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Pico-Robertson butcher shop stripped of kosher certification by RCC

by Jonah Lowenfeld

March 25, 2013 | 3:32 pm

Doheny Glatt Kosher Meats, which operates a retail outlet on Pico Boulevard, has had its kosher certification revoked by the Rabbinical Council of California. Photo by Jonah Lowenfeld

Less than 36 hours before the start of Passover, a high-end distributor and retailer of kosher meat located in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood has had its kosher certification revoked by the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC).

Doheny Glatt Kosher Meats had its certification stripped for allegedly selling non-kosher meat that had been repackaged to look like it was glatt kosher.

The news, first reported by KTLA on Sunday, March 24, was also conveyed by email to members of Orthodox Jewish synagogues in the area that evening. One such email, from Beth Jacob Congregation, stated the community rabbis had decided that all meat bought from Doheny before 3 pm on Sunday was still considered Kosher.

Doheny’s retail store on Pico Boulevard was open for business on Monday. No kosher certificate was displayed, and the store’s long, old-fashioned glass display cabinet, usually stocked with cuts of red meat and chicken, was bare.

But at 1 p.m., just hours before sundown and the start of Passover, six people could be seen waiting in line to order beef, chicken and pre-prepared products from the now non-kosher retailer.

An employee at Doheny’s retail outlet said on Monday afternoon that only two or three people had brought back meat that had been purchased from Doheny after finding out about the revocation of its kosher certification. Those customers, he said, received full refunds.

The employee declined to offer further comment, but said the owner would have a response after Passover.

According to the KTLA report, the investigation into Doheny had been going on for months. Eric Agaki, of Hover View Investigations Inc., told KTLA that boxes used by Doheny showed signs of significant wear, suggesting they had been tampered with at times when the RCC’s kosher supervisor was not on site.

The investigator also told KTLA that the store was in possession of a stack of fraudulent labels.

A representative from the RCC could not be reached on Monday for comment, but as of Monday afternoon, its Web site no longer included Doheny among its list of kosher butchers and markets.

Video surveillance footage reportedly led to the revocation of Doheny’s kashrut certificate, but Selwyn Gerber, who heads a prominent accounting and wealth management firm in Century City, expressed frustration at the level of supervision being employed by kosher certifiers like the RCC.

“We have systems in place that were established in Eastern Europe,” Gerber said, suggesting that kosher meat could be subject to the same kinds of “inventory control systems” that manufacturers of designer handbags use to ensure that retailers are selling the real thing, not cheap knock-offs.

“And the rabbis should be bringing in a CPA firm with experience in that kind of work,” Gerber said, adding that his own firm was “not a specialist” in that type of auditing.

The revocation of Doheny’s kashrut certification by the RCC could have significant impacts on the market for kosher meat.

“It was the meat purveyor to all of Pico-Robertson,” Gerber said.

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