Lawsuit over Hebrew National hot dogs is revived


Apparently the low level of business activity cannot keep all our lawyers and courts busy. A federal appeals court has partially reversed the decision of a federal court to dismiss a case with prejudice against ConAgra Foods, the parent company of Hebrew National.

The case can still go forward, but only in Minnesota state courts. Federal courts will not be involved in deciding whether kosher supervisor Triangle K followed proper religious procedures.

I think it is a good thing that federal courts have decided to butt out of at least some religious matters. If you want to buy kosher products, buy them from someone you trust. Do not expect the government to enforce your particular religious views on others.


When a company says it’s selling kosher products (which is what the company exists for in the first place) and it isn’t yet is charging more for it, it certainly becomes an issue the courts should look at. Imagine a company passing off communion hosts containing improper ingredients, which would invalidate consecration. We’d sure be upset too.


The appeals court simply ruled that this was not a constitutional question, which is why the case was kicked back to the state.

The case doesn’t seem to have anything to do with religion. A common misconception in the US is that kosher beef is, by its nature, of superior quality. The lawsuit alleges that Hebrew National/CongAgra misled them into believing that to be true.


If I’m selling wild thyme only harvested under a full moon in a month that doesn’t have a “r” in it, then my product should match my advertising.

If I am “certified” to sell these products, some level of culpability rests with the certification authority, unless I totally hoodwinked the evaluators.


Hebrew National isn’t kosher?


I would be upset if that happened, but what would my damages be, and how could a court measure them?


The company is being sued for selling products that are not up to kosher standards, no?

If nothing else, the company should keep the food kosher in the future in hopes of not being continually sued. If they weren’t sued how would anyone even know about this?


I read that they were suing because they believed the meat was not prepared properly by religious standards. The people suing did not keep kosher, but just wanted to buy kosher because it seemed to be better quality. So these particular people were not necessarily religiously wronged, but even so, if the company claimed that they were kosher and weren’t, it’s not a good move.


There is a distinction between “kosher” and “glatt kosher.” To be kosher, the meat (in this instance) must come from a kosher animal and be slaughtered according to kosher regulations. Of course, it must also not come in contact with non-kosher food or dairy products by means of using the same utensils to cut and slice the meat. To be glatt kosher, in addition to all of the above, the meat must come from an animal containing adhesion-free, smooth lungs.

My father, who was in the poultry business, used to say that any meat–whether corned beef, pastrami, hot dogs, etc.–left soaking in brine for days on end renders it non-kosher. This is not a rabbinical definition of non-kosher meat but rather my father’s personal view.


This would require a court to define what is and is not kosher. It would require a civil court to make a religious ruling that they are not competent to make. It would be like asking a court to decide on the validity of a sacrament. The courts need to stay out of that all together.

Con-Agra employed a agent to certify the product is kosher, but the plaintiffs do not accept that particular agent. It would be like a Catholic asking to have a Lutheran sacrament declared invalid because they don’t accept the authority of a Lutheran bishop. The matter should not be decided by any civil court.


I was hoping you would show up on this one. Would you or your father want civil courts to decide which personal view should decide a religious issue?


The court doesn’t need to define anything as it’s already been defined for thousands of years. The company just needs to agree to use a party that Orthodox Jews would actually trust to render the food kosher or not, then case dismissed. If the Orthodox would accept it, then it’s definitely kosher. I’m not really getting your analogy; the food is either prepared kosher or it isn’t.


Judaism does not have a central authority to decide what is or is not kosher. Even different Orthodox groups disagree, and Conservative and Reform Jews disagree all the time. I know for sure that I don’t have a firm grasp of kosher laws and I don’t think you do either. What I do know is that asking a court to decide between competing religious claims is a really bad idea.


Yes… I was thinking a tribunal of several different Rabbis might have been a better idea.


Regardless of the outcome of the case, I would continue to buy Hebrew National Franks. They are the best that I have found.


I have learned a lot from this thread. Wow…“kosher vs Glatt Kosher”…I’m expanding my horizons today:)


I think Nathan’s is best. Don’t know if they are kosher but the name suggests they are. But since I am a stroke and hypertension patient I can only eat them very rarely anyway. :frowning:


I tried Nathan’s once, and they were OK, but not up to the quality of Hebrew National IMHO… I rate Hebrew National above Nathan’s.


Technically the case could be arbitrated by a Beth Din, but you’d run into the same problems. For example, what reform jews consider as acceptably kosher is not the same as what orthodox jews consider acceptably kosher.


Yes but what Orthodox Jews would consider acceptably kosher would still be koser to Reform Jews.

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