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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Empire Announces New Chicken Labeling Policy

In response to recent allegations of deliberate mislabeling of their chickens, Empire Kosher Poultry has revamped its packaging and labeling policies. From the Jewish Star:
Empire will no longer sell chicken by the case, packed in ice. It will replace the fresh bulk “Ice Pack” product line with a factory-sealed line “where products will be bagged in branded retail-portion bags and sealed onsite at Empire,” according to Empire CEO Greg Rosenbaum. A security hologram will be added as well.

Rosenbaum said, “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.”

If a butcher elects to remove the factory seals, the poultry is not to be relabeled with the Empire name.
Sounds like the new policy will prevent any margin for "clerical errors" in the labeling of retail chicken. On the other hand, I know many people who greatly enjoy the convenience of being able to buy the Empire brand (or at least what they assume is the Empire brand), repackaged by the retailer to their preference. I wonder whether the Empire-sealed and hologrammed packages will be packaged in the manner consumers are presently used to finding in the refrigerated cases (i.e., all thighs, all breasts without wings, drumsticks, chicken in 1/8ths or 1/4ths, or any of the other seemingly myriad permutations that can be found in a given local kosher supermarkets). If not, consumers who preferred Empire in the past will have to consider either giving up the convenience of their beloved specialty packaging - or their beloved Empire.

21 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a kosher foods distributor who prefers to remain unidentified as I sell to ALL the kosher markets in the 5t. I am not frum-yet I understand that the Bolenders have been questioned on this repeatedly. Knowing the owner of Empire Kosher on a family basis (we have attended each others simchas...) are you aware that they are NOT orthodox? Why is this an issue? They are well supervised by the OU-does it really matter? Empire was owned in the past by goyim and even Arabs! Supervision is a business-if it is done well then it is successful-if not than it is questioned. Are we questioning the Vaad or the Bolenders???

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont know how much contact the empire owners have with the day to day running of affairs. part of the problm the vaad had with bolender was his involvement in the affairs. if someone has control and keys to everything, trustworthiness is tantamount.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Just a Jew at KosherFest said...

I was at Kosherfest, and spoke with numerous people at the Empire booth about their new packaging and to answer OM's question, yes it will be available in whole chickens/turkeys and parts. So, people can go on enjoying just the white or dark meat.

They showed me the samples of the bags they will be using and a very nice looking hologram sample as well.

They seemed to have the market sized-up very well, explaining that this is response to the Monsey situation and to help avoid 'clerical errors'.

They did refrain for discussing any particluar 'clerical error' even after I pushed a bit.

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how much this is gonna cost all of us!!!!

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Empire would be smart to sale price it to start, to kepp the base coming.

Does this poloicy prohibit a reseller from opening a sealed package (on their own or at customer request) and cutting up the chicken to order?? It would seem only that the chicken can no longer be guranteed to be Empire, but there is no rule against it.

8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 12:14i dont know how much contact the empire owners have with the day to day running of affairs. part of the problm the vaad had with bolender was his involvement in the affairs. if someone has control and keys to everything, trustworthiness is tantamount

Are you naive enough to think that the day to day operations of a plant in pennsylvania is done by frum people? I have been to the plant numerous times-most people there do not even speak a word of English! The rabbi is there to check periodically-the plant is HUGE-it would be impossible to oversee every bird being processed-you are living with a VERY false sense of security as to it's integrity!

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every chicken and turkey at Empire is overseen by numerous Rabbonim.

Obviously, each one is hand schechted, then each is inspected by a Mashgiach after the USDA.

Also all the product is locked and sealed by the Mashgichim.

Go see for youself, my shul went on a trip there.

You can also call Rav Belsky, he was very nice to me on the phone and says he himself eats and buys Empire.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you imagine that it is possible that if each and every piece of poultry is "hand-inspected" that so many are shipped without plumbas??? I have personally purchased closed cases(with the simonim around the case) and found at least 20% of the birds without them?

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The plumbas are placed on later in the process. And yes, each chicken is hand inspected by a USDA rep and a Mashgiach.

There's no other way to do it, Halachicly or legally.

Go and check. I did.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the birds are in a sealed case w/ simonim, why do you feel the need to be outraged about the plumbas? If you buy quartered chicken the odds are fair you won't get one anyway, since there's only one per bird.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems like another moral panic, and the growing clout of the mesuganner UOs on the kosher market. I'm torn between agitating to have more non-O start to keep kosher and support vendors who are supervised by rabbinic authorities who wil push back on the Monsey Meshuganners and agitiating to just drop keeping kosheer altogether, because the whole thing is nothing more than the rabbis trying to control the populace.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...exactly how is this being 'controled by the Rabbis' ?

I think that Empire is the only company doing this. Not other OU chickens. So who's in control?

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...exactly how is this being 'controled by the Rabbis' ?

I think that Empire is the only company doing this. Not other OU chickens. So who's in control?

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are all..in a word...NAIVE...
Kashrus is BIG business-rules are bent for $$$-maybe GG SHOULD have been paying off people in the forefront???

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"sale price to keep the base coming" ??

where do you think "the base" is gonna go? KFC?

this will jack the price of the chicken at least .50/lb

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is this going to "jack the price"?

Empire is already, by far, the most expensive, how could they change their packaging and then ask us to pay for it? Wouldn't work.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

where do you think "the base" is gonna go? KFC?


The base could easily go to the crappy "more kosher" brands, but you have to sink below the belt.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How come so many people know so little about food? Empire is not the most expensive. Empire, MARVID (from Montreal-Satmar), Arons (Rabaskin Chabad) Vineland (not split backs), G&G known as Natures Best are all the same price, or maybe pennies apart depending on the wholesaler. On the other hand, David Elliot and Rafael Franklin (Bethel, NY) are twice the price because they are range free and organic.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Empire's pricing is well more than 'pennies' above Vineland, Alle, Marvad, and Rubashkin....

Go to a store and look, then ask the store owner...

7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Retailers get what the traffic can bear. If you want lower prices do your shopping in a more modest neighborhood.

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who cares.

buy what ever you want. its all kosher. does it realy matter what brand??? do we all drive mercedes, or some of the poor folk in far crockaway drive chevys????

11:10 PM  

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