A contractor who slaughters for Hebrew National – a ConAgra brand – in the midwest allegedly engages in tax fraud, money laundering and worker abuse. And to top it all off, AER is allegedly cutting kashrut corners, as well. Class action lawsuit filed.
Here's the lowdown, based on the story just posted by the American Jewish World:
• a schochet claims he was paid part of his salary in the US and the rest was paid to relatives in Israel by an Israeli AER rabbi (presumably in cash).
• schochtim and mashgichim were sometimes forced to sleep four to a room in shoddy apartments on mattresses placed on the floor.
• schochtim and mashgichim claim they have repeatedly complained about kashrut problems to Hebrew National's kosher supervisor, Triangle-K (headed by Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, who lives in Brooklyn but who is outgoing chief rabbi of Holland). But, they claim, Triangle-K ignored them.
• “[Ralbag and AER] did little or nothing to correct the transgressions. Rather, the persons making the complaints were terminated or otherwise threatened with adverse retaliation, such as job transfers to other facilities or states. In turn, non-kosher meat was delivered to ConAgra and packaged, labeled and sold to the public [including the plaintiffs in the lawsuit] as strictly 100% kosher,” a class action lawsuit filed in May against ConAgra doing business as Hebrew National reads. The suit says that ConAgra "is not living up to its self-proclaimed standard of kosher 'as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish Law.'”
If any of this is true it means a return to the bad old days of 1980s and 90s non-glatt (and some glatt) shechita that was riddled with problems just like this.