Friday, May 11, 2012

2nd Circuit Upholds New York's Kosher Food Disclosure Law

In Commack Self-Service Kosher Meats, Inc. v. Hooker, (2d Cir., May 10, 2012), the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of New York state's Kosher Law Protection Act of 2004. The law requires sellers and manufacturers that market their products as kosher to label the foods as such and to identify in a filing with the state Department of Agriculture the individuals certifying the food as kosher. Individuals who certify non-prepackaged food as kosher are required to file a statement of their qualifications with the Department of Agriculture. Establishments that prepare kosher food on premises must post a specified disclosure form regarding certification of its food and certain of its practices. The Act does not define what is kosher, adopt kosher standards of any particular branch of Judaism nor authorize state inspectors to determine if products are in fact kosher-- defects which led courts in a 2002 case to strike down an earlier version of New York's law on kosher food. The court found that the 2004 labeling and disclosure law does not violate either the Establishment or Free Exercise clause, nor is it unconstitutionally vague. Bloomberg News reports on the decision.