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Lawsuit says Hebrew National isn't kosher; ConAgra disagrees

The lawsuit claims that Hebrew National charges high prices for a kosher designation that it doesn't deserve. ConAgra Foods says the suit is 'without merit.'

June 21, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu, Los Angeles Times

ConAgra Foods Inc., the food giant that makes Hebrew National hot dogs, said a lawsuit questioning the product's kosher status is "without merit."

The lawsuit, filed by 11 consumers in federal court in Minnesota, claims that Hebrew National charges high prices for a designation it doesn't deserve.

The suit, which is seeking class-action status, accuses ConAgra of often using dirty animals for its meats. Kosher standards demand healthy and clean livestock.

According to the suit, employees of a meat processing company used by ConAgra complained that the beef preparation methods being used weren't up to par, but those workers were ignored, retaliated against or fired, according to the suit.

ConAgra pledged in a statement to "stand behind our kosher status." The Hebrew National product line, it said, "is certified by a well-recognized and authorized third party. There is close rabbinical supervision of the food preparation process and packaging equipment."

Hebrew National products are marked with the Triangle K symbol, which signifies kosher qualifications "as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law," the company said on its website.

The brand "has followed strict dietary law" for more than a century, "using only specific cuts of beef that meet the highest standards for quality, cleanliness, and safety with no by-products, artificial flavors or artificial colors," according to ConAgra.

In fiscal 2012, annual revenue from Hebrew National products exceeded $5 million in the U.S., according to the lawsuit.

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