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Concerning the kosher certification of Javex Bleach
"Some Javex Bleach consumers might object to a surcharge to support religion added to their supermarket bill 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


Reuben Mark, Chairman & CEO
Colgate-Palmolive
300 Pak Avenue
New York, NY
USA      10022


Reuben Mark:

I am writing in connection with the Javex Bleach that I purchased in Vancouver BC displaying the Council of Orthodox Rabbis kosher-certification COR 70 logo on its packaging:

Javex Bleach for Unbleachables, COR 70 Javex Bleach for Unbleachables, COR 70


Will Colgate-Palmolive offer consumers a kosher-free version of Javex Bleach?
Some Javex Bleach consumers might object to a surcharge to support religion added to their supermarket 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 inhumane methods of slaughter right here in North America.  In consideration of such consumers who possibly greatly outnumber those who observe kosher dietary restrictions will Colgate-Palmolive offer a kosher-free version of its Javex Bleach?  Offering kosher and non-kosher versions for sale side by side will bring two advantages:

(1) It will offer Javex Bleach purchasers a choice of paying the Council of Orthodox Rabbis surcharge or avoiding it.

(2) It will permit Colgate-Palmolive for the first time to measure consumer preference.  That is, if clearly marked kosher and kosher-free versions of Javex Bleach 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 Council of Orthodox Rabbis COR 70 logo 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 Javex Bleach might continue to use, as illustrated below:

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

Are you in agreement that Colgate-Palmolive is under an obligation to demystify esoteric labelling in this way, or would you hold that Colgate-Palmolive 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 the COR acronym stands Council of Orthodox Rabbis, and that the COR 70 logo signifies kosher certification, would lower sales for the same reasons?

Is Colgate-Palmolive 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 as one of the leading varieties of kosher fraud:

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.

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.

Awareness of the fraud of selling kosher certification of products that are exempt from kosher certification is particularly relevant to our discussion, as the kosher literature includes bleach among the products that are obviously exempt, and that may be susceptible to this variety of fraud:

After all [...] we don't look for Kosher diaper deodorants, or Kosher bleaches [...].  And tell me, isn't it ridiculous [...] for a group of people who want to promote Kashruth to certify salt and pepper and vinegar [...]?
Allen G. Feld, writing in the Jewish Spectator, in Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 171, blue emphasis added.

In view of the above, there can be little doubt that Colgate-Palmolive could find reputable authorities who would confirm that kosher certification of Javex Bleach is needless, and that the motives of those selling such certification are not religious, but mercenary.

How is Javex Bleach manufactured?

I expect that the Javex Bleach 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 Javex Bleach plants.  I wonder if Colgate-Palmolive will offer the same transparency with respect to the kosher-certification component of its manufacturing process?

Specifically, how has Javex Bleach production been modified so as to comply with Jewish religious laws?  How frequent is rabbinical inspection of Javex Bleach 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, Javex Bleach has become purer or more hygienic or more effective?  Is there anyone who will claim that Javex Bleach is in any detectable way different following kosher certification from what it was before?

How much does Colgate-Palmolive pay the Council of Orthodox Rabbis?

Could you inform consumers how much Colgate-Palmolive currently pays the Council of Orthodox Rabbis for the use of its logo on Javex Bleach, 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 Javex Bleach is mentioned in several documents, please consult the Ukrainian Archive at:

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



Lubomyr Prytulak


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