Does anyone here know anything about the reliability of "Rabbi Barnett Hasden of Ner Tamid K in Staten Island, NY"?
If I was to compare it to another hechsher, it would be Tablet K. There is a lot of rumour and controversy surrounding the reliability and acceptance of the Ner Tamid K (Rabbi Hasden). It is, in general, not considered as reliable as the OU/OK/CRC, but the best thing to do would be to ask your LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi).
Well consider this:
Staten Island rabbi Dov Hazdan has been granting his own kosher certification to city Dunkin’ Donuts franchises that have served bacon, ham, and sausage, the trayf trifecta. “The meats all come prepackaged,” says Hazdan. “The employees have to wear gloves. I do not condone mixing kosher with nonkosher.” In Manhattan, Hazdan has also given his ner tamid K stamp to Pongal Vegetarian, an Indian restaurant that operates during the Jewish Sabbath
I'm really not sure what to make of the first one (I'm trying to be Melamed Zchus, but if someone else can actually state a justification that would be great), but the second one isn't a Kosher issue per se, it is more a problematic behavior on the part of the certifier.
The bottom line is that it is pretty clear from a story like this that this is a certifier that is very lenient (as compared to what people are generally used to in other certifications). Ask your own Rabbi if that approach is compatible with your general level of observance.
I have spoken with Rabbi Barnett Hasdan myself and his response was that everything is under his strict kosher supervision. He is a student of the late Rav Moshe Feinshtein z"l and he told me that if I wanted to know if he was a ne'eman then I could call Rav Reuven Feinshtein shlit"a and ask him. He also informed me that Rav Reuven eats all of Amy's pareve products, but ONLY due to the fact that Rav Reuven is strict on Halav Yisrael and NOT because the cheese products are not kosher. Further, I am aware of Haredi mashgihim who work for the OU who also eat pareve Amy's products in their home, but avoid the dairy products due to the issue of them not being Halav Yisrael.
I challenge anyone reading this who is a yireh shamayim to simply pick up a phone and call Rabbi Hasdan yourself. If after a conversation with this obviously religious (read, "Orthodox") Jewish man you are still not satisfied then by all means feel free to continue to abstain from eating the products he supervises. However, it is does not become all of a sudden mutar to spread rumors about his kosher certification which almost certainly jeopardizes his parnasah. To do so is a very grave sin.
The politics and arguments over kashrus certification are almost never le-shem shamayim. Anyone who knows about the intense competition and mud-slinging which often accompanies the determination of who is a religious enough Jew to supervise kosher food and who is not knows this to be the case.
The words which the Ramba"m wrote in a letter to his son, Rabbenu Avraham ring very true to this discussion:
“Do not engage in mahloqeth which makes one’s nefesh disgusting...Mahloqeth destroys bodily health, peace of mind, and money. What is left? I have seen pure ones blackened, families plagued and communities disbanded, pious ones lost, the faithful destroyed, the honorable undeservedly shamed - all from mahloqeth. Prophets have prophesied, the wise offered insight and philosophers probed, but they still have not plumbed the awful horrors of mahloqeth..."
“Therefore, despise mahloqeth and flee it. Distance yourself from all its lovers and friends. Be proud of restraint. Know the greatness of forbearance, which is genuine gevurah and victory. In this manner, you will be sanctified even in the eyes of your enemies, who will appreciate your greatness of spirit..."
Mori Yusef Qafih z"l once stated that many of the differences in halakhah which we face between religious Jews are merely DeRabbanan, while the issur of arousing a mahloqeth is from the Torah itself. Think about this.
May we all be zokheh to put away damaging speech, distance ourselves completely from mahloqeth, and treat each other with the dignity and respect due a fellow Jew.