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Any Way You Slice It, A Lot Of Our Bread Will No Longer Be Kosher

NEW YORK (JTA) — The largest baking company in the United States will be removing kosher certification from nearly all of its bread and rolls.

Bimbo Bakeries USA confirmed to JTA that it will be removing the certification. The company produces brands including Arnold, Sara Lee, Stroehmann, Freihofer’s and others.

Two of its major brands, Entenmann’s and Thomas, will remain certified kosher. A couple of rye breads also will retain their certifications.

“Removing the kosher certification from some of our products was strictly a business-process decision to enable more efficient operations, and it was one we did not make lightly,” Bimbo said in a statement. “It is important to note that we have heard our consumers’ concerns and are working with kosher certification organizations and discussing alternative solutions.”

The company did not say when the decision will take effect, and the kosher certification agencies do not know, though they assume it will be sometime next year.

The decision will make it much harder for those outside major Jewish population centers to buy kosher bread, say executives at the Orthodox Union and Kof-K, the kosher agencies that certify the vast majority of Bimbo’s kosher products in the U.S. Rabbi Ari Senter, Kof-K’s kosher administrator, said the agency has received hundreds of concerned calls since the decision was first reported earlier this month.

Genack explained that the decision stems from a mix of corporate efficiency and obscure kosher laws: Bimbo wants the flexibility to produce its breads on the same factory lines as breads that contain dairy products. Because traditional Jewish law says meat and dairy products cannot be consumed at the same meal, breads for the kosher market must be strictly nondairy unless they appear and are marketed as obviously dairy — like cheese bread, says Senter.

Both agencies are in ongoing conversation with Bimbo hoping to salvage some more kosher brands and clarify when the changes will take effect. Until then, most breads remain kosher certified.

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