Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cholov Yisroel hard cheese now being made in Canada

MONTREAL - Canadian-made cholov Yisroel hard cheese will soon be appearing in kosher food stores across the country for the first time in recent history.

This type of cheese, which is made under the most rigorous kashrut supervision, has been available here for many years only in the form of imports, mainly from the United States and Israel.

The Montreal-headquartered Eldorado Dairy Company Ltd. has received rare permission from the Canadian Dairy Commission for an annual quota of milk to produce a wide variety of ripened cheeses at its plant near Belleville, Ont. The company is under the supervision of Montreal’s Vaad Ha’ir and the cheese will bear the MK hechsher.

The Canadian dairy industry is tightly regulated and, in Ontario, it’s virtually impossible for a new cheese company to obtain a milk quota, unless it can show it will fill a niche not met by any other Canadian business. (The amount of milk produced in the province is set by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario.)

Eldorado, whose president is Michael Rosenberg, was accepted under the Dairy Commission’s Domestic Dairy Products Innovation Program, designed to encourage Canadian production and reduce reliance on imports.

With the start of domestic production, imported cholov Yisroel hard cheese will likely begin disappearing in Canada.

Laval Letourneau, chair of the program’s selection committee, said Eldorado asked for and was granted three to five million litres of milk per year, which will enable it to produce 300 to 500 tons of cheese. This amount could be increased in time if the demand is there, said Letourneau, who is also chief of commercial operations for the commission, a Crown corporation that co-ordinates federal and provincial dairy policies.

The first Eldorado products, under the brand name Golden Cheese, are expected to be on the market by the end of March. Another one or two labels are to be announced in the coming months, Rosenberg said, possibly one for the Muslim halal market.

Rosenberg bought and updated the Eldorado Cheese Factory, in the hamlet of Eldorado in Madoc Township. The formerly non-kosher plant, founded in 1951, has been closed for eight years.

Rosenberg has retained one of its award-winning cheesemakers, who has almost 20 years of experience in cheese-making and running two plants. Rosenberg himself is a newcomer to the food industry. He has worked in the distribution of electronic goods in recent years. He will be co-ordinating the company’s day-to-day business administration and sales from Montreal.

Rosenberg said the plant has the capacity to process just over five million litres of milk annually, and to produce approximately 530,000 kilograms of hard cheese. “We have the ability to scale this up to 10 million litres as the company grows,” he said.

He estimates that his potential market is 800,000 kilograms per year, assuming that 25 per cent of Canada’s approximately 400,000 Jews keep kosher.

“The average Canadian eats 12 kilograms of cheese a year. I would think Jews eat somewhat less because of not mixing meat and dairy, so I put it at 8 kilograms a year.”

Among the products Eldorado will be making are various kinds of cheddar and mozzarella, cheese curds, emmenthal, edam, colby, Monterey Jack, muenster, provolone, havarti, Swiss, gouda and farmers, as well as fresh cheeses like cottage, ricotta and feta, in a wide variety of formats, such as blocks, sliced and shredded, and in weights up to 40 lbs. for the food-service industry.

The Montreal Vaad has actually designated the Eldorado products as “mehadrin” cholov Yisroel, which even the most stringent kashrut observer will find acceptable, said the Vaad’s executive director Rabbi Saul Emanuel. All products are also kosher for Passover.

He hailed the launch of Eldorado as “an exciting development” because it encourages local kosher enterprise, makes efficient supply more likely, and may mean lower prices for consumers.

Cholov Yisroel cheese is supervised full-time by mashgichim from the time the cows are milked through the milk’s transport, processing and packaging. Eldorado is being supplied by a farm near Ottawa.

Instead of rennet, which is usually derived from a cow’s stomach lining, Eldorado is using enzymes to curdle the milk, Rosenberg said.

Cholov Yisroel represents about 70 per cent of the kosher cheese market in Canada, Rosenberg said.

Non-cholov Yisroel kosher hard cheese, as well as fresh, is made in this country. Rabbi Emanuel said this type of cheese production is supervised by a mashgiach at the plant only.

As the Eldorado products come onto the market, importers will no longer be able to bring in similar cholov Yisroel cheeses tariff-free, Letourneau explained. They could continue to bring them in if they pay the full tariff, he said. (Free trade does not apply to dairy products.)

Certain types of imported cholov Yisroel cheese, say havarti or edam, may continue to come in, until Eldorado is making those types, or if Eldorado does not make them.

Rosenberg acknowledges that there may be some resistance from consumers who have been used to eating the same (imported) cholov Yisroel brands perhaps all their lives, but thinks they will be won over by the quality of his products.

SUBWAY Opens Kosher Restaurant in Brooklyn

The SUBWAY restaurant chain is pleased to announce the opening of its first kosher location in the New York City area. This marks the sandwich franchise's second North American kosher restaurant and the first of its kind on the East Coast.
Officially opening for business on January 2nd, the restaurant is located at 1219 Avenue J, in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. Owned and operated by three Sephardic Jewish business partners from the community, the restaurant is primarily a family affair with wives, mothers and other relatives taking turns baking bread, prepping ingredients and making sandwiches for the throngs of customers, many of whom have never before eaten traditional American-style fast food.
"I invite everyone to stop by and try our world-famous submarine sandwiches. Subway offers a variety of options that appeal to those interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and the opening of a kosher Subway restaurant in Brooklyn gives individuals and families an additional choice when deciding where to eat," said SUBWAY franchisee, Jack Mosseri. "I am not aware of any other popular restaurant chain in the country that has so thoroughly adapted its menu to meet kosher dietary laws."
The SUBWAY restaurant on Avenue J is under the rabbinical supervision of Rabbi Gornish. In keeping with Jewish tradition the restaurant closes on Friday at sundown and reopens for business one hour after nightfall on Saturday. With slight modifications, such as no cheese or pork products, the majority of the menu is almost identical to that of any other SUBWAY restaurant. The restaurant also offers catering services for meetings and special events to local schools and businesses.
"This is the busiest Subway store I've ever seen," says Daryl Meyers, the SUBWAY(R) chain's Development Agent for Brooklyn. "Customers love it and they are already getting repeat business."
Since opening the first kosher SUBWAY location, at a Jewish Community Center in a Cleveland suburb last year, the chain has received many inquiries from prospective franchisees around the country who wanted to know how they can open their own kosher SUBWAY(R) restaurant too. Understanding that these inquiries represent a significant potential for the brand to introduce SUBWAY sandwiches to a vast untapped segment of the population, it was decided to go forward and develop additional kosher locations.
"There are more kosher Subway restaurants on tap for the NY metropolitan area as well as some planned for other parts of the country," says Tim Miller, Operations Management Specialist for the SUBWAY chain, based at the company's world headquarters in Milford, Conn. "By the end of this year, we expect to have as many as eight kosher more locations up and running. We feel confident that we are able to do this mainly because of our extensive experience adapting our menus for consumers in areas such as India or the Middle East, who have specific religious or cultural food preferences."
With more than 27,000 locations in 86 countries, the SUBWAY restaurant chain is the world's largest submarine sandwich franchise. The SUBWAY sandwich chain surpassed the number of McDonald's locations throughout the United States, Canada, and most recently, in Australia and New Zealand. Sandwiches are served on Italian, wheat and a variety of seasoned breads that are baked fresh daily in each restaurant. Hot and cold subs, many with 6 grams of fat or less, are available with an assortment of meats, vegetables and condiments, all added per customer request.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Subway... Eat Fresh And Kosher

With more than 27,100 locations in 85 countries, the Subway restaurant chain is the world’s largest submarine sandwich franchise. It has even surpassed the number of McDonald’s locations throughout the United States, Canada, and most recently, in Australia and New Zealand.

Recently a glatt kosher Subway franchise opened in Brooklyn’s Avenue J shopping district. The first ever-kosher Subway opened at a Cleveland JCC less than a year ago. Seeing how successful it turned out, storeowners Jack Mosseri and Morris Amkie bought the rights to use the Subway trademark name and logo for a second glatt kosher Subway store.

On the heels of the trans-fat ban, New Yorkers are becoming more health-conscious than ever. Gone are the days of Jews flocking to eateries that dish out oily, fatty foods. “The Jewish community needs a place to eat fresh, clean, healthy food,” Mosseri explained to The Jewish Press
Despite being surrounded by established and popular restaurants (some that also specialize in deli sandwiches), Subway remains unconcerned. Mosseri differentiates the eateries saying, “We do absolutely no frying here; you will not be served oily fries.” Kosher Subway offers an impressive menu of turkey, pastrami, corned beef and meatballs sandwiches that can be prepared on whole wheat bread. The only difference between a regular Subway branch and the one on Avenue J is that no cheese or soy products are used.

When asked if there is anything authentically “Jewish” about this Subway, Mosseri responded, “Yes, Jewish people love meat, so we pile on more corned beef and pastrami than your average Subway.”

In addition to health, Subway takes kashrus very seriously too. Their mashgiach is Isaac Levy and they are overseen by Rabbi Gornish. Going further than the Cleveland kosher Subway, the Brooklyn kosher Subway stresses that they are “100% Orthodox.” Surprisingly, the Cleveland kosher Subway’s owner is not Jewish rather a Lebanese Christian and he tries to mimic the original Subway’s menu as much as possible having smoked turkey instead of ham and soy-based mock cheese.

The response to the glatt kosher Subway has been positive. In fact, business has been booming to such a degree that the owners of Subway have not even had the chance to publicize their grand opening. The owners humorously expressed their concern about more business since currently they are serving food at their capacity. Mosseri clarifies saying, “No bread, no business.” Subways bakes fresh bread about every 40 minutes; they take pride in their high quality bread and do not want to compromise and have their customers settling for less than fresh bread.

Kosher Subway has become so popular that another one is scheduled to open in April 2007 in Los Angeles, California. Subway franchises are found worldwide, including one branch in N.J. that serves halal meat. There are over 300 Subway restaurants in the Middle East, however currently there are no Subway branches in Israel. For more information visit

Empire Kosher Poultry Introduces Factory-Sealed Packaging

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Empire Kosher has once again positioned itself as the industry leader in kosher poultry, by introducing groundbreaking packaging, the first to respond to recent concerns of counterfeiting and mislabeling of kosher poultry products.

As of February 12, 2007, Empire Kosher will eliminate its fresh bulk “Ice Pack” product line currently sold to customers/retailers who traditionally re-pack and further process the product.

Replacing the bulk pack is a Factory-Sealed product line where products will be bagged in branded bags and sealed onsite at Empire, offering consumers the security of brand authenticity and ensuring its kashrus status. These Factory-Sealed packages also have a tamper proof, holographic emblem providing a second layer of kashrus security.
“With Empire’s new packaging system, consumers can be assured that they are receiving a product that is 100 percent kosher. It takes the concept of the traditional plumba to a whole new level,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher, one of Empire’s kosher supervising agencies.

“This new initiative provides the consumer with a solid guarantee that the chicken and turkey they bring home to their family is, in fact, an Empire product and indeed kosher,” said Greg Rosenbaum, CEO of Empire Kosher Poultry. Rosenbaum continued, “It’s very simple. If a package is not branded and does not include the security hologram on the outside, it’s not guaranteed to be genuine Empire Kosher poultry on the inside.”

Master case weights, pack sizes, and products offered will remain virtually unchanged from current Ice Pack specifications. Within the case, whole chickens and turkeys will be individually wrapped, whereas chicken and turkey parts such as legs, thighs and breasts, will be grouped in Factory-Sealed bags so they can be simply put on a tray, weighed and over-wrapped.

Currently, retailers also customize products to consumer needs by cutting poultry into parts and special cuts by request. Empire products can still be customized for consumers but retailers will need to open the Factory-Sealed package and make any cuts in the view of the consumer. If a retailer removes the product from its Factory-Sealed package without the shopper’s knowledge, the product is not to be labeled “Empire Kosher” when put on the shelf for retail sale.

Other Empire products such as frozen poultry, cooked entrees and specialty frozen foods will soon carry the hologram emblem, ensuring the consumer that the entire product line has the same level of Kashrus security.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Survey: Kosher food a growth industry

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The average kosher consumer spends about $1,000 more each year on food, according to a
recent study announced at Kosherfest, a trade show.
Kosher food companies are growing at an annual rate of 10 percent to 15 percent due to increased sales of wines, cheeses, snacks and frozen foods. The survey also reported strong sales of new kosher liquors and pre-washed vegetables.
More than one-fifth of U.S. consumers, Jews and non-Jews, buy some sort of kosher product, contributing to $175 billion in annual sales. Buyers who aren't Jewish most often buy kosher foods because they believe they are healthier, the study said.