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You are in a grocery store and you see a product labeled as follows:

Contents: Bits of pork and shrimp in a cheese sauce.

Certified kosher by Rabbi Christopher McGonigle of Congregation Beth Messiah.

Is the manufacturer breaking any laws (civil or halachic) with this label? After all, the words "kosher" or "rabbi" are not copyrighted and the description gives the consumer all he needs to decide whether to buy. One could argue, however, that a non-Jewish consumer who buys kosher (80% of the kosher market!) may well be misled.

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  • Doesn't it serve as marit ayin?
    – Shmuel
    Jul 24, 2023 at 20:01
  • Are you suggesting it's ok to lie because the consumer should be smart enough to know it's a lie? Strange logic. I don't know if there's a meaningful definition of "kosher" in the civil context, but it's clearly a false statement halachically.
    – shmosel
    Jul 24, 2023 at 20:05
  • I am asking a question, not suggesting anything. Jul 24, 2023 at 20:08
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    a non-Jewish consumer who buys kosher (80% of the kosher market!) - that sounds like a misleading statistic. I assume the vast majority of non-Jews who purchase kosher food don't care or even know that it's kosher.
    – shmosel
    Jul 24, 2023 at 20:08
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    @shmosel -- I don't think that's true. Many non-Jews look for the kosher label. See, e.g., "Market research indicates that fully 62 percent of people who buy kosher foods do so for reasons of “quality” while 51 percent say they buy kosher for its “general healthfulness.”" in oukosher.org/blog/consumer-news/… Jul 24, 2023 at 20:13

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Breaking civil laws would depend on the country. In the United States "kosher" is covered under freedom of religion and thus anyone can claim something to be kosher according to their religious beliefs.

Concerning halacha this is most likely not someone who is Jewish. While technically the 7 Noahide laws do not outright prohibit lying the intention of many of them is to limit harm to others. Additionally it's expected that people follow normal convention in regards to their behavior. This means lying is looked down upon. While I can't say for certain if there are any direct punishments according to the Torah it is clear that dishonest behavior such as this is undesirable.

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    As Dude said, the US courts really, really want to avoid deciding what any given religion does or doesn't say. (I think New Jersey has a stricter truth-in-advertising law, and requires a big posted form in kosher restaurants describing their standards.)
    – Shalom
    Jul 24, 2023 at 22:25

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