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Class action claims Hebrew National hot dogs aren’t kosher

Lawsuit alleges that the company misrepresents kosher standards and mistreats workers

Another frank fracas is cooking, although this time it’s centered a little northwest of hot dog hotbed Chicago in Minnesota, the home of the Jucy Lucy.

Eleven consumers filed a complaint in May against ConAgra Foods Inc. in Minnesota state court contending that its Hebrew National hot dogs and other products are not kosher.

The plaintiffs contend that ConAgra prints the “Triangle K” symbol on Hebrew National products to signify they are 100 percent kosher beef “as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish Law,” but that the company’s kosher slaughtering service, AER Services Inc., does not meet the necessary standards to warrant the label. The plaintiffs also claim that non-kosher meat was packaged and labeled as kosher, that meat was improperly inspected and that some cows were incorrectly slaughtered.

As a result of the mislabeling, the plaintiffs assert that ConAgra deceived consumers and was able to charge premium prices.

The lawsuit goes on to state that AER supervisors failed to address employee complaints that the meat processed was not up to kosher standards, and that the company fired, transferred or threatened retaliation against workers who wouldn’t swallow the tripe.

For its part, AER, which is not a defendant in the suit, said that the allegations are completely false.

"There is no basis for them, and they are without any merit," AER's President Shlomo Ben-David told MSNBC.

A ConAgra spokesperson yesterday stood behind its meat processor.

"While we can't comment on pending litigation, we stand behind the quality of Hebrew National and its kosher status," the company said.

The case was moved to federal court in St. Paul earlier this month.

For more on the Hebrew National lawsuit, read MSNBC and The Jewish Press.

And for more from InsideCounsel on recent hot dog-related litigation, read:

More beef between Chicago frank makers vying to become top dog

Vienna Beef sues rival hot-dog maker for recipe theft

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