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Kosher Meat Scandal Rocks L.A. Market

Mar 28, 2013

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — As Southern California Jews continue to celebrate  Passover, there’s some shocking news about the meat that may be on their dinner  tables.

The Rabbinical Council of California has removed its supervision from one of  the area’s most prominent glatt kosher meat distributors.

You’ve probably heard of kosher — glatt kosher more strict.

There are strict religious guidelines for preparation, and it is very  expensive to buy.

One distributor who provides meat to restaurants, caterers, and customers in  Southern California has lost its religious backing, and an undercover video may  explain why.

For Rabbi Shimon Kashani and many of the Jewish faith, eating glatt kosher  meat is an important part of their religious practice.

It’s so important that religious supervisors oversee every aspect of the  food’s preparation and distribution. And Jewish families pay up to triple the  cost of non-kosher meat.

At Doheny Kosher Meat on Pico Blvd in Los Angeles, undercover video and  pictures show — at first glance — the rules are being followed.

A supervisor called a Mashgiach unlocks the warehouse and inspects the  deliveries.

“He’s looking to make sure products are coming from glatt kosher  slaughterhouse. They have the proper labels, they have the proper seal,” Rabbi  Kashani explains.

But the pictures taken by private investigator Eric Agaki have raised serious  concerns among rabbis throughout California.

On March 7th, 2013, Agaki videotapes a vehicle at an unsupervised warehouse  in Reseda at 5:58 a.m.

The private investigator follows the vehicle to a McDonald’s parking lot,  where it’s met by another car, driven by Mike Engleman, the owner of Doheny  Glatt Kosher.

Pictures show both trunks open. “They transferred the glatt kosher boxes from  his vehicle to the owner of Doheny Market,” Agaki says.

A short time later, video shows Englaman’s car at his lot at Doheny Glatt  Kosher.

Engleman waits for the Mashgiach to arrive and unlock the door to  oversee the delivery of sealed glatt kosher boxes.

But when the Mashgiach appears to leave the site, Engleman’s trunk is  opened.

“As soon as the Mashgiach left and turned the corner, he signaled his workers  to offload his trunk,” Agaki says.

“Same boxes, but they’re used. You can see they’re open, you can see that  they’re old, you can actually see some of them flapping,” he describes.

The boxes offloaded from the SUV are labeled glatt kosher, but their  appearance troubles Rabbi Kashani, as does the apparent lack of supervision.

“It seems that they’re bringing in some boxes that are not supposed to be  there, and they’re bringing them in when the Mashgiach isn’t there — that’s very  troubling,” Kashani says.

We visited Doheny Glatt Kosher Meat Sunday night after we were told the  Rabbinical Council of California — or RCC — as shown the undercover video.

No one would answer questions, except for one loyal customer.

“I would be surprised. I know the people, it’s a rumor,” the customer  said.

But just before 10 p.m. Sunday night, many in the Jewish community received  an email informing them:

“The RCC announced… it removed its kosher supervision, for cause, from Doheny  Kosher Meats located at 9213 West Pico Blvd.”

It went on to say that meat bought there until before 3 p.m. Sunday “is  permitted to be eaten and can be enjoyed on Yom Tov.”

The owner of Doheny Glatt Kosher spoke to us on the phone, only to tell us an  emphatic “no comment.”

But Rabbi Kashani tells us he believes the group of religious leaders made  the right decision to preserve trust in a costly way of life that carries deep  spiritual importance.

The RCC is a religious authority, and there is no indication Doheny Glatt  Kosher Meats has violated any government laws or regulations.

The private investigator did show us a box of glatt kosher labels from a  factory in Iowa and a device for making them that he says he found at that  warehouse in Reseda.

It’s unclear if the USDA is investigating this case.

Carolyn Costello, KTLA News

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