Unfortunately, SN missed an opportunity to bring clarity to an important and confusing issue in its article "Rabbis Object to FMI Kosher Audit" (Feb. 14, 2005, Page 27). The basis of the SN article appears to be a series of stories in the publication "Kosher Today," which made several inaccurate allegations about the FMI-NCCR Animal Welfare program without ever contacting or seeking comment from Food Marketing Institute (FMI) or the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR).
a world-renowned expert on humane slaughter. Dr. Regenstein is a well-known, well-respected expert on kosher.
Some adjustments were made based on comments that were received on the draft. The final version of the guidelines was published in 2003 and an audit, based on the guidelines, was developed by SES Inc., the company administering the FMI-NCCR Animal Welfare Audit Program (AWAP).
- Allegation [from "Kosher Today"]: That FMI and NCCR refused to meet with members of the Jewish community to discuss the guidelines. In fact, a year after the guidelines were published, a group of 15 Jewish leaders representing a narrow interest within the Jewish community contacted FMI and NCCR, and requested a meeting to discuss revisions to the FMI-NCCR kosher guidelines. FMI and NCCR agreed, but asked that the group meet first with Drs. Grandin and Regenstein to outline their issues of concern before such a meeting took place. FMI and NCCR said they would be happy to sit down with the group, along with Drs. Grandin and Regenstein, following that initial discussion.
- Allegation [from "Kosher Today"]: That a large FMI supermarket member is pressuring FMI to change the kosher guidelines and audit. In fact, the FMI-NCCR animal welfare program has been developed at the request of, and with the participation of, FMI and NCCR member companies. Our process has been inclusive, transparent and flexible. We have worked with the producer communities (including the kosher community), our members and an advisory committee of recognized animal welfare experts, including animal scientists and doctors of veterinary medicine. Our member companies have been committed to the program's success. We receive feedback from our members on a regular basis, but they have never pressured us to make changes our advisors are not willing to endorse.
The purpose of the FMI-NCCR program is to enhance animal welfare in the production and processing of animals for food. It is based on the belief that we in the food industry have a responsibility to ensure that animals are raised, transported and processed using procedures that are clean, safe and free from cruelty, abuse or neglect. We also believe that these goals are consistent with all religious principles and laws.