After Scandal, Slow Start for Ethical Certification

Magen Tzedek Yet to Put Stamp on Any Kosher Products

By Seth Berkman

Published October 03, 2012, issue of October 05, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 4)

It was a May 2006 article in the Forward that spurred Allen’s idea for Magen Tzedek. The article reported on mistreatment of low-wage workers at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, then the world’s largest kosher slaughterhouse.

According to the Magen Tzedek website, in 2008 a commission was formed to create and apply a set of standards that would certify “that kosher food manufacturers in the U.S. operate according to Jewish ethics and social values.”

In May 2010, Allen told The Jewish Week that he expected to have 15 food producing companies on board within a year.

Allen cited an example of the kinds of setbacks his group confronted that kept it from meeting that deadline.

Recently, he related, the commission completed an initial audit of its first candidate to carry the seal. The results were shared with the company’s executives, but negotiations have stalled because of a recent senior management change within that company. Allen said his commission is in discussions with three other producers about using the Magen Tzedek seal. He declined to name them, citing a need for confidentiality during the process.

Allen said Magen Tzedek’s best prospects as potential partners are companies that have already developed their own standards and that emphasize ethical values in their branding and corporate culture. “We look for a corporate statement of responsibility, and work hard to establish contact with them,” he said. “We ask, ‘How do you verify this?’” With his group’s seal, Morris tells them, “you can walk the walk and not just talk the talk.”

The first step to certification is filling out a pre-screen application and a self-study form in which prospective clients answer how they currently fit standards in 22 categories, ranging from animal welfare to employee working hours. Companies are also asked to provide copies of all certificates, employee handbooks, waste reduction policies and a host of other manuals and policies.

Michael Siegel, co-chair of the Magen Tzedek board of directors, said his group had created the “most complete and comprehensive standards anyone has done,” noting that the process took several years to finish.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.