Another supermarket bails on tainted hummus

Another supermarket bails on tainted hummus
Green Party leaders Gloria Mattera (left) and Daniella Liebling display a container of Sonny and Joe’s hummus — a delicious chickpea spread that Brooklynites are being urged to boycott because its manufacturer owes hundreds of thousands in back wages to workers.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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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