Saturday, March 11, 2006

Laxity; Laziness; Lack of Honor

You should read this entire article on kosher slaughtering problems but I'll just excerpt the parts I found relevant to my concerns:

March 10, 2006
Inquiry Finds Lax Federal Inspections at Kosher Meat Plant

An internal report from the Agriculture Department has found that one of the nation's leading kosher slaughterhouses violated animal cruelty laws and that government inspectors not only failed to stop the inhumane practices but also took improper gifts of meat from plant managers.

At issue was a "second cut" the plant formerly made.

Under Jewish law, an animal cannot be considered kosher if it is stunned before it is killed. The Humane Slaughter Act of 1978 requires stunning in all American slaughterhouses, but has an exception for religious slaughter, as long as the animal's neck is cut swiftly and no "carcass dressing" is done before the animal is insensible.

But at AgriProcessors, a second worker would step in after the first cut by the shochet, or ritual slaughterer. He would use a knife to open the animal's neck further and reach in with a hook to pull out the trachea and esophagus, with the carotid arteries attached. This was done to speed bleeding; kosher meat must contain as little blood as possible.

The report also describes multiple incidents in which plant employees gave inspectors packages of chicken wings, steaks, turkey, sausage or beef bacon. Although it was sometimes delivered with the words "Here's your sample, Doc," as if it were for laboratory tests, the inspectors sometimes cooked and ate it on the spot.

While the report describes accepting such gifts as "misconduct" and "very serious," investigators concluded that no bribery was involved, a department spokesman said.

The report also described an inspector sleeping as obviously infected chickens came down the line and doing inspections with his hands pocketed instead of checking meat for contamination as required. A supervisor was described as spending hours in the office playing hearts on the government computer.

The plant is at the center of a 2000 book, "Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America," by Stephen G. Bloom, which described the tensions in the tiny farming town between residents and Hasidic Jews from Brooklyn who took over its defunct slaughterhouse in 1987.

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