With Passover less than two weeks away, more than 500 businesses have been visited by state officials charged with making sure delis, supermarkets and other stores are adhering to regulations when selling products represented as kosher.

Many New Jerseyans will be stocking up on kosher foods in the coming days as they prepare for the Passover holiday, which begins at sundown on April 22.

According to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, since kosher is a religious designation with standards that differ between congregations, the state doesn't have any specific statutes or regulations defining kosher foods. However, state laws do require businesses that claim to sell kosher products to "prominently display posters" that indicate what that particular store or restaurant means by "kosher."

“Keeping kosher for Passover should not be a guessing game for New Jersey consumers,” Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy said in a statement. “Our laws require full transparency from businesses that offer kosher foods, so shoppers can make informed decisions on what to buy in preparation for this important Jewish holiday.”

According to the DCA, signs are required to indicate whether the food was approved by a rabbi or kosher organization and the name of the individuals. In addition, details on how often the stores are inspected are required as well as whether ingredients in food are kosher supervised as well.

State official also say stores that sell "Kosher for Passover" signs must display signage 30 days before the holiday.

“The signage must provide consumers with all the information they need to decide for themselves whether the kosher representation meets his or her personal standards for kosher food,’ said Steve Lee. Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “The Division inspects establishments year-round to ensure full disclosure in the sale of products represented as ‘kosher,’ ‘pareve,’ or other related designations.”

In addition, businesses that use or sell meat and poultry must let customers know how the animals were slaughtered, as well as how they were cut and prepared for sale.

Following inspections last year of 546 businesses selling kosher foods, the DCA says 10 businesses were cited for alleged violations for mislabeling food and improper signage.

The DCA has several resources for consumers who plan to purchase kosher foods this Passover season:

Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at toniann.antonelli@townsquaremedia.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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