Religion Magazine

Interesting Psak: Do Not Buy Imported Cheeses, No Matter the Hechsher

By Gldmeier @gldmeier
Rav Shmuel Eliyahu was asked a question about buying imported cheeses that bear a hechsher and also says "mehadrin" along with the stamp of approval from the Chief Rabbinate.
The specific product is not mentioned, nor is the specific hechsher on the product mentioned, so presumably it makes no difference and the question asked is regarding all foreign hechshers, not the specific hechsher on the specific cheese this fellow saw in the store.
I do not know why such a general question was asked. If the hechsher is one the buyer normally relies on, why would he ask now? And if the buyer was unfamiliar with this hechsher, why did he not just ask about the specific hechsher? I suspect that either the question is fabricated to get to the point in the answer, which is fine and not uncommon.
Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat and member of the kashrut committee for imports,  responded with a psak that one should not purchase imported cheeses. Rav Eliyahu stressed that it does not matter which hechsher is on the cheese nor if it claims to be mehadrin and cholov yisrael, and even if it bears the logo of multiple hechsher companies, and even with the approval of the Chief Rabbinate, or whatever else it might be - do NOT buy imported cheeses.
Rav Eliyahu quotes his father, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu zt"l, to explain that the level of kashrut in Israel is far superior to the kashrut levels abroad. he says the best hechshers in chutz laaretz don't come to 1000th of the level of the basic hechsher level in Israel.
source: Kipa
Presumably cheese is only mentioned because of Shvuos right around the corner, but his approach is surely on all imported goods - the quote from his father makes no mention of cheese, just the levels of kashrut in Israel and abroad.
There are kashrut awareness organizations in Israel that believe the same and promote the same approach. A particular organization I am familiar with rejects the kashrut of imported products, no matter the hechsher on them with the same explanation of the best of kashrut abroad using too many kulas, leniencies, and being a far lower level than kashrut here. I myself have tested this by asking about products bearing the most widely acceptable of hechsherim and have been told not to rely on them.
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