Hebrew National case sent to lower court

A lawsuit alleging that Hebrew National foods are not strictly kosher was returned by a federal appeals court to the Minnesota state court that first heard the case.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found on April 4 that the lawsuit filed by 11 kosher consumers should not have been heard in federal court and sent it back to a state court in Dakota County, Minn., Reuters reported.

The lawsuit against ConAgra, the packaged food conglomerate that owns the Hebrew National brand, was filed originally in May 2012 and accused the company of consumer fraud for claiming products sold under the label were kosher.

Hebrew National carries the symbol of the Triangle K kosher certifier, an agency that is considered insufficiently reliable in certain Orthodox circles.

The complaint alleged that Triangle K and AER, which does the slaughtering, did not abide by “objective” standards of kosher slaughter. In particular, they claim the company did not inspect, clean or segregate the meat in a manner “required to be considered kosher.”

In February 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank ruled that because kosher is a religious standard, it is a subject for rabbinic debate, not a federal court ruling. The appeals court said Frank dismissed the case “with prejudice,” and because of that it should be heard again in the original state court. — jta