|A Kosher Chicken in Every Pot - Part 3|
When he, along with two partners purchased Chai Poultry in 1988, CEO Charles Weinberg, had one goal in mind for the Toronto, Canada based company, “to create a world renown product.” Over two decades later, the company seems to be succeeding. The plant is now processing and shipping over 50,000 chickens per week.
KosherEye discovered this exceptional line of poultry as consumers; we purchase it from Grillerspride.com. Yes, it does cost a bit more – but we feel it’s worth it! Although it is not an organic choice , it is an extremely appealing one. The product arrives clean and basically devoid of those residual feather shafts and hairs. Yes, really, it is nearly completely featherless! And, the taste is delicious.
Weinberg explained that the Canadian standards for poultry are somewhat tougher than U.S. standards. The company adheres to all regulations – including feather removal. Even though the kosher requirement of cold water processing makes it more difficult to de-feather, the company created an effective system to comply. According to Weinberg, "inspectors in Canada have a zero tolerance for feathers, whereas in the U.S. residual feathers are allowed." *
The Chai Poultry plant is closely overseen. In addition to the on-site COR kashrut rabbis, the processing plant staff includes a veterinarian and four official Canadian government inspectors.
The birds are raised on consignment farms, following all of the stringent regulations of the government of Canada. Including the volume of birds, space requirements, the feed and how they are grown. Although the feed is not organic, it is chemical free. Additives and growth hormones are not permitted in Canada. The birds have access to the outdoors and are not caged. In the event that the birds do become ill, they are given medication – but all traces of antibiotics must be totally out of their systems prior to being shipped for slaughter.
The challenge for Chai, and other exceptional poultry brands, is quality verses value. Many consumers, especially those with large families or tight food budgets, shop and select primarily by price. These consumers are unable or unwilling to pay for a superior product. This is especially understandable now, during these financially trying times.
Chai poultry is available at several chain stores throughout the U.S and Canada. Online at Grillerspride.com. For additional information on where to purchase Chai poultry, call the consumer line: 800-561-8132
Special notes from KosherEye:
Wise Organic Pastures – We are very appreciative to Issac Wiesenfeld for welcoming us to his processing plant and farm and giving us complete access to both facilities. In addition, we are grateful to Moshe Fink of David Elliot Poultry for sharing detailed information about kosher processing and allowing us to tour his processing facility.
Chai Poultry – We appreciate the cooperation of CEO Charles Weinberg who was interviewed by phone - since Toronto, home of Chai Poultry, was not on the kosher tour this time.
Empire Kosher Poultry -After several telephone calls, messages and emails to the company, we received no response from Empire. In the interest of providing a comprehensive kosher poultry feature for our readers, we followed up with a request to Empire’s media representative who sent us the following Empire response: “The chickens are raised at dozens of growout houses in central PA, with (sic) a 100 mile radius of the plant. Due to health and safety rules, there are no visits to them. Empire is very strict about who can enter and be in contact with the birds.”
We look forward to hearing from Empire as we explore future features. Empire has recently acquired one of our favorite brands of poultry, Kosher Valley. Our lines of communication are open. We would like to know about this acquisition and how it will affect the product.
This list, from Consumer Reports, of Common Industry Chicken Terms, is very informative.