Bayit Meshutaf, the secular division of the Habayit Hayehudi party, has decided to crack down on corrupt kosher supervision by setting up an anonymous hotline for citizens to report kosher supervisors who are not doing their work in good faith.A source in Bayit Meshutaf said that all reports would be investigated and referred to the Religious Services Ministry. The source said the idea came about following numerous complaints over the large sums of money businesses are required to pay to supervisors.
"The cost of kashrut supervision ranges from 800 to 2,000 shekels [$224 to $560], depending on the supervisor and the organization he works for," the source said.
"Businesses end up paying a lot of money, but there are no orderly standards and procedures. In addition, municipal rabbis often increase the kosher supervision fee according to their whim."
Representatives of the division say that some kosher supervisors ask to be paid in cash, without providing receipts, something that is clearly against the law. In addition, kosher supervisors often require businesses to buy glatt kosher products that are four times as expensive as other products, and insist that they make these purchases from specific vendors.
Bayit Meshutaf says its goal is to rein in the chaos that now prevails in the world of kosher supervision.
"A kosher certificate is a desired by many Israelis, both secular and religious, who are even willing to pay higher food prices for this," the source said.
"At the same time, the desire and need for a kosher certificate should not allow supervisors to engage in a free-for-all. We will refer every tip to the Religious Services Ministry and follow up to make sure they deal with it, so that we can uproot this phenomenon once and for all."
The hotline number is (052) 873-6395.