PETA slaughterhouse video stirs dispute over kosher standards
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, December 2004:
POSTVILLE, Iowa–AgriProcessors Inc., the only U.S.
slaughterhouse authorized to export meat to Israel, agreed on
December 7, 2004 to cease ripping the trachea and esophagus out of
cattle immediately after their throats are cut, and to use a captive
bolt gun to dispatch cattle who try to regain their footing after the
throat-cutting. Meat from those cattle will no longer be sold as
AgriProcessors, marketing under the name “Aaron’s Best,”
denied that pulling the windpipes out of living cattle was part of
their killing routine, but workers were shown doing it in a
30-minute undercover video released by PETA on November 30. A PETA
staff member worked at AgriProcessors for seven weeks during the
summer of 2004.
Kosher experts disagreed as to whether the throat-tearing met
kosher requirements. Orthodox Union chief rabbis Menachem Genack and
Yisroel Blsky said it was “gruesome” but kosher; Orthodox Union
executive vice president Tzvi Hersh Weinreb called it “especially
inhumane” and “generally unacceptable”; Shiumon Cohen of the British
organization Shchita U.K. said it was not kosher; and Ezra Raful,
chief of international slaughter supevision for the chief rabbinate
of Israel, told the Jerusalem Post that technically the slaughter
was kosher, but definitely did not follow recommended practice.
Colorado State University professor Temple Grandin, who
designed the double-rail restraint system now used in most U.S.
kosher slaughterhouses, called the throat-ripping “An atrocious
abomination, nothing like I’ve seen in 30 kosher plants I’ve visited
in the U.S., England, France, Ireland, and Canada.”
Originally a conventional slaughterhouse, the AgriProcessors
plant was purchased in 1987 by a Hasidic group from Brooklyn, New
York, and converted to perform kosher slaughter to the glatt
(highest) standard. The transition was topic of a book, Postville:
A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America, by Stephen G. Bloom (2000).