Neither of these factors affects the kosher or non-
kosher meat sold at Hiller's, said Jim Hiller, the chain's
"I know where the beef we sell comes from," he said,
"and that beef is kept healthy until the moment it's
"There is no evidentiary link between BSE and mus-
cle meat — steaks, loins and chops," Hiller said. 'And,
instead of using 'tubed' ground beef, which could have
come from many sources, we grind our own ground
beef from the same steaks, loins and chops we sell."
This week, Hiller's began adding fresh organic beef to
its meat offerings. This comes from cattle fully certified
as completely vegetable-fed. "That will eliminate any
concerns whatsoever," Hiller said.
Kosher meat would never include a "downer" to begin
'An animal that is a 'downer' would not be used,"
said Rabbi Avrom Pollack, president of the Baltimore-
based Star-K, a major international kosher-certification
A shochet, or ritual slaughterer, would never accept a
visibly sick cow, such as the infected cow found in
Washington, industry insiders -say. If the animal were
sick, it could not be considered kosher.
In addition, animals raised for kosher meat are grain-
Kosher consumers are further protected because of
the way kosher beef is slaughtered, said Sam Duben,
kosher butcher at the Orchard Lake and Maple Farmer
Kosher slaughterers first slit the animal's throat,
"A kosher butcher who shechts [cuts] the meat first
takes the brain away," Duben said. "That's where the
disease comes from.
"Then they drain the blood. So even if there was a
disease, it couldn't come into the meat."
Non-kosher slaughter methods include shooting or
stunning an animal in the head, which causes brain
matter, where BSE resides, to be scattered to other parts
of the body.
According to the Torah, Jews may not eat certain
parts of a cow, including the sciatic nerve, various mem-
branes, attachments to the liver, and even some organs
— even if everything else is kosher about the cow.
Consequently, the laws of kosher "mitigate against the
possibility of disease," said Rabbi Menachem Genack,
rabbinic administrator of the kosher division of the
Orthodox Union (OU), which supervises the kosher
status of 275,000 products worldwide.
Farmer Jack has seen no decrease in sales of kosher
meat, Duben said.
"I've always bought kosher meat," said Barbara Jonas
of Bingham Farms, as she chose several packages of
ground beef. "My family doesn't eat a ton of meat,
mostly roast, lean hamburger, boneless chicken breasts. I
guess I'm worried about mad cow disease, but kosher
meat is slaughtered differently."
Added customer Carol Weberman of West
Bloomfield, "I always buy kosher meat, wherever I am.
I'm not worried."
At the Hungarian Kosher Grocery in Skokie, Ill., one
of the nation's largest kosher food supermarkets, store
managers have posted new signs reassuring customers
that, in light of the recent scare and media hoopla over
mad cow disease, kosher beef is safer than non-kosher
"Some people are paranoid. You tell them something
on television, and they think that's the way it is," said
Sandor Kirsche, the supermarket's owner.
Kirsche said he had expected a drop in demand for
kosher beef because of the mad cow scare but added
that he still is seeing his typical $25,000 in weekly beef
Abe Hollander, manager of the meat department at
Supersol in Lawrence, N.Y., another major kosher out-
let, says he, too, has fielded questions from worried cus-
But if the mad cow outbreak remains confined to a
few states, he says, "it should have no effect whatsoever
on the kosher beef industry.
"I don't pay any attention to it," Hollander said.
Hoping For A Boom
Menachem Lubinsky, president of Integrated Marketing
Communications, which produces the annual
Kosherfest trade show in New York, says he expects that
the mad cow scare will boost sales of kosher beef the
same way that several outbreaks of salmonella in recent
years sent kosher poultry profits soaring.
Lubinsky, also editor of Kosher Today, said some retail-
ers told him they anticipate a rise in the sale of kosher
beef to people who don't keep kosher.
In Canada, which experienced a mad cow scare of its
own last year, sales of kosher beef dropped less than
those of the non-kosher products, Shlomo Shem-Tov,
plant manager of Shefa Meats in Toronto, told the New
York Jewish Week. "It definitely slowed down a little bit
— [but] it wasn't major."
Shem-Tov said the manager of a Toronto grocery
store told him that "some people who usually bought
non-kosher meat, went into the kosher section," feeling
there was "less risk" by buying kosher.
Still, even assurances by experts that kosher meat is
safe won't alleviate all fears.
Said Atlanta's Gilmer: "Someone at the - Shabbos table
Friday said they were afraid of eating meat. I think you
might see people try to eat less meat. Maybe people will
eat more chicken.
"But I have no reason to believe that kosher meat isn't
better. It is better."
Rabbi Sanford Abramowitz, president of Zalman's
Glatt Kosher, a wholesaler of premium kosher cuts to
supermarkets in the East and Midwest that claims a 25
percent stake in the kosher beef market, agreed.
Only 35-40 percent of the cows that arrive at kosher
slaughterhouses end up being used, he said, because
many do not meet kashrut standards because of other
health issues, such as diseased lungs.
"I heard that non-kosher butchers are going to start
using the same methods we do," said Farmer Jack's
Gabriella Burman of the Atlanta Jewish Times, sister pub-
lication of the Detroit Jewish News, contributed to this
Dexter-Davison Kosher Meats shuts its doors for now.
he only female kosher
butcher in metropolitan
Detroit is ceasing opera-
tions — at least for the
"We are closing our business at this
time due to several freezer breakdowns
and difficulty settling with the insur-
ance company," said Sherry Gilman,
proprietor of Dexter-Davison Kosher
The Oak Park area suffered two
power outages last fall. In addition to
Gilman's business, which is located at
10 Mile and Coolidge roads, the out-
ages also caused considerable losses at
One Stop Kosher market and Zeman's
New York Kosher Bakery, both on
Gilman purchased Dexter-Davison
Kosher Meats late in 1999. Before tak-
ing over management of the store, she
worked several months without a
salary for its former owner, Eugene
"She has worked very hard, but she's
had a convergence of bad luck," said
Rabbi David Nelson of Oak Park's
Congregation Beth Shalom.
Rabbi Nelson has worked as mash-
giach (supervisor of kashrut) at the
butcher shop since Gilman took over,
Without receiving a salary. "She is a
fabulous worker and a loyal friend,"
he said. "I have never had a steak as
good as her steak, and I have never
been in a place as clean."
The store's existence also spoke well
of the Conservative movement, he
said, showing that "we also have
strong convictions about kashrut."
"I'm hopeful that all her experience
and hard work will pay off in the
future," Rabbi Nelson said. I 1