NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) — There is one budget cut out of Albany critics say isn’t kosher, quite literally.
State food inspectors who make sure kosher foods really are kosher have just been drastically cut, reports CBS 2’s John Slattery.
In Orthodox Jewish enclaves like Borough Park, shoppers who buy kosher trust that it really is.
“I don’t buy in a place unless I trust the guy who certifies the kosher,” resident Yakov Schamish said.
Food products are marked with insignias like an “O-U” or “O-K” to certify religious dietary standards, and New York’ s Department of Agriculture and Markets had a team of inspectors, but not now.
As of Jan. 1, the state of New York has eliminated its kosher inspectors, all nine of them.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind said he’s troubled that there is now only a divisional director.
“When someone says the food is kosher, the establishment is kosher; the pizza place across the street is kosher. Who’s making sure that it’s happening?” said Hikind, D-Brooklyn.
Hikind said the concern is not so much on packaged foods that include national brands. It more concerns restaurants and pizza parlors. One place Slattery visited has been in business for 40 years and the owner said he welcomes the ritual of kosher inspectors because it eliminates fraud.
“Anybody can put a sign Kosher and not be Kosher, and it’s not gonna be, not so good,” shop owner Amnon Levy said.
Critics said the problem is that eliminating inspectors puts the merchants on the honor system, and history shows that not everyone is honorable.
On Monday afternoon the Department of Agriculture and Markets announced that all 85 of the state’s food safety inspectors will be trained in checking kosher products against the state’s kosher registry.