The Orthodox Union is suing a Pennsylvania-based seafood-importing company, saying it falsely claimed the OU certified its tilapia fish as kosher, highlighting a common problem in the increasingly global kosher marketplace.
In a suit filed in federal court in Manhattan, the Orthodox Union, a Manhattan not-for-profit with a kosher division, sued Western Edge Inc. for trademark infringement and deceptive trade practice, alleging the unauthorized use of its registered certification mark.
The suit alleges that Western Edge produced a fraudulent letter when asked by a Brooklyn food company about the kosher status of its tilapia fillets.
But company officials say the letter came from its fish-production plant in China. “To my understanding there may have been a misunderstanding originating from the producing plant in China about what type of kosher certification they had,” said Donald Kelley, procurement manager for Western Edge. “The only actual participation we had was to forward a letter.”
Kosher food is estimated to be a $13 billion market in the U.S. and has grown by about 15% for each of the past five years, said Menachem Lubinsky, president and chief executive of LUBICOM Marketing Consulting in Brooklyn.