The sale of hot dogs described as “Kosher Style” by Five Guys Enterprises LLC may violate a Washington state law that describes what food products may be labeled kosher, according to a blogger for George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley’s blog. Darren Smith, a former deputy sheriff in Washington, writes that Five Guys advertises one of its products as a “Kosher Style” hot dog because, according to the company’s Website, “the dogs are cooked on the same grill as our burgers,” even though “the way we cook them and serve them is not [kosher].”

This label may violate Washington’s RCW 69.90.020(1), which states, “No person may knowingly sell or offer for sale any food product represented as ‘kosher’ or ‘kosher style’ when that person knows that the food product is not kosher and when the representation is likely to cause a prospective purchaser to believe that it is kosher,” with kosher defined as “a food product which has been prepared, processed, manufactured, maintained, and sold in accordance with the requisites of traditional Jewish dietary law.” Any person, partnership, corporation, or association found in violation of the section is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.

Arguing that the law unduly criminalizes seemingly innocuous behavior, Smith points out the difficulties of abiding by state laws while operating a business in several states when “serving something as ordinary as a hot dog might possibly constitute a crime; it can make any business worry.” For more information on the constitutionality of such kosher labeling laws, see Issue 439 of this Update. See Jonathan Turley, June 14, 2014.