Federal And State Regulations

Making a claim of kosher on a product is a "legal" claim. Federal regulation 21CFR101.29 has a paragraph indicating that such a claim must be appropriate. Approximately 20 states and a number of counties and cities have laws specifically regulating the claim of "kosher." Many of these laws refer to "Orthodox Hebrew Practice" or some variant of this term, and their legality in the 1990s is subject to further court interpretation.

New York State probably has the most extensive set of kosher laws, including a requirement to register kosher products with the Kosher Enforcement Bureau of the Department of Agriculture and Markets (55 Hanson PL, Brooklyn, NY 11217). However, the laws in New Jersey— having been written after the state's original laws were declared unconstitutional by the state supreme court— probably have the clearest focus and, to date, no Constitutional issue. The regulations focus specifically on "consumer right to know" and "truth in labeling" issues. They avoid having the state of New Jersey define kosher. Rather, the rabbis providing supervision declare the information— adhered to by the food manufacturers—that consumers need to make an informed decision.

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