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Jewish shoppers mistakenly believe kosher is better for animals – New study reveals the extent of kosher humanewashing.

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(DENVER, October 28, 2021) — Nearly half of Jewish American consumers (48%) purchase kosher animal products because they erroneously believe the label guarantees better animal treatment. According to the results of two national surveys released by Farm Forward, many adults in the general population and Jewish Americans believe a kosher certification means animal products such as chicken, beef, dairy, eggs, and fish come from animals who were treated better over the course of their lives than non-kosher. Significantly, the Jewish community—which is best positioned to influence kosher production and educate consumers about the realities of the certification and food industry—is even more likely to hold false beliefs about whether a kosher certification ensures humane animal treatment than the general public, 48% versus 40%.

“Virtually all kosher and non-kosher meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs come from animals raised on factory farms, yet the perception of kosher as better persists in kosher shoppers’ minds,” said Melissa Hoffman, Director of Jewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA). “This phenomenon is called kosher humanewashing.”

Consumer Expectation of Kosher Certification 

Kosher certifications in and of themselves wield significant humanewashing and healthwashing power among both Jewish and non-Jewish adults, whether or not companies intend to deceive consumers. A high percentage of Americans trust kosher to mean that a product is of superior quality, despite the fact that all animal products in grocery stores come from the same factories as conventional. Previous survey work demonstrates 79% of Americans are committed to broad anti-cruelty principles such as ensuring outdoor access. However, kosher-certified animal products often fall short of consumer expectations, including guaranteeing animals have regular access to outdoor pasture.

Key Findings 

  • Nearly half (48%) of Jewish Americans falsely believe that animals in kosher production are better treated than non-kosher. That statement is false.
  • Nearly half (48%) of Jewish adults agreed that a kosher label guarantees an animal “was treated humanely during its life,” compared to 40% of all general population adults. Kosher certification does not ensure this claim.
  • 75% of Americans purchase kosher out of concern for food safety, thinking there is a higher health standard. Kosher certification, in actuality, does nothing to safeguard public health from risky practices such as antibiotics overuse.
  • More than half of all adult shoppers for kosher food say they purchase kosher out of concern for workers’ rights (54%), environmental protection (66%), and public health (65%). Many Americans may be confused or misinformed about what a kosher label guarantees, as a kosher certification does not dictate standards for these areas.
  • Americans have faulty notions about what kosher means for specific aspects of farmed animal welfare, such as guaranteeing responsible use of antibiotics (44%), that animals were bred with healthy genetics (40%), that animals weren’t raised in confinement (33%) and spent their life on pasture (37% ): Kosher certification has no relationship to antibiotic use, healthy genetics, confinement, or access to pasture.

Proof 

The new data confirms what JIFA has inferred from previous research that shows people think kosher food is inherently better, whether that’s from a perspective of food safety, health, or overall quality. Consumers, both Jewish and non-Jewish, extend this belief to the way farmed animals are bred and raised. 

The two identical online surveys, conducted by Survey USA August 4-9, asked people about their purchasing behaviors and understanding of kosher labels on animal products. The general population survey size was 1,500 adults, while the Jewish-specific survey had 500 Jewish adult respondents.

Get Involved 

More than 200 Jewish leaders are responding to this issue by urging communities to adopt better food practices. Join the effort by sharing the leaders’ pledge on JIFA’s website jewishinitiativeforanimals.com/kosher.

About JIFA 

The Jewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA) supports innovative programs to turn the Jewish value of compassion for animals into action while building ethical and sustainable Jewish American communities in the process. JIFA is an initiative of Farm Forward.

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