Hebrew National Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Products Not Kosher
A class action lawsuit over Hebrew National hot dogs and other meats has been filed on behalf of consumers, alleging that the manufacturer has failed to meet kosher standards, despite marketing the products as strictly 100% kosher.
The complaint (PDF) was filed last month against ConAgra Foods, Inc., and it was removed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota earlier this month.
The lawsuit was brought by eleven consumers, who are seeking class action status to represent tens of thousands of consumers who purchased Hebrew National Meats, alleging that ConAgra mislabeled the products and attempted to cover up the non-kosher practices.
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According to the complaint, ConAgra used animals to make Hebrew National products that do not meet kosher standards, often selecting unclean and unhealthy animals to be slaughtered for the meats. The suit also claims that employees at AER Services Inc., a third-party kosher certifier for ConAgra, complained of witnessing the procedures and the manufacturer did nothing to correct problems. Instead, employees were fired or threatened with transfer.
In response to the complaint, the Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra Foods has indicated that it is standing by the kosher status of their meats, claiming that the lawsuit is without merit. The company charges premium prices for Hebrew National meats, and maintains that they meet all requirements for being considered kosher.
Kosher means ‘proper’, referring to foods which are acceptable to be eaten by those of the Jewish faith who practice and observe certain dietary laws as prescribed in the Torah, the Old Testament. Only the meat of certain animals is considered kosher and the animal the meat came from must be healthy and clean, meaning it can’t have dirty hides covered in mud, sand or stones, the suit notes.
Consumers are able to identify meats that are kosher by the “Triangle K” seal placed on Hebrew National meats. This symbol represents kashruth (kosher), and is displayed on all Hebrew National advertisements.
In response, ConAgra said in a statement that there is “close rabbinical supervision” of its food processing and packaging. The company has also placed a disclaimer on its website which reads, “For more than 100 years, Hebrew National has followed strict dietary law, using only specific cuts of beef that meet the highest standards for quality, cleanliness, and safety with no by-products, artificial flavors, or artificial colors.”
The plaintiffs are seeking to prevent ConAgra from claiming the meat is kosher and are asking for the company to provide compensation for consumers who thought they were eating kosher food.
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