HOME  DISINFORMATION  KOSHER TAX
Concerning the kosher certification of Canada Corn Starch
"Some Canada Corn Starch consumers might object to a surcharge to support religion added to their grocery bill, particularly when they are not members of that religion, and more particularly when that surcharge is applied without their awareness." Lubomyr Prytulak
April 17, 2000


C. R. Shoemate
Chairman and CEO
Bestfoods
International Plaza
700 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs, NJ USA      07632-9976


C. R. Shoemate:

I am writing in connection with the Canada Corn Starch that I purchased in Vancouver BC displaying the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations "OU" kosher-certification label on its packaging:

Canada Corn Starch, OU Canada Corn Starch, OU


Will Bestfoods offer consumers a kosher-free version of its Canada Corn Starch?

Some Canada Corn Starch consumers might object to a surcharge to support religion added to their grocery bill, particularly when they are not members of that religion, and more particularly when that surcharge is applied without their awareness.  Some consumers might particularly object to kosher certification being the occasion of that surcharge, as it calls to mind the possibility that the surcharge might ultimately be used to support causes of which the consumer disapproves, such as the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the Middle East, or the expansion of the Israeli nuclear arsenal, or the support of inhumane methods of slaughter right here in Canada.  In consideration of such consumers who possibly greatly outnumber those who observe kosher dietary restrictions will Bestfoods offer a kosher-free version of its Canada Corn Starch?  Offering kosher and non-kosher versions for sale side by side would bring two advantages:

(1) It would offer Canada Corn Starch purchasers a choice of paying the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations surcharge or avoiding it.

(2) It would permit Canada Corn Starch for the first time to measure consumer preference.  That is, if clearly marked kosher and kosher-free versions of Canada Corn Starch were sold side by side, then perhaps the effect of kosher labelling on sales could be determined for the first time.

Are you in agreement with the desirability of truth in labelling?

The meaning of the "OU" label is unknown to the vast majority of consumers.  Consumers would be better informed if the word "KOSHER" and the Magen David were added to any certification label that Canada Corn Starch might continue to use, as illustrated below:

OLD WAY:
Secrecy in Labelling
NEW WAY:
Truth in Labelling

Are you in agreement that Canada Corn Starch is under an obligation to demystify esoteric labelling in this way, or would you hold that Canada Corn Starch has a right to use its package labelling to pass secret messages to a tiny minority of its consumers?

If you feel that the presence of the word "KOSHER" and of the Magen David would lower sales, then does it not follow that the public discovering that "OU" signifies kosher certification would lower sales for the same reasons?

Is Bestfoods the victim of kosher fraud?

I first bring to your attention that the kosher certification of products that do not require kosher certification has been identified by kosher authorities as one of the several varieties of kosher fraud, and as well that the kosher certification agency that first comes to mind in connection with this variety of kosher fraud is the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations:

When a responsible Kashruth supervising agency such as the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations sells its hechsher to companies that actually do not require Kashruth supervision, it is the kind of abuse that degrades the prestige of Kashruth.  To do so is to be on a par with those who fleece the innocent by persuading them to purchase home appliances they really do not need.  And when such activities are perpetrated under the guise of religious observances, the crime is greatly compounded!
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, pp. 171-172.

Awareness of the fraud of kosher-certifying products that are exempt from kosher certification is particularly relevant to our discussion, as corn starch has been listed as one of the products that is exempt, and that is susceptible to this variety of fraud:

There is also a more delicate form of extortion associated with Kashruth.  [...]  For example, a company will enquire about Kashruth supervision for its product.  The truth of the matter is that this product would be acceptable even without supervision, as may be the case with window cleaning liquid, toothpicks, aspirin, corn starch, diaper detergents, etc.  The company is not informed that they can sell their product in the Kosher market without supervision.  Instead, the company is induced to purchase Kashruth supervision.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, pp. 170-171, blue emphasis added.

How is Canada Corn Starch made?

I expect that the corn-starch manufacturing process is an open one, explained in publications available to all, viewable in film documentaries, and accessible to inspection, as for example in public tours of Canada Corn Starch plants.  I wonder if Canada Corn Starch will offer the same transparency with respect to the kosher-certification component of its manufacturing process?

Specifically, how has Canada Corn Starch production been modified so as to comply with Jewish religious laws?  How frequent is rabbinical inspection of Canada Corn Starch plants, and of what does this inspection consist, and is the nature of this inspection available for viewing on videotape?  What are the scientific or engineering qualifications of the rabbinical inspectors?  Will anyone step forward to defend the proposition that as a result of rabbinical supervision, Canada Corn Starch has become purer or more hygienic or more nutritious?  Is there anyone who will claim that Canada Corn Starch is in any detectable way different following kosher certification from what it was before?

How much does Canada Corn Starch pay the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations?

Could you inform Canadian consumers how much Canada Corn Starch currently pays the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations for the use of the "OU" label, and how much it has paid over its entire period of kosher certification?

More information is available

For a more detailed discussion of the kosher-certification business, in which additional reasons are proposed for avoiding kosher certification, and in which Canada Corn Starch is mentioned in several documents, please consult the Ukrainian Archive at:

http://www.ukar.org/tax.html



Lubomyr Prytulak


HOME  DISINFORMATION  KOSHER TAX