A Minnesota court is hearing a fraud lawsuit against Hebrew National, from former employees claiming it is not in fact 100 percent kosher as labeled and advertised.
A lower court dismissed the case last January, saying the issue is a religious one and not for secular courts to decide.
The case Wallace et al v. ConAgra Foods Inc. was heard on Dec. 19 by a three judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul.
The plaintiffs, who worked for kosher slaughterer AER Services, claim that they were pressured to approve 70 percent of the meat they processed as kosher, whether it was or not. Their lawyers have argued that this quota means the court can rule on the matter, without dealing with the religious concepts of whether or not the meat was actually kosher.
The defense counters that the former employees are “disgruntled” and trying to discredit the company. They also hold up the previous dismissal as proof that it is a religious matter.
The hechsher (kosher certification) for ConAgra and Hebrew National is given by Triangle K.
The story was originally broken by The American Jewish World, a Minnesota Jewish newspaper. The reporter was threatened with a religious subpoena (hazmana) to an Orthodox rabbinical court (beit din).
Hebrew National is one of the best known kosher brands in the world. Ironically, it is not acceptable to many kosher-observant Jews. It did not have an independent hechsher until the early 2000s, and is still not certified “glatt” kosher.