Strauss Milky products
Strauss Milky products Israel news photo: Strauss

The gelatin saga is nearing a close. Strauss Dairies will not have to admit it produced non-kosher food, but will compensate consumers for having used gelatin.

Nearly four years ago, mother and daughter Tova Nagler and Revital Mann, from Bnei Brak and nearby Givat Shmuel, respectively, filed a class action suit against Strauss Dairies. The two claimed that as consumers who wish to eat only kosher foods, they were misled between the years 1999 and 2004 into purchasing Strauss products that were made with gelatin.

The products, “Milky” and “Daniela” chocolate puddings, bore the Chief Rabbinate’s kosher authorization, yet also included gelatin made from ground animal bones. Gelatin made in that manner has long been a controversial issue in the world of kashrut (Jewish dietary rules); the Israeli Chief Rabbinate approved it for a while, but later ruled that it was not acceptable.

Apparently, the new ruling took a while to filter down, and in the meanwhile, many consumers were enjoying certified kosher Milkys and Danielas that in fact were made with gelatin the Chief Rabbinate had ruled was unkosher.

The two women sued Strauss, on behalf of all kosher consumers, to the tune of 12.3 billion shekels – including an estimated 3,000 shekels worth of damages for each of 1.9 million consumers.

“The products bear a Chief Rabbinate seal of kashrut,” the suit stated, “even though the Rabbinate did not approve the gelatin in the products.”

Strauss and the two women have now apparently agreed on a much smaller compromise settlement, worth 8.5 million shekels.

Asked why the Rabbinate is not assumed to bear some responsibility for the mistake, and/or is Strauss accused of deceiving the Rabbinate, the women’s attorney, Keren Tager, told IsraelNationalNews that she does not wish to discuss the case until the compromise is approved by the courts, which could be three months from now. “We did not accuse Strauss of deceiving the Rabbinate,” she agreed to say, however, and added, “We originally included the Rabbinate in our claim, but there is a technical problem with class action suits against the Rabbinate, so the claim was filed only against Strauss.”

The compromise offer includes the free supply of a large selection of Strauss dairy products to Bnei Akiva yeshiva high schools and ulpanot, as well as to Emunah Women daycare centers. In addition, Strauss will provide a certain amount of products to children’s centers and welfare associations.

Strauss will also grant across-the-board discounts of 12% on its Milky and Daniela products during the course of two weeks in 2010 and in 2011. Finally, Strauss will donate a half-million shekels to the children’s departments of hospitals outside central Israel.

Strauss says that its products have not included gelatin for the past six years.