2004-07-30 / Community

Pheffer Strengthens Kosher Food Regs

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer has announced the passage of legislation that will strengthen consumer protections against false or misleading representations of foods sold or offered for sale as “kosher.”

A task force was convened in February 2003 to study the important issue after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a New York Court of Appeals decision declaring the state’s 1915 law regulating the labeling of kosher foods unconstitutional.

The task force formulated the legislation (A.9041-A/S.5757-A) last year to protect consumers who rely on kosher labeling for religious or dietary reasons. The Assembly first passed the measure in June 2003, and again in January 2004.

“As chair of the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee I am keenly aware of the need for this important legislation,’ said Pheffer. “This legislation will provide relief to those who depend on the accurate labeling of kosher products.”

Under the bill, any food establishment or caterer that offers food prepared on premises must complete and post a “Kosher Certification Form” that notes the name, training, education and affiliation of the individual or organization certifying the food as kosher.

The form will require establishments that serve or sell non-kosher food to disclose information such as whether or not they use separate ovens, sinks, utensils and refrigerators for their kosher food storage, preparation and service.

Also included in the bill is a provision requiring advertisements that represent a product as kosher to provide the name of the certifier. In addition, all certifiers of meat and poultry in New York State will have to register with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, which will provide access to its certifier registry on its website ( www.agmkt.state.ny.us) .

“I am elated that the Legislature has come together and passed this important consumer protection bill.” said Pheffer. “Those purchasing kosher food have the right to know what they are receiving and have information easily available disclosing the qualifications for those who sell and certify food as kosher.”

The law will take effect immediately, and will provide manufacturers and sellers with 180 days to conform.

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