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December 01, 2004
"Grisly" kosher slaughterhouse footage
covered in NY Times and International Herald Tribune

The New York Times, and the International Herald Tribune have covered PETA's latest undercover investigation, in a Wednesday, December 1, article headed, "Videos Cited in Calling Kosher Slaughterhouse Inhumane" (Page A21) in the Times and "Video lifts lid on Slaughterhouse Practices" in the International Herald Tribune.

Donald G. McNeil Jr's article opens:

"An animal rights group released grisly undercover videotapes yesterday showing steers in a major kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa staggering and bellowing long after their throats were cut."

We learn that "The plant is the country's largest producer of meat certified as glatt kosher."

And,

"On the 30-minute tape, each animal is placed in a rotating drum so it can be killed while upside down, as required by Orthodox rabbis in Israel.  Immediately after the ritual slaughterer, or shochet, has slit the throat, another worker tears open each steer's neck with a hook and pulls out the trachea and esophagus. The drum turns, and the steer is dumped on the floor.  One after another, animals with dangling windpipes stand up or try to; in one case, death takes three minutes.

"In most kosher plants, animals are tightly penned while their throats are slashed, and the organs are not torn; tearing by the shochet is forbidden under Jewish law. In nonkosher plants, animals by law must be made unconscious before they are killed....Federal law views properly conducted religious slaughter as humane, and so allows Jewish and Muslim slaughterhouses to forgo stunning."

The article covers a discussion amongst rabbis as to whether such killings are truly kosher. With regard to cruelty, we read "Rabbi Chaim Kohn, of the AgriProcessors plant, says the steers feel nothing, even as they struggle on the floor and slam their heads into walls."

However Dr. Temple Grandin, probably the best known designer of slaughter plants that attempt to be humane is quoted.  She called it ''an atrocious abomination, nothing like I've seen in 30 kosher plants I've visited here and in England, France, Ireland and Canada."  On the tearing she commented, "Nothing in the Humane Slaughter Act says you can start dismembering an animal while it's still conscious."

We read that PETA has posted the tapes at http://GoVeg.com  and "demanded that the plant be prosecuted for animal cruelty and decertified by the kosher authorities. While the group advocates vegetarianism, it accepts that shechita can be relatively painless, said Bruce Friedrich, a spokesman."

You can read the whole article on the New York Times website at: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/30/national/30cnd-kosh.html and the International Herald Tribune website at: http://www.iht.com/articles/2004/12/01/news/kosher.html

It gives a great opportunity to thank the papers for the coverage (complimentary letters are far more likely to be printed than those critical of a publication) and to advocate vegetarianism.

The Times takes letters at: letters@nytimes.com 

The IHT takes letters at: letters@iht.com

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.


Yours and the animals',
 Karen Dawn