This week’s Forward has a response written by the head of OU Kosher, Rabbi Menachem Genack, to Marc Shapiro’s piece criticizing the OU’s move to more stringent kosher standards, specifically to glatt-only meat. Rabbi Genack, also a YU rosh yeshiva, is both disingenuous and dishonest in his response. Here’s why.
Rabbi Genack writes:
Discerning kosher consumers began to demand glatt kosher meat, which was more carefully controlled — not because they wanted glatt per se, but because they wanted to be assured that the meat was indeed kosher. Thus it was consumer demand that made glatt the dominant standard in the marketplace, not some fiat by the O.U.
But kosher meat production by its very definition means any production will produce glatt, non-glatt and non-kosher product. The production’s glatt output is only as good as its regular kosher output – both depend on the quality of supervision. If the OU’s glatt was kosher, so then was its non-glatt.
What Rabbi Genack does not tell you is the OU’s move to glatt only opened up the regular kosher market to rabbis who saw themselves as making kosher for Conservative and Reform Jews. What this meant was a wholesale lowering of existing standards and in turn a large increase in fraud. As I heard first hand twenty-plus years ago from schochtim, mashgichim and kosher producers alike, “It’s okay! Orthodox Jews don’t eat this stuff, anyway.”
The OU’s shift to glatt-only created that situation. It also made the OU appear “more frum,” and – according to what some claim – allowed the OU to charge more for its supervision, and have greater penetration in haredi areas of Brooklyn.
Marc Shapiro also noted the OU’s ahalakhic shift from certifying products produced on dairy equipment but themselves containing no dairy with an OU to the now-standard OU-D (dairy) designation. Rabbi Genack responds:
Mixing meat and dairy, Shapiro also criticizes the OU-D designation, as if to imply this is part of a further rightward move by the O.U. The OU-D designation was created so that the consumer could easily identify dairy products and not have to rely on reading, and at times interpreting, ingredient listings. Products that contain no dairy ingredients, but which are produced on dairy equipment, are also designated OU-D so as to ensure that they will not be eaten at a meat meal. There is no hidden ideology here, just honest information.
Again, Rabbi Genack is simply disingenuous. Many hashgachot used the D.E. (dairy equipment) designation. The OU could have done so as well, but chose not to. It is this choice Shapiro rightly criticizes.
Now, a Yoreh Dayah quiz for you. You make rice in a clean dairy pot, thinking you’ll serve it for dinner in a dairy Indian recipe. At last minute, you remember Aunt Millie’s meat chili, sitting in the refrigerator for the last three days. You change your mind and decide to have the chili. But you have no more rice. Can you eat the meat chili together with the rice made in the dairy pot? If yes, why? If no, why not?