Lawsuit claiming Hebrew National foods aren’t 100% kosher dismissed


A lawsuit alleging that Hebrew National foods are not strictly kosher has been dismissed.

A U.S. District Court judge in Minnesota ruled Wednesday that because kosher is a religious standard, it is a subject for rabbinic debate — not a federal court ruling.

“The definition of the word 'kosher' is intrinsically religious in nature, and this court may not entertain a lawsuit that will require it to evaluate the veracity of Defendant’s representations that its Hebrew National products meet any such religious standard,” Judge Donovan Frank wrote. “Because all of Plaintiffs’ claims derive from Defendant’s alleged misrepresentation that its Hebrew National products are '100% kosher,' all counts of the Amended Complaint are barred by the First Amendment. “

The suit against ConAgra, the massive packaged food conglomerate that owns the Hebrew National brand, was originally filed in May by eleven customers who accused the company of consumer fraud for claiming products sold under the label were kosher.

Hebrew National carries the symbol of the Triangle K kosher certifier, an agency that is considered insufficiently reliable in certain Orthodox circles. The complaint alleged that Triangle K and AER, which does the slaughtering, did not abide by “objective” standards of kosher slaughter. In particular, they claim the company did inspect, clean, or segregate the meat in a manner “required to be considered kosher.”

“It is Triangle K and its Orthodox rabbis who make such determinations,” said Frank. “Naturally, therefore, this court cannot determine whether defendant's Hebrew National products are in fact kosher without delving into questions of religious doctrine.”

Hearing on motion to dismiss set in Hebrew National class-action suit


A hearing on a motion to dismiss a consumer fraud case against the company that produces Hebrew National products has been scheduled for Nov. 30 in a federal court.

The hearing will be held at the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

ConAgra Foods Inc., which owns the Hebrew National brand, on July 26 filed the motion to dismiss a class-action suit that alleges that Hebrew National’s iconic hot dogs and other meats do not comport with the brand’s claim to be kosher “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law.” The ConAgra motion states that the case should be dismissed because, among other reasons, kosher is “exclusively a matter of Jewish religious doctrine.” It also states that under the First Amendment, “federal courts may not adjudicate disputes that turn on religious teachings, doctrine and practice.”

The suit, which was filed May 18 in a Minnesota state court, accuses ConAgra of consumer fraud. ConAgra has rejected the claims.

Triangle-K, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based supervising agency that certifies Hebrew National products as kosher, and AER, which provides the kosher slaughtering services at Hebrew National facilities in the Midwest, including in Minnesota, also rejected the allegations. Neither is named in the suit.

The suit is seeking monetary damages equal to the total amount of monies that consumers in the class paid for Hebrew National meat products.

Zimmerman Reed, an Arizona-based law firm with offices in Minnesota, solicited consumers through its website. The firm advertised a free case review for anyone who purchased Hebrew National hot dogs in the past two years or had information about the preparation of the products.

Lawsuit accuses Hebrew National of unkosher practices


A lawsuit filed against Hebrew National alleged that its hot dogs and other products are not actually kosher.

The class-action suit, filed in May in a federal court in Minnesota, accuses ConAgra Foods — the business designation of Hebrew National that is certified kosher by Triangle K — of several transactions that would render the meat being processed as not kosher.

The suit also accuses the company of mistreating its employees, especially its kosher supervisors and slaughterers. The firm AER provides the kosher slaughtering services at Hebrew National facilities in the Midwest.

Employees who complained about the inappropriate actions were fired or transferred, the suit claims.

Among the complaints is that non-kosher meat was packaged and labeled as kosher meat. The complaints also said that the lungs were not inspected well enough for imperfections and that some cows were slaughtered incorrectly.

The suit also alleges that the employees were paid in violation of American tax laws.

Shlomoh Ben-David, the owner of AER Services Inc., denied the charges in an interview with The Failed Messiah website.

The story was first reported last week by the American Jewish World.