RUBASHKIN SCANDAL: The Forward Reports

USDA Slaps Kosher Slaughterhouse

One of the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouses was censured by the
United States Department of Agriculture for using inhumane methods in
its slaughtering process.

AgriProcessors, a Chabad-Lubavitch-owned slaughterhouse in Postville,
Iowa, was criticized in an internal report by the Department of
Agriculture and later warned about its methods in a letter from the
department. Since then, the procedures in question have been changed.

The slaughterhouse drew attention from the government in 2004 after an
animal rights organization released an undercover video showing
gruesome footage of cows being killed at the plant. AgriProcessors has
faced questions from the Orthodox Union’s kosher division and criticism
from the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly. The
slaughterhouse has made some changes to its operations, but it has
defended its old methods as consistent with kosher law — which aims to
minimize suffering for the animal, among other things. The newly
released report says the company had "engaged in acts of inhumane
slaughter."

The internal report, which was written in April 2005 but only released
this week, also criticizes the Agriculture Department inspectors who
worked at the plant for ignoring the violations. According to the
report, inspectors were playing computer games and sleeping on the job.
The government decided not to pursue criminal action against
AgriProcessors or against the inspectors.

A lawyer who represents AgriProcessors, Nathan Lewin, said the report
makes it clear that everything done at the plant was approved by the
Agriculture Department until the animal rights organization People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals made the video.

"The body of the report has got a lot of stuff that indicates that no
one thought that there was anything inhumane," Lewin said. "It’s only
because it looks bad that PETA is able to exploit it."

AgriProcessors was founded by a group of Lubavitch Hasidim who moved
from Brooklyn to northern Iowa in 1987 to revive the meat-packing
plant, which had been shut down. Since then, AgriProcessors, which
sells under the labels Rubashkin’s and Aaron’s Best, has become the
country’s single largest supplier of glatt kosher meat —? and the only
one that is approved for import into Israel (though Israel currently
does not import meat from America because of concerns about mad cow
disease).

The slaughterhouse’s recent problems began when PETA released its
videotape, which was made by an undercover operative at the plant. The
tape showed steers limping around the slaughterhouse floor — in some
cases for more than a minute after their throats had been slit. The
footage that generated the most criticism involved a so-called "trachea
rip": The cow’s trachea and esophagus were pulled out with a hook while
the cow was still walking, in order to enhance bleeding.

A number of ultra-Orthodox agencies have stood by AgriProcessors’
methods. Initially the O.U. supported the plant, but then pushed it to
eliminate the trachea rip, which the plant did. In cooperation with the
O.U. and the Agriculture Department, AgriProcessors also introduced a
stun gun that immediately kills animals not rendered unconscious after
the first cut. These animals are processed for nonkosher sale.

The director of kosher certification at the O.U., Rabbi Menachem
Genack, said his organization has sent an inspector to the Iowa plant
every other month since the controversy began. The O.U. is satisfied
with the slaughtering process now used by AgriProcessors — although
Genack said he still has questions about the rotating pen used at the
plant, which turns the animal upside down before its throat is slit.
The rotating pen is required for a plant to be certified kosher in
Israel, but the O.U. has endorsed the use of a pen that keeps the
animal upright.

The rotating pen was also at the center of a letter written last year
by the president of the R.A., Rabbi Perry Rank. The assembly had
encouraged slaughterhouses to abandon the rotating pen. Rank wrote,
"When a company purporting to be kosher violates the prohibition
against tza’ar ba’alei hayyim, causing pain to one of God’s living creatures, that company must answer to the Jewish community, and ultimately, to God."

A spokesman for AgriProcessors said that the kosher status of the meat
never has been in question, but he acknowledged that "every process can
be improved. The modifications we made improved the process."

The O.U.’s Genack said he was happy with AgriProcessors’ response to
the O.U.’s concerns. However, he understands why the proceedings have
become so emotionally charged.

"Any way of killing animals is not going to be a pretty sight," Genack
said. "The notion that this is some sanitized easy procedure ?— no
matter what system is used — it’s not. But I’m happy that we changed
the procedure."

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4 Comments

Filed under Kosher Meat Scandal

4 responses to “RUBASHKIN SCANDAL: The Forward Reports

  1. Neo-Conservaguy

    “The director of kosher certification at the O.U., Rabbi Menachem Genack, said his organization has sent an inspector to the Iowa plant every other month since the controversy began. The O.U. is satisfied with the slaughtering process now used by AgriProcessors — although Genack said he still has questions about the rotating pen used at the plant, which turns the animal upside down before its throat is slit. The rotating pen is required for a plant to be certified kosher in Israel, but the O.U. has endorsed the use of a pen that keeps the animal upright.”

    Holy Moses – why haven’t I seen that statement from Genack before? This is a complete reversal of the initial OU stance on the situation at the plant…! Too bad he feels compelled to follow up that amazing statement with the generic bullshit about slaughter is never pretty. Well, duh, but that’s not the point, so let’s put that silly straw man back in your tallis bag, OK?

  2. Jath

    these people are kussim with a hidden idol in their worship arch ! so their shechita and their motives will never work !

  3. A hidden idol in their worship arch? What do you mean by that? And, what are kussim?

  4. Neo-Conservaguy

    Kussim is a term for Shomronim/Samaritans. The Samaritans were a curious offshoot of Judaism that combined an interest in written Torah (they opposed the “Oral Torah” concept) with idol worship (!). I didn’t write the comment, but I believe the implication of using that term is related to the idol worship of the Samaritans (i.e. “The Rebbe”).

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RUBASHKIN SCANDAL: The Forward Reports

USDA Slaps Kosher Slaughterhouse

One of the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouses was censured by the
United States Department of Agriculture for using inhumane methods in
its slaughtering process.

AgriProcessors, a Chabad-Lubavitch-owned slaughterhouse in Postville,
Iowa, was criticized in an internal report by the Department of
Agriculture and later warned about its methods in a letter from the
department. Since then, the procedures in question have been changed.

The slaughterhouse drew attention from the government in 2004 after an
animal rights organization released an undercover video showing
gruesome footage of cows being killed at the plant. AgriProcessors has
faced questions from the Orthodox Union’s kosher division and criticism
from the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly. The
slaughterhouse has made some changes to its operations, but it has
defended its old methods as consistent with kosher law — which aims to
minimize suffering for the animal, among other things. The newly
released report says the company had "engaged in acts of inhumane
slaughter."

The internal report, which was written in April 2005 but only released
this week, also criticizes the Agriculture Department inspectors who
worked at the plant for ignoring the violations. According to the
report, inspectors were playing computer games and sleeping on the job.
The government decided not to pursue criminal action against
AgriProcessors or against the inspectors.

A lawyer who represents AgriProcessors, Nathan Lewin, said the report
makes it clear that everything done at the plant was approved by the
Agriculture Department until the animal rights organization People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals made the video.

"The body of the report has got a lot of stuff that indicates that no
one thought that there was anything inhumane," Lewin said. "It’s only
because it looks bad that PETA is able to exploit it."

AgriProcessors was founded by a group of Lubavitch Hasidim who moved
from Brooklyn to northern Iowa in 1987 to revive the meat-packing
plant, which had been shut down. Since then, AgriProcessors, which
sells under the labels Rubashkin’s and Aaron’s Best, has become the
country’s single largest supplier of glatt kosher meat —? and the only
one that is approved for import into Israel (though Israel currently
does not import meat from America because of concerns about mad cow
disease).

The slaughterhouse’s recent problems began when PETA released its
videotape, which was made by an undercover operative at the plant. The
tape showed steers limping around the slaughterhouse floor — in some
cases for more than a minute after their throats had been slit. The
footage that generated the most criticism involved a so-called "trachea
rip": The cow’s trachea and esophagus were pulled out with a hook while
the cow was still walking, in order to enhance bleeding.

A number of ultra-Orthodox agencies have stood by AgriProcessors’
methods. Initially the O.U. supported the plant, but then pushed it to
eliminate the trachea rip, which the plant did. In cooperation with the
O.U. and the Agriculture Department, AgriProcessors also introduced a
stun gun that immediately kills animals not rendered unconscious after
the first cut. These animals are processed for nonkosher sale.

The director of kosher certification at the O.U., Rabbi Menachem
Genack, said his organization has sent an inspector to the Iowa plant
every other month since the controversy began. The O.U. is satisfied
with the slaughtering process now used by AgriProcessors — although
Genack said he still has questions about the rotating pen used at the
plant, which turns the animal upside down before its throat is slit.
The rotating pen is required for a plant to be certified kosher in
Israel, but the O.U. has endorsed the use of a pen that keeps the
animal upright.

The rotating pen was also at the center of a letter written last year
by the president of the R.A., Rabbi Perry Rank. The assembly had
encouraged slaughterhouses to abandon the rotating pen. Rank wrote,
"When a company purporting to be kosher violates the prohibition
against tza’ar ba’alei hayyim, causing pain to one of God’s living creatures, that company must answer to the Jewish community, and ultimately, to God."

A spokesman for AgriProcessors said that the kosher status of the meat
never has been in question, but he acknowledged that "every process can
be improved. The modifications we made improved the process."

The O.U.’s Genack said he was happy with AgriProcessors’ response to
the O.U.’s concerns. However, he understands why the proceedings have
become so emotionally charged.

"Any way of killing animals is not going to be a pretty sight," Genack
said. "The notion that this is some sanitized easy procedure ?— no
matter what system is used — it’s not. But I’m happy that we changed
the procedure."

4 Comments

Filed under Kosher Meat Scandal

4 responses to “RUBASHKIN SCANDAL: The Forward Reports

  1. Neo-Conservaguy

    “The director of kosher certification at the O.U., Rabbi Menachem Genack, said his organization has sent an inspector to the Iowa plant every other month since the controversy began. The O.U. is satisfied with the slaughtering process now used by AgriProcessors — although Genack said he still has questions about the rotating pen used at the plant, which turns the animal upside down before its throat is slit. The rotating pen is required for a plant to be certified kosher in Israel, but the O.U. has endorsed the use of a pen that keeps the animal upright.”

    Holy Moses – why haven’t I seen that statement from Genack before? This is a complete reversal of the initial OU stance on the situation at the plant…! Too bad he feels compelled to follow up that amazing statement with the generic bullshit about slaughter is never pretty. Well, duh, but that’s not the point, so let’s put that silly straw man back in your tallis bag, OK?

  2. Jath

    these people are kussim with a hidden idol in their worship arch ! so their shechita and their motives will never work !

  3. A hidden idol in their worship arch? What do you mean by that? And, what are kussim?

  4. Neo-Conservaguy

    Kussim is a term for Shomronim/Samaritans. The Samaritans were a curious offshoot of Judaism that combined an interest in written Torah (they opposed the “Oral Torah” concept) with idol worship (!). I didn’t write the comment, but I believe the implication of using that term is related to the idol worship of the Samaritans (i.e. “The Rebbe”).

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