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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarianism in the News


May 1, 2007 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

CNBC Exposes Emes Kosher Products

See a video of A Puff Piece

Just when Emes Kosher Products seemed to be relegated to the "Cold Case" file and its officers had disappeared "Without a Trace," the company and its misdeeds have resurfaced in a special report first aired on CNBC on May 2 at 10:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time and 1:00 a.m. on the East Coast. The program was repeated at other times during the month. For a schedule of showings, consult the website at http://www.cnbc.com/id/16586545/site/14081545/

A feature called "A Puff Piece" is one segment of the cable channnel's "Business Nation." CNBC publicity for the program touts the segment as follows:

    A PUFF PIECE

    It may seem as though it's based on pure puffery, but the marshmallow industry is rock solid. From campfire treats to Easter Peeps, more than $150 million worth of marshmallows are sold every year. That number could be much higher if not for one thing: marshmallows contain gelatin, an animal byproduct, and so strict vegetarians can't eat them. But the search for the holy grail of the vegetarian world--a non-animal based marshmallow--is a delectable story everyone will enjoy!

    As Jane Wells reports, it includes two earnest entrepreneurs who suffered financial ruin, a mysterious businessman who disappeared without a trace, and an army of vegetarians in search of one sweet treat.

    When Vegetarians in Paradise wrote about the demise of the company in August 2005, we described how Emes Kosher Products virtually slipped away in the dead of night after years of deceiving people about its Kosher Jel they claimed was vegetarian, even vegan.

    VIP efforts to mount a letter-writing campaign to persuade the Illinois Attorney General's office to find and prosecute the petty crooks of this deceitful company was blazingly unsuccessful. We later learned that the office claimed they received only seven letters about Emes Kosher Products. Too bad the vegetarian community could not channel its outrage over this matter into writing letters to the attorney general.

    How many letters does it take to change a light bulb, or, in this case, investigate deceit and fraud? The few people who did write letters received inappropriate form responses from the attorney general's office that didn't even address the issue of fraud. Instead the letter said:

      "The consumer protection division, of the office of Attorney General has received your consumer complaint. A copy of your complaint has been forwarded to the above named business for their review and response.

      "The business may contact you about a possible settlement after they receive our letter. We encourage you to consider any reasonable offer. If the business responds directly to our office, a copy of their response will be mailed to you.

      "This is an informal mediation proicess. We are unable to represent private citizens in legal disputes."

    But why has the Emes affair resurfaced in 2007? Freelance journalist Elizabeth Jensen who has written for the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times came across the VIP stories when she Googled to find information about vegan marshmallows. What she read motivated her to pitch the story to CNBC. They liked the idea, and dispatched camera crews to interview the principal characters in the tale.

    Those interviews took the crew to New York, Florida, Loma Linda in California, and Vegparadise in Los Angeles. In New York they interviewed Sara Sohn of Sweet and Sara who used Emes Kosher Jel as an ingredient in what she believed were her vegan marshmallows. In Florida they listened to Ming Tran of the now-defunct Vegan Supreme Marshmallows who was duped by Emes and closed down her business because her marshmallows were not vegan. In Loma Linda the crew filmed Dr. Kenneth Burke, professor of nutrition and dietetics, who had been questioning the authenticity of the Emes Kosher Jel for years.

    Jensen and the film crew spent six hours at Vegparadise on March 22 interviewing us about our role in the Emes affair. In the course of the interview, we expressed our disappointment with the attorney general's office in not bringing the Emes mob to justice.

    With the airing of the program, the Emes story could take a new direction or just slink away into the night as the company did. Hopefully, the outrage of vegetarians and vegans won't allow that to happen and will spark a cry for justice in this matter.

    The Illinois Attorney General's office can be contacted at:

    Office of the Attorney General
    Consumer Protection Division
    100 West Randolph Street
    Chicago, IL 60601

    RE: Emes Kosher
    File No: 2005-CONSC-00129394

    As new developments unfold in L'affaire Emes, Vegparadise will warm up this "Cold Case" by relaying the savory details to our readers.

    For background information on the Emes matter, read our three stories:
    Emes Kosher Jel Flunks Gelatin Test
    Emes Holds Smoking Gun
    Emes Kosher Products Goes Belly Up



    Vegetarians in Paradise

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