Savour the spread of the KLBD logo

The Jewish Chronicle - - KOSHER - BY SI­MON ROCKER

WHEN MARM I T E w a s re­stored by the Lon­don B e t h D i n t o k o s h e r a p p r o v a l last sum­mer, it was like wel­com­ing back an old friend. Ac­cord­ing to records in the LBD’s of­fice, the savoury spread was first con­firmed as kosher a hun­dred years ago.

But the Lon­don Beth Din was forced to re­move it from kosher cir­cu­la­tion in 2000 — not be­cause of any prob­lem with the in­gre­di­ents but be­cause of pro­duc­tion meth­ods, when Bovril, which has an­i­mal ex­tracts, was man­u­fac­tured in the same plant.

While only the 70g Mar­mite jar has so far been cleared by the rab­binic au­thor­i­ties, Rabbi Jeremy Con­way, di­rec­tor of the Beth Din’s kashrut divi­sion (KLBD), says there are plans to make other sizes avail­able.

Mar­mite’s re­turn demon­strates the Beth Din’s suc­cess in at­tract­ing iconic house­hold brands. The lat­est edi­tion of its lists 8,500 items in all — prob­a­bly four times the num­ber con­tained in the first guide, which ap­peared nearly 30 years ago. “We have al­most a thou­sand new prod­ucts this year, which is un­usual,” says Rabbi Con­way.

While it may take time to per­suade an es­tab­lished man­u­fac­turer to come on board, smaller pro­duc­ers are quick to see the op­por­tu­ni­ties for ex­tend­ing the reach of a new prod­uct. Peo­ple have their eye on the global mar­ket, Rabbi Con­way says. “In terms of cer­ti­fy­ing new com­pa­nies, we are grow­ing in leaps and bounds.” If you are look­ing to ex­port to Amer­ica, for ex­am­ple,

In­quiries from the pub­lic also help the rab­bis dis­cover ar­eas of de­mand. Newly cer­ti­fied fruit or ce­real bars re­spond to a call for food on the run. A grow­ing stream of niche prod­ucts caters for the health-con­scious.

Peo­ple trav­el­ling for busi­ness or plea­sure also want to know, for ex­am­ple, what fish they can eat over­seas. One re­cent query con­cerned the “al­fon­sino”, a red-skinned va­ri­ety also known as the Tas­ma­nian snap­per.

To de­ter­mine its kashrut sta­tus re­quires a call to some­where like the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum, to find out if its scales qual­ify un­der ha­lachah and also to the Aus­tralian Beth Din, which might be more fa­mil­iar with this fish. And yes, the rul­ing was that you can have al­fon­sino and chips.

The fact that around 2,000 items now carry the KLBD’s own logo shows how far the kosher trade has grown in re­cent years. When the guide first came out, the Beth Din had only seven cafés and restau­rants un­der su­per­vi­sion; now it has 25, not count­ing more than 20 fur­ther es­tab­lish­ments li­censed by other batein din in Lon­don.

More choice means more com­pe­ti­tion — which can help keep prices un­der con­trol. In fact, Rabbi Con­way points out, some brands cost less in the UK than they do in Is­rael. When it comes to keep­ing kosher, he says, “I don’t think it’s ever been so easy and ex­cit­ing to be Jewish in Bri­tain.”


Al­fon­sino aka the Tas­ma­nian snap­per: was it scaly enough to pass muster?

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