"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


Investigation of Kosher Deer Slaughterhouse

Another kosher slaughterhouse is under fire for animal welfare abuses based on a PETA investigation. (Surely you'll remember AgriProcessors and Local Pride.) This time, it's Musicon, a kosher deer slaughterhouse in Goshen, N.Y. "Immediately after shechita, the assistant would slam the pen door shut to keep the deer from thrashing; some dying animals had their heads squeezed between the frame and the door. The deer were conscious for up to a minute and a half after shechita and one was dragged away while still conscious, as confirmed by Dr. [Temple] Grandin," says PETA VP Bruce Friedrich. Click here to watch the disturbing video from the undercover investigation.

Dr. Grandin, a leading expert on farmed animal welfare and humane slaughter systems (including for kosher slaughter), was quoted in a Failed Messiah post as saying, "[T]here are some definite problems with the restrainer and procedures. The collapse time was really slow due to a poor cut. ... There is not enough space for a good cut. ... The third deer was definitely not fully insensible when it was pulled out of the restrainer by its ears." Dr. Grandin advises that Musicon should do all the following in order to ensure humane treatment of animals:
Better clearance for the rabbi’s knife.
A neck and back holder so a person does not have to kneel on the back of the animals.
Do not hold the head in position by holding the ears.
Never use the ears to move a sensible animal.
Design change may be needed to reduce struggling in the box. I could not see how the restrainer and leading chute was constructed in the rear.
The deer must be fully insensible before it is dragged out of the box.
Making these changes will improve the rapid collapse time.

All this is, of course, pretty upsetting, but there are three things here that seem particularly troubling:

1. Because deer are wild animals, they are not protected under the Humane Slaughter Act. No matter how abusive their treatment is, it's not illegal under federal law.
2. In a recent period prior to the investigation, 18 out of 25 (72 percent) deer slaughtered at Musicon were apparently deemed traif. This means that, for that period at least, the vast majority of deer shechted then can't even be served to kosher consumers, which seems to defeat the purpose of subjecting them to shechita. (One heebnvegan reader recently showed me commentary by Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz that says that about 70 percent of shechted animals aren't deemed kosher and up to 95 percent of shechted animals aren't deemed glatt kosher.)
3. In the big picture, this investigation reveals the unwillingness or inability of kosher certification agencies (e.g., the Orthodox Union) to prevent tza'ar ba'alei chayim (unnecessary animal suffering) in kosher slaughterhouses. "Here we have another example of animal abuse and rabbis stand by and apparently do nothing," noted Failed Messiah's Shmarya Rosenberg in a comment following his blog post. In response to a criticism of this issue because it was brought to light by PETA, another commenter wrote, "[S]how me a Jewish group that is doing the same job exposing the chillul haShem than is regularly occurring at kosher slaughter houses." Unfortunately, there apparently is no group within the Jewish community that goes inside slaughterhouses and exposes the abuses done in the name of kosher slaughter. And there certainly doesn't seem to be much being done by the authorities in the kosher meat industry to fix the problem either.


  • At 9/08/2007 10:07 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    If not for sites such as yours, Michael, and for the courageous undercover videos from PETA, the average Jewish consumer would never learn of these violations of Kashrus slaughter. Obviously, it must be more comfortable to "Not Know". But we do know. And more importantly, every citizen of Planet Earth who mourns and cares deeply for any instance of pain and brutal death brought upon a helpless animal, finds this an across -the board moral violation and shame on all humankind. Thanks for speaking up and sharing - Its up to "us" to join with our voices for compassion now.

  • At 9/09/2007 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    you have a great page

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