Business

Suit says Hebrew National isn't kosher; ConAgra says without merit

Religion and BeliefConAgra Foods IncorporatedEconomy, Business and Finance

ConAgra Foods Inc., the company that makes Hebrew National hot dogs and other meats, said a lawsuit questioning the product’s kosher status is “without merit.”

The complaint, filed in federal court in Minnesota, claims that Hebrew National charges high prices for a designation that it doesn’t deserve.

The suit, filed by 11 consumers and seeking class action status, accuses ConAgra of using dirty animals for its meats. Kosher standards demand healthy and clean livestock.

Employees of a meat processing company used by ConAgra complained that the beef preparation methods being used weren’t up to par, according to the complaint. But those workers were either ignored, retaliated against or fired, according to the suit.

ConAgra, in a statement, pledged to “stand behind our kosher status.” The Hebrew National product line, the company said, “is certified by a well-recognized and authorized third-party. There is close rabbinical supervision of the food preparation process and packaging equipment.”

Hebrew National products are marked with the Triangle K symbol, which signifies kosher qualifications “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish Law,” according to ConAgra.

The brand “has followed strict dietary law” for more than a century, “using only specific cuts of beef that meet the highest standards for quality, cleanliness, and safety with no by-products, artificial flavors, or artificial colors,” according to ConAgra.

In fiscal 2012, annual revenue from Hebrew National products exceeded $5 million in the U.S., according to the complaint.

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