Mu Shu Kosher?

How’s this for an unexpected first sentence? “Chinese exporters, facing a U.S. backlash over tainted food products, are turning to an unlikely group of inspectors to help clean up their act: Jewish rabbis.” Fire the FDA; hire the rabbis. Bloomberg reports that kosher certifications in China have doubled in the last couple of years and the Orthodox Union, an inspecting organization, is anticipating thousands more in the near future.

It’s a trend that started before last year’s downpour of food-safety scares, but kosher inspections are now up precisely because of the scares. In an extraordinary statistic, Bloomberg says that “[f]ully half the Chinese exports to the U.S. of $2.5 billion a year in food ingredients, such as coloring agents and preservatives, are kosher.” There have been a few cultural misunderstandings, of course. For starters, a furniture company apparently requested certification.

The increase in kosher labeling is part of a worldwide story: As U.S. News & World Report wrote earlier this month, kosher has become “the most popular claim on new food products, trouncing ‘organic’ and ‘no additives or preservatives.’” Sales of kosher foods have jumped 15 percent every year for the last decade. It’s unclear if this is good for Jews. Maybe the goyim are buying kosher for the stricter supervision, not because they’ve picked up the Torah.