A new report has shown that kosher food businesses in the borough of Barnet are two-and-a-half times more likely to have hygiene concerns than non-kosher businesses.
The figure follows analysis of grades given by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), whose inspectors visit restaurants, shops, cafés, hotels, caterers and wholesalers, assessing the hygiene of the food handling process, the standard of the facilities, and overall premise and operation-management.
The work, undertaken by Ben Crowne, a forensic accountant who previously lectured at the London School of Jewish Studies, collated publicly-available ratings for 148 kosher businesses in Barnet, and compared these to the council average.
Ratings go from 0 (“urgent improvement required”) to five (“very good”), with ratings of two or less indicating that improvement is required.
Crowne found that 15 percent of kosher businesses in Barnet were rated 0-2, compared with only six percent generally in Barnet. Likewise, only 36 percent of kosher businesses were rated 5, compared to 60 percent across the borough. “It’s reasonable to ask that kosher food is hygienic, abides with legal and social norms, and that the supervisory bodies… act with a basic level of probity and for the public good,” said Crowne.
While the data – published on the FSA website – can be up to two months old, Crowne said: “I don’t think this is a huge surprise to anyone. But it’s a little depressing to have it confirmed with data.”
He added: “Kosher consumers are paying substantially more and getting substantially poorer quality outcomes.”
A United Synagogue spokesperson said: “It is the responsibility of kosher outlets to ensure their food hygiene is up to standard. The kosher-buying public will expect improvement.”