Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Just What We Need -- Milk With Four Hechsherim...

Matzav is reporting that a new brand of milk and yogurt, named Machmirim, will be hitting the markets shortly. The dairy products from this brand (cholov yisrael, naturally) will have not one, not two but *four* hechsherim.

I've got to admit, to me, this sounds like a parody. But then again, who knows? The (frum) world is crazy enough that it just might be true.

Nonetheless, I think we have to ask ourselves -- of what extra value is it to the consumer to have four hechsherim on milk? I seem to recall, deep in the recesses of my memory a rule called "eid echad ne'eman b'issurim (a single witness is believed regarding [ordinary] prohibitions)"? In other words -- suppose I come home in the evening and my wife has a delicious pile of chicken cutlets waiting for me (hint hint Eeees!). How do I know that they are kosher? I didn't see her buy a package of kosher cutlets? I wasn't watching to make sure that she didn't throw milk in the pan while cooking them? How can I eat her delicious chicken cutlets?

The answer is the rule I quoted above. If she tells me that they are kosher, then she is to be believed. It's really that simple. If she tells me that she picked them up from a reliable butcher and followed the rules of kashrus in the food preperations, then that's all I need. I don't need to anything further to ensure that the food is kosher.

That being said, can anyone explain to me why milk needs four hechsherim? Even if you're going to argue that two are necessary (as many companies -- for reasons [aside from marketing] that baffle me -- have two hechsherim on products) then of what value is the third and the fourth?

Or is it all simply marketing? Is it simply a company deciding to position itself as a holier-than-thou dairy company (hence the name "Machmirim") and preying on the cluelessness of the general public regarding kashrus?

As a final point, the slogan of the new company is "Anachnu Machmirim b'nei Machmirim" (we are the more stringent, the sons of the more stringent). Perhaps the best commentary on this was said by a Matzav commentator who used the (ill-advised) name "Avi Kolko:"

A sign of the times.
Machmirim bnei machmirim has replaced
Ma’aminim bnei ma’aminim.

The Wolf

15 comments:

frumheretic said...

It doesn't matter how many hechsharim the milk has, because milk isn't kosher to begin with!

(Actually, R. Herschel Shechter doesn't out and out say it, but he implies it and states that he "doesn't know why milk is kosher" based on rov treifos for milk cows!)

JK from KJ said...

Marketing, marketing, marketing, and once more, marketing.

Why market to one sector, when you can reach additional three?

Anonymous said...

By the time you pay off all those mashgichim, the milk becomes unaffordable except for those meshuggeh enough to pay the price.

Anonymous said...

I don't know this for a fact, but i would be that it is a propylatic measure to protect against attacks from the existing cartel that this new & cheaper competitor is somehow less kosher.

Anonymous said...

EID ECHAD READ THE REST OF MATZAV FOR A RETORT ON THAT COMPLAINT,and no one holds you need 4 each group uses their own so to widen the group of costumers

Mikeinmidwood said...

The world falls into a spiral of chumros.

Got Milk? said...

Actually, this milk is about $.70/half gallon *less* expensive than other cholov yisrael brands. It also seems to remain fresher longer. Of course it's marketing. Who cares? If they're bringing a (higher) quality product to market at a fair(er) price - ashreichem!

Rafi G. said...

the kashrut business is all money.

Baruch said...

Those who are saying it's to widen the group of consumers...the hekshers are Vaad Hakashrus of Skver, Khal Adath Jeshurun (KAJ), the Nirbater Rov (Rav Aharon Teitelbaum), and the Orthodox Union (OU).

Maybe Nirbater and Skver were the cheapest hekshers they could get which they felt could reach a sizable amount of Chassidim. Fine, understandable. Why do they need KAJ and OU? KAJ for those who don't trust the two chassidish hekshers (how many people are there like that?) and OU just in case the other three mashgichim are sick?

nsker said...

I hope few people are led to believe that there are actually 4 mashgichim at the milk farm. OU probably pays a mutually acceptable mashgiach, and the rest rely on him. Well, their rabbonim may visit once in a while.

The cost is essentially the same, and the abundance of hechsherim help reach extreme niches of the market, like those who would never touch anything with a certain hechsher unless there are 3 others on the product :)

Or some israeli charedim who adhere to a popular belief that OU is not an orthodox hechsher.

Lion of Zion said...

"this sounds like a parody"

why? alei katif lettuce has 6 hashgachot.

Uber_Yid said...

NU? (Or should I say Mu?)? So do dese cows wear Shaitels? Are those udders covered at all times (maybe some holes cut in a sheet)? Are they milked only by machines or other females? Proper tzniut must be maintained at all times, otherwise, what good is the number of hechsherim?

Akiva said...

Hey, here in Israel we don't eat it unless it has at least 5 hashgachas! Seriously, I rarely see anything with less than 3 hashgachas.

My shampoo has hashgacha, my daughter's body wash, the toilet bowel cleaner, the toilet paper. I've never seen a wine with less than 3 hashgachas.

Fortunately my food and housegood goods costs aren't running me more than 60% of my net income (the remaining 40% goes to the yeshivas).

What's not to be happy about with hashgachas? You barely frum American's are just catching up with a 4 hashgaha milk!

Disciple said...

Rabbi Swift in Pittsburgh paskened that one really good hashgocha suffices as a last resort (B'dieved)

Anonymous said...

Frunnie Yekkies only eat KAJ they dont trust Outsiders