Keeping Israel Kosher Costs The Country $770 Million Every Year

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Kosher slaughter incurs some of the highest costs involved to meet the Kosher retail requirements in Israel. Reuters/Kacper Pempel

Strict kosher laws are costing Israel hundreds of million dollars every year, according to a new report from the country’s finance ministry.

According to a report by the ministry, kosher certification in Israel costs the country’s economy $770 million annually, with the cost of kosher slaughter and having kosher supervisors at supermarkets the most expensive, The Times of Israel reported.

The certifications for kosher food, stricter than in countries outside of Israel, have increased the price of producing food products in the country by 5 percent, the ministry said.

Some $152 million of the total cost to the Israeli economy derives from a monopoly on the supervision of the kosher standards by the country’s Chief Rabbinate. The current Chief Rabbis in Israel are Yitzhak Yosef (Sephardi Jew) and David Lau (Ashkenazi Jew).

“This monopoly requires thousands of jobs and its practices raise the cost of living in Israel as any exclusive provider in the production process would,” the report said, adding that $250 million of the cost comes from the kosher supervision of fresh produce.

Some Israeli politicians, such as Eitan Cabel, opposition Labor party member and chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee, have suggested giving retailers a choice of kosher supervision to boost competition and prices for the consumer.

Kosher food must comply with Jewish law, as defined by the Torah, the holy book of Judaism. Only certain types of meats are permitted and pork is specifically prohibited.

When an animal is slaughtered to comply with kosher specifications, certain techniques take place such as the removal of certain fats and veins before it is soaked in salt to remove the blood from the animal. All dairy products must originate from kosher animals also.