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Postville, IA - PETA New Undercover Video Accusations: Agriprocessors Doing Inhumane Slaughter

Published on: September 4, 2008 10:06 PM
By: NY Times
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Postville, IA - An animal rights organization secretly recorded a video last month in the slaughterhouse of a kosher meatpacking plant in Iowa and presented it to the Department of Agriculture, claiming it showed inhumane practices in the killing of cattle.

The brief video, about four minutes long, was recorded on Aug. 13 without the knowledge of managers in the Postville, Iowa, plant of Agriprocessors, the nation’s largest kosher meatpacker, by a representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, according to Hannah Schein, investigations specialist for the group, known as PETA.

She said the video showed three instances in which Agriprocessors workers made unauthorized hacking cuts in the necks of still-conscious animals.

Department of Agriculture officials confirmed today that they had examined the PETA video and said inspectors from the department’s Food Safety Inspection Service based at the plant had subsequently witnessed at least one similar violation.

But the inspectors determined the violations were “not egregious,” said the inspection service spokeswoman, Amanda Eamich. She said the plant was currently in full compliance with humane slaughter regulations.

The new video reprises a confrontation between PETA and Agriprocessors in 2004, when a representative of the animal rights group worked undercover in the plant for seven weeks. A video that PETA released then prompted a six-month investigation by the Department of Agriculture, which reported many violations of animal cruelty laws at the plant.


After that report, Agriprocessors changed its slaughter practices, responding to pressure from agriculture officials and from Orthodox Union kosher certification authorities. More recently the company was once again the center of controversy after nearly 400 illegal immigrants were detained at the Postville plant in a raid in May.

In August, PETA sent a representative to work clandestinely in the Postville plant for one week, Ms. Schein said, after about two dozen Orthodox rabbis and leaders visited the plant in late July and praised its kosher slaughter practices as state-of-the-art.

The new PETA video was recorded in the plant’s beef kill room, which is equipped with a bin that turns the animals upside down and exposes their throats. Following Jewish dietary laws, the animals are killed by rabbis specializing in ritual slaughter who make one long cut across the throat. This type of religious slaughter is allowed under exemptions in federal animal cruelty laws.

Under the regulations, a “second cut” in an animal’s throat can be made only in exceptional cases by rabbis or under their supervision. These cuts are sometimes made to speed blood flow from the animals.

Temple Grandin, a livestock handling expert cited by PETA, said the second cuts shown on the August video, which appeared to have been performed by nonreligious workers without rabbis present, would “definitely cause the animal pain.” She called on the Department of Agriculture to install monitoring videos in the kill rooms.

Ms. Eamich, the spokeswoman for the Food Safety Inspection Service, said Agriprocessors had agreed to suspend any second cuts until it received approval from kosher certifying authorities and the Agriculture Department.

A spokesman for Agriprocessors, Menachem Lubinsky, said kosher slaughter was handled by Orthodox Jewish certifying authorities at the plant and company managers were not directly involved. Kosher authorities are working with food inspectors to clarify when the second cut can be used, Mr. Lubinsky said.


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Read Comments (25)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 04, 2008 at 10:18 PM Anonymous Says:

if shechita is ever banned in the usa, we can thank the rubashkins, lubinsky, lewin, the ou, r'weissmandel, and everyone else that is an enabler here.


 Sep 04, 2008 at 10:36 PM Anonymous Says:

During shechita, the carotid arteries, which are the main supplier of blood to the brain, are severed. This results in an immediate and massive drop in blood pressure, which renders the animal insensate in a matter of seconds. At AgriProcessors, Inc., as at other plants, a second cut is made in the carotid arteries to facilitate and accelerate the bleeding. This secondary cut is both approved and encouraged by the USDA. The OU and AgriProcessors, Inc. have concluded that this cut will now be made without excising the trachea.
past posting on ou site


 Sep 04, 2008 at 10:37 PM Who_me Says:

Who's talking about banning Shechita?
The issue here is the second cut, which is done to speed the blood draining, in order to minimize blood-stains on the meat.
But, if what the article says is true, then the solution is to have the rabbis supervise it. As simple as that! No enabler, No banning, & No nonsense!


 Sep 04, 2008 at 10:39 PM Anonymous Says:

.With the act of shechita, it is common to cut the carotid arteries, a
practice designed to facilitate bleeding and accelerate
unconsciousness. Excision of the trachea, however, is not common
practice. We wish to make clear that nothing in any such post-shechita
"second cut" or excision in any way undermines the validity of the
shechita itself or the kosher status of the slaughtered animal's meat.
We further note that regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture
explicitly approve a second cut to facilitate bleeding.Rabbi Yisroel Belsky
Halachic Consultant
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Rabbi Sholem Fishbane
Kashruth Administrator
Chicago Rabbinical Council

Rabbi Menachem Genack
Rabbinic Administrator
Kashrus Division
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

Rabbi Asher Hatchuel
Rabbinic Head
Sephardic Beth Din of America

Rabbi Moshe Heinemann
Rabbinic Administrator
Star-K Certification

Rabbi Emanuel Holzer
Chairman, Kashrus Committee
Rabbinical Council of America

Rabbi Chaim Kohn
Rabbinic Administrator
Khal Adas Jeshurun

Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz
Head of Beth Din
Chicago Rabbinical Council

Rabbi Yitzchok Stein
Rabbinic Head
Beth Din of Karlsburg

Rabbi Yechiel Steinmetz
Rabbinic Judge
Monsey, NY

Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum
Nirbater Rav
Rabbinic Supervisor
Alle Processing Corporation

Rabbi Menachem Meir Weissmandl
Rabbinic Head
Nitra Beth Din of Monsey


 Sep 04, 2008 at 10:41 PM Learn Your Facts Says:

It is actually just the opposite.


 Sep 04, 2008 at 10:42 PM Anonymous Says:

I am the parent of an autistic individual so I respect those with disabilities.
The article quotes the opinion of Temple Grandin. Considering that Ms Grandin is very autistic I am not sure that she said and meant exactly what is atributed to her. her expertise is in designing the path the animals follow not in knowing what physical pain they feel.


 Sep 04, 2008 at 11:26 PM wow Says:

temple is autistic (maybe from the mmr) she claims she can feel on her throat the pain of the animal during schita... gi gleib ier... I think obama should consider taking her as vp running mate in 12....


 Sep 04, 2008 at 11:30 PM Anonymous Says:

Dr. Grandin is a Phd in animal behavior. She is quite expert in understanding signs of animal distress.


 Sep 04, 2008 at 11:46 PM Vote McCain - Palin In 08! Says:

Who me?

Yeah you! GET IT THRU YOUR HEAD, THEY WANT TO BAN SH'CHITA. That will be followed by banning all meat. They are a bunch of wakkos.

I say we should shecht them. Tell them its an experiment to see if they feel pain. Considering PITA yemach shmom v'zichrom is a pain, I wonder if they feel it.

Anon 1042p,
Temple Grandin has a way to be one with the animal and she is able to feel the pain that the animal feels. I say she is ingantzin mshiga in kup aran!

Part of the problem here is that we keep making excuses for sh'chita instead of saying something like, "We do Sh'chita this way because this what that HKBH told Moshe Rabaynu on Har Sinai. If you have a problem with it, please die and take it up with G-d Himself." Thats all. No excuses. Enough.


 Sep 04, 2008 at 11:52 PM x218 Says:

peta y"machshmum... no one will stop our laws.. of they would say this to the arabs, nobody at peta would still have a head...


 Sep 05, 2008 at 12:02 AM tsvika55 Says:

ppl shold daven for rubashkis and not constantly attac them...


 Sep 05, 2008 at 12:59 AM Shvitzer Says:

Something tells me that G-D is angry at the Rubashkins or maybe us ?


 Sep 05, 2008 at 01:26 AM Yid Says:

It seeems to me like the Schein's are the big instigators here. While boasting to the world of their practicing Jew status (which gives more credence to their "worthy cause", they secretly go and incite problems for kosher establishments. You want to be a vegetarian, fine, but don't go mosering and jeapordizing the entire Kosher shechita market with your self-rightousness!


 Sep 05, 2008 at 01:29 AM PRL Says:

This is NOT about shechitah. This is about an unnecessary "second cut" perfomed after shechitah which the OU's Rabbi Genack said is done only for "commercial reasons". It has no religious purpose. Further, the New York Times article says that the gouging second cut was done by a layperson, a "nonreligious workers" (not a shochet). So the issue has nothing to do with shechitah. Agriprocessors is violating tza'ar baalei chayim - they are causing suffering unncessarily just for the sake of commercial purposes alone. This is shameful.


 Sep 05, 2008 at 05:47 AM anonymous Says:

I can't believe that you are missing the point completely. Rubashkin said he would stop the second cut. Everyone said he would stop the second cut.

He didn't.


 Sep 05, 2008 at 07:30 AM PETA Says:

With all due respect, Who cares about PETA?

They want to ban Kaporos.

They want to ban Shechita.

This is not the fault of Meat companies. PETA doesn't announce this, but read their stuff, what they are after is having people eat NO MEAT.

They ran an ad last year showing chickens in a pen, and in photo shop made them look like Jewish prisoners behind barbed wire in a Nazi Concentration Camp.

There was huge outrage. But that's PETA.

What's sad, is to see how many otherwise NORMAL Jews fall for what they say. It's shameful how Jews will bend over backward to put down another Jewish family, in the face of such a disgusting, extreme, whacked out group that nobody takes seriously.

Come on, people.

Oh, by the way Hitler also valued animals over people. Where did that lead?


 Sep 05, 2008 at 09:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Its true that the only thing they want to do is ban shichta!!! the reason the Rubashkins have to suffer is because its the only kosher JEWISH owned slautherhouse in the U.S.A. the rest DONT have there own place, they shecht by non jewish


 Sep 05, 2008 at 09:23 AM David Says:

Maybe its time for frum Jews to become vegetarians until we learn how to treat both animals, and our fellow humans with concern, dignity and deceny, and then we will be deserving to eat meat again.


 Sep 05, 2008 at 10:43 AM willamsburg jew Says:

tomorrow they will come ban kappros again if they will succeed we may chas vshalom see live before yom tov hom hanna & philip yidel shain record with tv camera and pist it for peta hashem yishmor


 Sep 05, 2008 at 11:37 AM understand nisht Says:

willamsburg jew I don't get you in your words is Philp and hanna shain related to yidal sahin?


 Sep 05, 2008 at 12:06 PM Anonymous Says:

PRL: If the second cut is done after the shechita, isn't the animal dead?


 Sep 05, 2008 at 01:09 PM Shloimy Says:

PETA is also the organization that had nothing to say about Arab terror attacks against Jews, until they once placed a suicide bomb on a donkey! THEN they protested vehemently.

So to PETA, it is acceptable to kill, maim and terrorize human beings, but just don't hurt any animals.

They are also against using animals to do medical tests that can result in saving human lives.

Why should anyone care what PETA has to say? I don't.


 Sep 05, 2008 at 02:00 PM Genius Says:

To all you meat lovers out there (or should i say stomach lovers) - Do you think that causing an animal even a small amount of pain is acceptable?
The issur of Tzar Baali Chaim is there for a purpose. When the world was created we weren't allowed to eat meat! It was only after Noach was it permitted.

Just because we are now allowed to (or maybe even commanded to) now eat meat, doesn't detract from the fact that we should still be as humane as we can in regard to animals, shechita & eating meat. I don't agree with PETA, but it doesn't mean we have free reign to treat animals with no respect.


 Sep 05, 2008 at 04:28 PM PETA_who Says:

Who gives a hoot what PETA says? they are immoral brainless activists, a.k.a. 'toothless animals'.
The USDA has inspectors in every slaughterhouse & nothing there is inhumane or Tzaar Balei Chaim.
The Shechita method, which is Halocho L'Moshe M'Sinai, renders the animal dead once the greater half of the 2 simonim were severed, which occurs before the arteries are cut.


 Sep 05, 2008 at 06:11 PM moving to the Left Says:

There were many Rabbis who frowned upon kaparos. What's the big mitzva in taking a (frightened) chicken and swinging it over your head? It seems that a good potion of the frum world are not rachmanim on Hashem's creations. Shame on you.


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