Kashrus Alert: Badatz Yoreh Deah Chickens

28 Adar II 5771
April 3, 2011

yoreh-deah-symbolAs Pesach approaches, the unscrupulous among us have begun selling products under false pretenses, more so than during the year, at times compromising our kashrus standard, albeit unknowingly.

To our dismay, this occurs year round, but before a yomtov, the situation worsens, compelling us to raise our level of vigilance as consumers. This is seen regarding matzo and other products prior to Pesach; and olive oil before Chanukah and the 4 minim before Sukkos, to cite a few examples.

It is incumbent upon to us to familiarize ourselves with the realities of today’s marketplace and it simply is not sufficient to say “I tried my best”. Doing one’s best is fine after one has learned the rules of play, the realities of the marketplace, and perhaps most importantly, after investigating and becoming familiar with the policies of the hechsherim we use, regarding tags, labels, holograms and other assurances used by the hechsher one wishes to use. Too often people tell me I purchased an item and don’t worry, “it’s badatz”, whatever that means. When asked “What badatz” it quickly becomes evident that they are clueless, and they just saw a small and at times unfamiliar logo that displayed the word “badatz” somewhere.

As we recently completed the weekly portion pertaining to permitted and prohibited animals we learn of this unscrupulous individual, apparently more concerned with a profit than following Halacha. In an interview with Kol Chai Radio before Shabbos, Rabbi Shlomo Machpud Shlita, who heads the Badatz Yoreh Deah hechsher, explained that chickens sold of late in Bnei Brak, Elad, Kiryat Herzog and others areas under his name simply were not chickens from his shechitah. Kol Chai adds the chickens were also sold to persons in Elad, and a number of yeshivos. It appears a  store called El-Daniel, located at 7 Nuriel Street in Kiryat Herzog advertises chickens under the supervision of Badatz Yoreh Deah (Rav Machpud) and Badatz Beit Yosef. The store does not have a hechsher according to reports, and the chickens sold to unsuspecting customers may not have even been kosher. (I hope to contact Badatz Beit Yosef for comment today, but I do not wish to delay publicizing this article due to the seriousness of the issue at hand).

In the radio interview Rabbi Machpud explains that he checked chickens purchased by people who believed they were buying his badatz mehadrin poultry, and he can say without a doubt that these chickens are not from his shechitah. He made this determination because of his familiarity with his shechitah, and certain cuts that were not made in line with chickens under his shechitah. He added that he cannot say if they are kosher or not, but added there is no chazaka here to indicate they are kosher, since the store has no valid hechsher whatsoever.

When asked what the halachic ramifications are, the rabbi urges anyone who purchased from this store, in the store or by phone, to contact his rav and ask, but from his perspective, one is compelled to kasher one’s dishes. The rabbi explained that any store with a valid teudat hechsher does maintain a chazaka of being kosher, but in this case, the rule does not apply and there is indeed a fear that the chickens are not kosher. The rabbi stressed that if the store had a hechsher from any local rabbinate one would not be compelled to kasher one’s dishes, but in this case, there is nothing for us to lean upon and there are indeed fears that the chickens were not kosher birds.

What led to the inquiry is the fact that the chickens were selling for NIS 14 a kilogram, a far cry from the average price of NIS 22 a kilogram. As I mentioned numerous times in my reports, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Tzfat often explains during his kashrus lectures that “if it appears too good to be true, that’s usually because it is”. Rabbi Machpud explained that one cannot sell his chickens at this reduced price without taking a loss; hence there is no reason to believe they are legitimate. This is in addition to the physical signs, the cuts that exist and those that are missing.

Please, don’t become a victim. Remember, this particular badatz, Yoreh Deah, insists on tags and holograms. You must familiarize yourself with the labels and tags and not just grab the first discounted item you find. In addition, buying in reputable stores usually provides another measure of insurance that poultry products are genuine since supermarkets usually deal with reputable distributors.

Actually, in this case, the fraudulent merchant went as far as to make an incision along the drumstick, to resemble an inspection of the tzomet hagiddin, one of the inspections that are conducted by badatz hechsherim.

In short, the first step should be is to validate a store’s hechsher. One should not place a phone order with a merchant with whom one is unfamiliar. A neighbor who got a great deal or the like simply does not legitimize a store and if one is incapable of ascertaining the legitimacy of a store, one should consult with a competent rav to make the determination for the community before ordering, not after! Fear of losing out on a great deal should not compel one to act irresponsibly.

Anyone wishing to hear the Hebrew 16 minute interview with Rabbi Machpud may use this link to access it on the Kikar Shabbat website. Click here to listen to the interview.

2 Comments

  • Ben Waxman
    April 3, 2011 - 08:20 | Permalink

    kol hakovad to the Badatz Yoreh Deah for coming out with this and telling everyone. They are taking a chance that people will “throw the baby out with the bath water” and just not buy products with their heksher.

    The truth of the matter is that there is no heksher (AFAIK) without problems. that doesn’t mean that one has to become a vegan who eats imported beans only. That there are fraudulents merchants does not in any way impinge on BYD’s credibility.

  • Mike
    April 3, 2011 - 08:31 | Permalink

    As someone who has spoken extensively to many hechsherim, would you be willing to create a nice chart summarizing some “highlights” of each certification’s procedure. For example: hologram yes/no/sometimes, chickens whole / split, etc?

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