JERUSALEM, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Israel on Tuesday announced a historic reform program regarding the supervision on kosher food products in factories, stores, restaurants and hotels.
The new plan will abolish the rabbinate monopoly and open the kosher supervision market to competition in order to improve service, ease regulatory burden and lower product prices, the Israeli Ministry of Finance said in a statement.
Thus, the power to issue kosher certificates will be transferred from the local Rabbinate rabbis to private entities that will receive an operating license from the religious services minister, it said.
Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, the power to grant businesses with a kosher certificate, which certifies that food products sold meet the restrictions of the Jewish religion, is exclusively in the hands of Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the highest religious authority in the country.
The Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on kosher supervision has drawn wide criticism over the years in Israel, but since the Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties have been members of the Israeli government for long periods, no change was made so far.
However, ultra-Orthodox parties are excluded in the new Israeli government formed last month, paving the way for the reform, initiated by Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana.
The Israeli finance ministry said that the plan will cut the spendings on food to benefit the consumers.
"This is good news for millions of people from all religious affiliations, allowing everyone to consume kosher products according to their worldview and at lower prices", the ministry said. Enditem