label was frosting on the fish. "There's a great demand," Berga said of the certified halibut and salmon. The smoked products are not yet certified, but that may change with further certification, he said.
So what type of seafood is "kosher"? Wikipedia tells us that in Leviticus 11:9, two criteria are given for fish also: whatever has "fins and scales" (there are several words for scales in Hebrew, and this only refers to permanent scales) may be eaten. Seafood without fins and scales is described as "an abomination".
For a fish to be kosher, the fins must be translucent and the scales easily detachable; i.e., removable without ripping the skin. In practice, kosher fish must have either ctenoid or cycloid scales. Shark, catfish, octopus, squid, jellyfish, and eel are not kosher. All forms of shellfish (clams, oysters, crab, lobster, and shrimp) are not kosher. Sea mammals, such as dolphins, whales, and seals are not kosher.
The Askmoses.com website provides additional amplification.
Kosher today means that a Kosher certification company has inspected the production process from start to finish. They check every vat, oven, conveyor belt, container and piece of packaging machinery to really make sure that nothing non-kosher gets in your food.
Any product, substance, solid, liquid, derivative, stuff, powder, goo or whatever that comes from an animal that’s not kosher, is not kosher either. Also, it’s not kosher if the animal wasn’t slaughtered in the “kosher” manner. Thus, if any of those are in the ingredients of another product, that product’s not kosher. That’s why…
Kosher today means that a Kosher certification company, such as Organized Kashrut Laboratories (“the OK”), has inspected the production process from start to finish. They check every vat, oven, conveyor belt, container and piece of packaging machinery to really make sure that nothing non-kosher gets in your food.
The Daily News did not report which company certified the Kenai plant.
So this means that in exchange for getting that "kosher" certification, R & J Seafoods must not only give up processing non-kosher seafood (in order to avoid "contaminating" the production line with any non-kosher products), but it looks like they must accept restrictions on products used to keep the production line clean. Unless, of course, they maintain more than one production line, which would add to their production expenses.
Yes, your eyes did not deceive you. I did mention "cleaning substances". That's right - if the plant uses a "non-kosher" detergent to clean any part of the production line, the entire operation instantly becomes non-kosher. Jerry Abbott gives us a short list of products certified "kosher"; you'll be surprised at the diversity of products. They include:
Arm & Hammer baking soda
Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil
Dawn Ultra dishwashing detergent
Comet disinfectant with bleach
Ajax laundry detergent
Mr. Clean cleaner with ammonia
Lysol all-purpose cleaner
Chinet paper compartment plates
Hefty styrofoam plates
These products are ruled "kosher" only because of their origin, not because they are specifically permitted by name.
And it's at this point that the kosher "lifestyle" becomes transformed into a full-blown scam. To add a bunch of derived products to the kosher list simply creates additional income opportunities for various rabbis and adds nothing of substance to the practice of Judaism nor to public safety. Does it really matter if a kosher-style salmon was prepared in a baking dish washed with a non-kosher detergent? Of course not; this is the type of idolatry rigorously condemned by Jesus Christ during his ministry. This is why Jesus condemned the Pharisees and Sadducees as "hypocrites and vipers, of their father the devil". They assumed a form of godliness, but denied the power thereof. They exalted ceremony above spirituality; they professed the Holy Spirit without possessing the Holy Spirit. And, as such, they transformed Judaism from a dynamic religion into a nanny cult hamstrung by endless rules and regulations. Contrast this to the Latter-day Saints' Word of Wisdom, which is much simpler and merely discourages the uses of substances clearly deleterious to one's health.
And you'll be amazed at how much income Jewish rabbinical groups derived from bestowing their official rabbinical blessing upon our food. On September 6th, 2007, Dr. David Duke posted a YouTube video on his site that provides an overview of this form of income transfer:
Astounding. In 2001, $165 billion in food products had the kosher tax applied to them. The Orthodox Union, which authorizes the "U" symbol instead of the "K" symbol, raked in $20 million per year in certification fees alone. And there were an estimated 275 groups in the United States (400 worldwide) in the kosher certification business. Hardly the "anecdotal" effect claimed by the Anti-Defamation League.
A "lifestyle" or a scam? You decide, but I believe the evidence clearly leans towards the latter.