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March 29, 2013

Statement from the Rabbinical Council of California on Doheny Meats

http://www.jewishjournal.com/los_angeles/article/statement_from_the_rabbinical_council_of_california_on_doheny_meats

On Sunday March 24th, the RCC received video footage alleging kashrus violations at Doheny Kosher Meats, a store under its supervision. Within hours of receiving the information including time stamped surveillance videos, leading members of the Vaad Hakashrus met and, assessing the evidence of policy violations as compelling, ordered the immediate removal of our certification. Later that afternoon, a large group of community Rabbis and lay leaders met to review the known facts and to question the owner of Doheny. After initially denying any wrongdoing, he admitted to bringing unauthorized products to the store on two to three occasions.

After discussion, the meeting’s participants unanimously confirmed the decision to remove the RCC certification from Doheny Kosher Meats. In implementing that decision and determining to immediately publicize the RCC’s decision before Pesach, the Rabbinical authorities for the RCC consulted with Rav Yisroel Belsky, Rosh Yeshiva of Torah V’Daas and Posek for the OU Kashrut Division, and a nationally recognized kashrus authority. At 8pm Pacific time, Rabbi Belsky issued his ruling, based on the application of normative Halachic principles, permitting the use of products purchased from the store prior to the suspension of the certification. This ruling was immediately disseminated to the public.

In recent days, many allegations have surfaced which are factually incorrect. Over past years, the RCC received complaints from competitors of Doheny accusing Doheny of kashrus violations. The RCC investigated each and every one of these complaints at the time they were made but found no evidence of wrongdoing. To the contrary, each investigation showed Doheny in full compliance. In addition to asking these competitors to provide evidence of violations, the RCC took a number of steps to augment the security systems in place, in addition to the Mashgiach Temidi (full-time kosher supervisor) at Doheny.

Among them:

  • The RCC implemented a system whereby all boxes of meat and poultry from Doheny were numbered and logged by the on-site Mashgiach.
  • We also painstakingly reviewed invoices of product received and sold.
  • Only the Mashgiach had keys to the establishment, which were Mul-T-Lock industrial keys that cannot be duplicated.

There are allegations that Doheny possessed fraudulent Agri labels which the RCC is currently investigating. The serious lapse we did discover in the RCC supervisory system was the human error of an otherwise dedicated Mashgiach who absented himself for prayers, contrary toexplicit protocols. The Mashgiach has been suspended and the RCC is exploring ways to ensure this mistake does not repeat itself including better protocols to monitor Mashgiach compliance.

The RCC deeply regrets this circumvention of its kashrus standards. Unfortunately, even the most sophisticated systems can be breeched. The RCC’s dedicated Kashrus staff and full Rabbinic membership share the public’s outrage and sense of betrayal that a vendor schemed to subvert our policies and abused the community’s trust. Legal action is now being considered.

The RCC, a non-profit community kashrus organization, will continue to work diligently to provide our community with quality kashrus.

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