Bimbo Bakeries USA — the largest baking company in the U.S. as producer of brands including Arnold, Sara Lee, Stroehmann, Freihofer’s and more — will be removing kosher certification from nearly all of its bread and rolls, JTA reports. Two of its major brands, Entenmann’s and Thomas, will remain certified.
“Removing the kosher certification from some of our products was strictly a business-process decision to enable more efficient operations, and it was one we did not make lightly,” Bimbo (pronounced “Beem-bo” said in a statement. “Thomas’ and Entenmann’s products as well as Arnold’s and Levy’s Rye Breads will remain kosher-certified. It is important to note that we have heard our consumers’ concerns and are working with kosher certification organizations and discussing alternative solutions.”
Rabbi Menachem Genack, the rabbinic administrator of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division, told JTA that they’ve been hearing from consumers.
“If you live throughout the United States, it’s not always so easy to get kosher bread. In terms of kosher bread, Bimbo plays a critical role.”
According to traditional Jewish law, meat and dairy products cannot be consumed at the same meal. As such, breads for the kosher market must be strictly nondairy unless they appear as obviously containing dairy. Bimbo wants the flexibility to produce breads on the same factory lines as others that contain dairy products.
“Their primary concern is one of flexibility within their plants, that they can produce it on other lines that are not necessarily designated for kosher,” Genack said.