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New York’s Kosher Label Law Upheld

New York’s kosher law, which regulates the labeling and marketing of kosher food, does not violate the Constitution’s First Amendment, a federal appeals court ruled.

The three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled May 10 in a constitutional challenge to the New York State Kosher Law Protection Act of 2004. Previously, kosher was defined legally as “according to orthodox Hebrew religious requirements.” Several butchers challenged the law in a 1996 suit.

“The Kosher Act does not entangle the state with religion because it does not require the state to enforce laws based on religious doctrine or to inquire into the religious content or religious nature of the products sold,” Judge Christopher Droney wrote, saying that the law simply requires kosher products to be labeled with the required information.

Commack Kosher, a deli and butcher shop on Long Island, brought the lawsuit, as well as the suit that led to the rewording of the law.

The new kosher law does not define what constitutes kosher but requires producers, distributors and retailers of food sold as kosher in the state to submit information about their products, including the identity of the person or organization that certifies them, to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets. The information is published in an online directory.

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