NEW YORK (AP) -- Responding to allegations of worker abuse at the nation's biggest kosher slaughterhouse, an organization of Orthodox Jewish rabbis announced Wednesday it was forming a task force to craft Jewish principles and ethical guidelines covering the kosher food industry and business in general.
The Rabbinical Council of America said it would publish the results in a detailed guide. Rabbi Asher Meir, an author and expert in Jewish business ethics, will lead the task force.
"We are fully aware of the realities of a competitive marketplace spread all over the globe, and the need to provide affordable kosher food," Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg, president of the council, said in a statement. "In taking this step, the RCA seeks as a practical matter to reinforce ethical values and corporate policies, while ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of food products for the kosher consumer."
The kosher industry has come under scrutiny since a May 12 raid at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, resulted in the arrest of nearly 400 illegal immigrants in one of the nation's largest such cases. State officials say dozens of underage workers were employed there in violation of child labor laws.
Agriprocessors has denied any wrongdoing. On Wednesday, two women accused of helping illegal workers obtain and submit false documents pleaded not guilty in federal court in Cedar Rapids.
Laura Althouse, 38, and 29-year-old Karina Freund, 29, work in Agriprocessors' human resources department.
Althouse was charged with aiding and abetting document fraud, aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to harbor undocumented immigrants. Freund was charged with aiding and abetting undocumented immigrants.