JTA reports that Hebrew National, makers of hot dogs that generally win consumer contests for best tasting frankfurters, but are eschewed by many Orthodox Jews who don't trust their triangle K kosher certification, has been running short videos on its home page that show its hot dogs on skewers with cheese and shaved bacon.
As Uriel Heilman writes in the JTA article,
Dan Skinner, a public relations manager for Hebrew National, told JTA he doesn’t see any problem with the videos, which were produced in partnership with Tasting Table, which produces content for food companies and runs a culinary website.The article cites a survey that shows that only 14 percent of consumers polled in that survey said they seek out kosher for religious reasons.
“Our hot dogs follow very strict kosher standards in terms of the preparation of the hot dogs themselves, and keeping that kosher process is very important to us,” Skinner said. “But our consumers eat the hot dogs for a number of reasons. Some stick to our hot dogs for kosher reasons, and some eat our hot dogs for reasons of taste and preference. For those consumers we have presented recipe options that are not necessarily kosher recipes in the strictest sense.
Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the kosher division of the Orthodox Union, told JTA that in general there is no inherent problem with companies advertising the use of their kosher products in non-kosher recipes — but there are some exceptions.
“It depends on the context,” Genack said. “A kosher product that’s sold to the general population, if it’s not confusing in any way, that would be OK. If it’s a company that’s selling kosher meat and there’s a real potential for confusion, that would be a problem.”Granting of O.U. certification is not dependent only on the food, Genack said.
The O.U., the largest kosher certifier in the country, does not offer certification to restaurants or caterers that violate the Jewish Sabbath, and it would not certify an establishment whose ambiance does not comport with Orthodox values, such as a strip club, even if the food were strictly kosher. He also noted that the O.U.’s contract with food companies includes a clause that places limits on advertising that might damage the O.U. brand.
“Kosher supervision does not only relate to the kosher food; it’s also the ambiance,” Genack told JTA. “A lot of these things are judgment calls.”But judgments can be subjective. It didn't take long for us to find a couple of products certified by the O.U. that could give the wrong impression that ham and pork are kosher because Mrs. Schlorer's Ham Glaze and Sauer's Pork Rub are shown with the OU on their labels and described as exclusively seasoning those treif meats.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)