Another supermarket bails on tainted hummus

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Yet another Park Slope supermarket has joined the Hummus War.

Royal Supermarket on Eighth Avenue last week joined a growing list of Slope groceries, including the Park Slope Food Co-op and Associated Supermarket on Fifth Avenue, that are refusing to sell Sonny and Joe’s brand of chickpea spread after learning that manufacturer Flaum’s Appetizing owes $260,000 in back wages to former employees.

Royal owner Zaid Sarsor has switched to carrying Sabra, but would carry Sonny and Joe’s again when the company settled with its workers.

“If the owner does the right thing, which he should have done by now, we’ll bring it back,” said Sarsor.

Park Slope Green member Joseph Sanchez, who is spearheading the anti-garbanzo campaign, said he would make do with other appetizers in the meantime.

“I enjoy any spreads and snacks that are made by companies that treat workers with dignity and respect,” said Sanchez. “The strong support from Park Slope retailers shows that this neighborhood won’t condone the selling of sweatshop products.”

The tasty spread is one of scores of delicious kosher food products made at Flaum’s Appetizing’s Scholes Street factory since 1918, including lox spread, herring with schmaltz, and classic horseradish with beets — a fixture in many South Williamsburg homes.

The company has tried to expand its market beyond kosher-keeping households with new products such as Sonny and Joe’s in specialty food stores throughout North Brooklyn with moderate success.

But Flaum’s owner Moshe Grunhut became embroiled in a sour labor dispute with his mainly Latino workers, after several claimed he did not pay them for working overtime.

And two years ago, Grunhut lost a court decision to the workers, and was ordered to pay $260,000 in back wages. A manager at Flaum’s said the company is still negotiating with the workers.

Flaum’s worker Felipe Romero applauded Royal and Park Slope snackers for forgoing locally made hummus until the company spread around its profits.

“My brothers and I have collectively dedicated 33 years to Flaum’s but that didn’t count for anything when we stood up with our coworkers against wage theft,” said Romero. “With the decision of Royal Supermarket to stop selling Flaum’s products we are another step closer to winning justice.”

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Reader Feedback

Or from Yellow Hook says:
Smart move, make sure they NEVER have the money to make the back payments.
April 27, 2011, 8:39 am
Charlie from Fort Greene says:
But Don't Switch to Sabra. Boycott Sabra Too.


Sabra Hummus is made by Sabra Dipping Company LLC, which is 50% owned by the Israeli company the Strauss Group in a joint-venture partnership with PepsiCo (the Strauss Group also owns 100% of Max Brenner, see below). The Strauss Group is the second largest Israeli food and beverage company and is widely touted as one of the great successes of Israeli industry.

The Strauss Group supports the Israeli army and specifically, the Golani Brigade, an “elite” unit with a history of severe human rights abuses. On its website, the Struass Group presents this support under the banner of “Corporate Responsibility,” proudly proclaiming its special relationship with the Golani Brigade in the subsection entitled “In the Field with Soldiers” (Update Nov 6th, 2010: This page of their website has been revised. CLICK HERE for a screen-shot of how it appeared on Oct 9th, 2010):

“Our connection with soldiers goes as far back as the country, and even further. We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and sweeten their special moments. We have adopted the Golani reconnaissance platoon for over 30 years and provide them with an ongoing variety of food products for their training or missions, and provide personal care packages for each soldier that completes the path.”

Historically, the Israeli army has been a flagrant violator of human rights and international law. Even in this context, the Golani Brigade has attracted particular attention. According to a January 2009 article in Ha’aretz Daily, the Golani Brigade “is known as a brigade that struggles with no small number of disciplinary problems and scandals, caused by bad behavior ranging from revolts against commanders to abuse of Palestinians.”

“Breaking the Silence", a group composed of ex-Israeli soldiers, has documented numerous cases of Golani Brigade involvement in human rights abuses. For example, in November 2008, members of the Golani Brigade filmed themselves forcing a captive, blindfolded Palestinian to sing humiliating songs, some, as the BBC news describes it, “of a sexual nature,” and some about the Golani Brigade. In December 2005, a Golani Brigade officer was convicted for beating a Palestinian detainee and threatening to cut off his penis.

Yigal Amir, the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was a member of the Golani Brigade. A 1995 New York Times article on Amir and the Golani Brigade presented the following portrait of the Brigade’s behavior:

“One day reporters came upon some of them [Golani Brigades] in a Palestinian village near Bethlehem, dragging youths into a bus packed with soldiers beating their clubs on the steel seat frames in unison and chanting wildly: ‘We are Golani! We are insane!’….

‘In Golani, everybody hits,’ Mr. Amir’s comrade, Mr. Nagar remembered. . . . During searches in Jabalaya, a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Mr. Nagar said, ‘The officer says, before breaking into a house, give them a 10,000 mile tune-up.’”

The Times article noted that in addition to Amir, “Three men who had served in Golani have committed widely publicized murders of Arabs and an Israeli peace campaigner.”

Sabra’s annual sales represent about 40% of the $312 million market for refrigerated dips and spreads in the United States. The company’s August 2010 relocation from Astoria in Queens, New York, to Richmond, Virginia, has affected 154 workers.
April 27, 2011, 11:27 am
Marshall from Prospect Heights says:
To Steve from downtown: I wish the state of Israel followed Jewish law

To Charlie from Fort Greene: Which Hummus can I buy in a humanitarian state of mind? I've been partial to Tribe lately.
April 27, 2011, 2:09 pm
Charlie from Fort Greene says:
I know of no other issue with any other Hummus producer.
April 27, 2011, 3:49 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
BTW who ever wrote the headline should watch out for a lawsuit. the Hummus is not tainted. Its the owner of the company that makes the Hummus that least in the context of not paying ordered back pay. But the Hummus itself is fine. Historically the Israeli army was NOT a human rights violator. It may have become so under Sharon and particularly in Lebanon but it is not been a human rights violator historically. And oh BTW the killing of anyone trying to make peace in the mid east go back as far as 1949 when King Hussein's grandfather was killed on the Temple Mount for getting too close to the state of Israel. Sadat, Rabin and two other peace activists-murdered in the Palestinian controlled area in the last month do not bode well for peace and a boycott of Israeli produced goods has been tried before....
April 27, 2011, 5:28 pm
steve from downtown says:
Every army in the world has it's soldiers that violate its' military code of conduct, just as every society has it's lawbreakers. They should be held accountable for their actions, and in Israel, they are. There is no one more moral army in the world, which acts with profound restraint against such overwhelming anti-Jewish world bias, than the Israel Defence Forces. There is not enough space in this blog to list the attrocities commited by Palestinian thugs who have specifically targeted children and hospitals, in the name of "liberation". Like the US Army's Green Berets, the Golani Brigade are elite soldiers in defense of their country, and hence American ideals and interests. Thanks for the info Charlie; next trip to market, I'll be looking and enjoying SABRA Brand appetizers.
April 27, 2011, 6:48 pm
steve from downtown says:
only thing smelling bad is your bigotry, Sid from Boerum.
April 28, 2011, 8:13 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
Steve it was someone impersonating me....and has been removed.
April 28, 2011, 6:52 pm
steve from downtown says:
OK, sorry.
April 28, 2011, 8:01 pm
Xmilitary from park slope says:
I have served along side isaeli soldiers and they were nothing but exceptional. if we were to boycott israeli products then we must boycott all middle eastern products, because they are the only ones that care for human life.
find me one arab country that a jew and christian that can live side by side.
And Charlie from Fort Greene get your facts straight, stop watching AL JAZER
April 28, 2011, 11:59 pm
alexandra from eas williamsburg says:
great to see israel supporters in brooklyn! i never really cared where my hummus came from, but now i'll make it a point to eat sabra!
April 29, 2011, 1:36 pm
Steve from downtown says:
Please remove the previous comment about "blow the money on.." I did NOT post that. steve.from DT.
May 1, 2011, 9:23 am

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