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When Is An Apple Kosher?

Is there such a thing as a Kosher apple or are all apples Kosher? Guy MacGibbon of the Whitireia Journalism Programme investigates.

Apples labelled kosher are being exported independently of the New Zealand Apple and Pear Board, despite the New Zealand Orthodox Rabbinate saying that all apples meet the requirements laid down by Jewish dietary law.

Nelson orchardist Danny Freilich was granted a consent in April to export 50,000 cartons of apples to North America, the United Kingdom and Europe providing his product was labeled kosher and not placed next to ENZA product in supermarkets.

Mr Freilich was not required to reveal the source of his kosher certification by the Board, and is keeping it secret.

Rabbi David Gruber of the Wellington Hebrew Congregation said Mr Freilich did not obtain his certificate from the New Zealand Orthodox Rabbinate, which he says is the only authority that can issue kosher certificates in New Zealand.

"There could be problems to do with Jewish law that pertain to fruit, but they exist on the theoretical plane," he said.

He said that during the first three years of a tree¹s life its apples are not kosher, but inany case apples from immature trees are unlikely to be harvested.

In Israel, the harvest must be tithed to be kosher: a portion must go to the levite priests, a portion to the levites, a portion to the poor, and a portion must be eaten in Jeruselum.

He said another potential problem was genetic modification. "But, at the end of the day when you take an apple off the tree it is 100 per cent apple. We¹re not really interested in the gene strain inside the apple."

"These are the only remotely possible problems that could arise, and they are irrelevant in this case."

Mr Freilich declined to say what made his apples kosher claiming it was commercially sensitive infomation.

"Under the rules of the export consent anybody could take it up and I don¹t want to give anything away" he said.

However, a spokesperson for ENZA contradicted this saying the export consent was exclusive to Mr Freilich.

"Danny does not like the fact that New Zealand is a single desk set-up," said ENZA spokesperson Andrew Bristol.

He said apples cannot be exported independently of the board if they are in direct competition with ENZA product.

"That would only serve to create competition and reduce prices, reducing returns to growers."

Mr Freilich said he was talking to a Jewish pear grower about exporting kosher pears, but would not name the orchardist.

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