RELEASE: Sen. Stavisky blasts Governor’s decision
to lay off kosher food inspectors at year’s end
Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky blasted Gov. David Paterson’s decision to lay off the last remaining kosher food inspectors in order to close a projected $10 billion state budget deficit. Sen. Stavisky laments these layoffs will adversely affect the state’s ability to ensure the integrity of kosher products and protect New Yorkers who follow kosher traditions by guaranteeing their purchases meet kosher law requirements.
New York State is the world’s largest manufacturer and consumer of kosher foods outside of Israel and offers some 82,000 kosher-certified products on supermarket shelves, according to a 2004 publication from the Agriculture Dept.
“Unfortunately, these cuts would undoubtedly mean that untrained Agriculture and Markets inspectors would monitor kosher food, resulting in little or no protection from fraudulent products,” said Sen. Stavisky.
“I spoke with an inspector this week,” Sen. Stavisky noted. “He described how he found shrimp salad in the kosher section of a supermarket. Who is going to make sure that hot dogs containing pork products don’t wind up next to the Hebrew National ones?”
At one time there were 11 inspectors in the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Kosher Enforcement, which was reduced through attrition to eight active inspectors this year. As of Jan. 1, 2011, there will be none. Those eight inspectors carried out approximately 5,000 inspections statewide in 2010 examining some 3,000 establishments and manufacturers.
“Eliminating the kosher food unit would save approximately $800,000. Are we really to believe that this is going to help close a budget deficit of almost $10 billion?” Sen. Stavisky asked.
New York State’s law mandating inspections of establishments marketing themselves as kosher dates back to 1915, but was struck down in 2000 after a challenge from a non-Orthodox butcher on Long Island, according to The Jewish Week.