Kosher diners won’t have to bring their own food to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
A new kosher restaurant opened within the past year in the Chinese capital, catering to foreign Jewish residents, tourists, a handful of Muslims and even a few Chinese citizens.
Dini's Kosher Restaurant owner Lewis Sperber told the Associated Press this week that he might also set up a second restaurant in the northern section of Beijing, closer to the area in which the Olympic Games will be held.
"If people leave the Olympics and want a kosher meal, we could have a place for them," said Sperber. The Games are expected to draw some 55,000 tourists to the city, a potential bonanza for the new kosher start-up.
A growing number of Chinese food manufacturers have joined the kosher certification bandwagon due to international concerns over the safety of Chinese products.
Recent contamination scares have significantly affected exports such as toothpaste, seafood and pet food. The financial impact of stores around the world pulling their products off the shelves has also made a dent in the credibility of other Chinese manufacturers as well.
As a result, a growing number of Asian food products factory owners seeking a way to boost the credibility of their safety standards have begun to seek kosher certification as the international standard in quality assurance.
Kosher certification involves a rigorous process in which rabbis experienced in the Jewish laws relating to food inspect the production facilities as well as the ingredients used in the manufacturing process.
According to the Mintel market research firm, 4,719 new kosher items made their debut in the US market in 2007. The data underscores figures showing that showed kosher food sales rose by an estimated 15 percent per year over the past decade.
US News and World Report weekly magazine quoted Mintel senior research analyst Marcia Mogelonsky, who agreed that consumers view kosher certification as the gold standard in quality assurance.
“It’s the belief among all consumers that kosher food is safer, a critical thing right now with worries about the integrity of the food supply,” said Mogelonsky.