JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Can a kashrus agency certify as kosher a restaurant which serves products which are imitations of “treif” (non-kosher) foods? Is a person allowed to eat such products or would this be considered to be maris ayin, meaning that he appears to others to be eating non-kosher? This question has become more practical in recent times as kosher cheeseburgers (which use soy cheese instead of real cheese) have become fashionable, with places like Talias Steakhouse on the Upper West Side of Manhattan selling such glatt kosher burgers.
Some chareidi rabbis will not give a hechsher (kashrut certification) to such foods but many are willing to give a hechsher since it is well known nowadays that such imitations exist (the same could be said of imitation rolls on Pesach).
Crave, a popular restaurant in Jerusalem that serves kosher cheeseburgers and kosher bacon among other things, wrote about a new policy by the Jerusalem rabbinate on the matter. Because of the rabbinate they need to stop calling it bacon and instead use the term facon (from the conjunction of the two words fake and bacon) since the term bacon is synonymous with a non-kosher food. Presumably the cheeseburgers will have to become soyburgers on the menu of Crave according to this rationale.
Believe it or not, Crave will not be the first ones to use the term kosher facon. Jack’s Gourmet, a Brooklyn-based company, also sells “Kosher Delicious and Kosher Facon Cured Beef” which is cured to taste like bacon.
The Talmud (Chulin 109b) describes certain permitted items which taste exactly like forbidden items, but they have different names and this may be why the rabbinate insisted that “kosher bacon” be designated as kosher facon.