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January 31, 2008

EXCLUSIVE:

USDA Allows Rubashkin Meat Hook Use to "Facilitate Bleeding"

Meat hook to probe or slash open throat wounds of fully conscious cattle "protected" by "religious" exemption to Humane Slaughter Act

Usda_fsis_letter_3 Documents (posted below) obtained by FailedMessiah.com under the Freedom of Information Act show that the USDA now permits probing or excision of an open ritual slaughter wound using a meat hook, even though the cattle this procedure is perfomed on are fully conscious at the time the procedure is carried out.

Further, even though internal USDA documents, made public here for the first time, show the USDA expects a "rabbi" will perform the meat hook procedure, in practice the USDA allows any plant employee, Jewish or not, trained or not, to carry it out.

The USDA ruled in an internal document (posted below) dated June 12, 2007 that use of a "node hook" (a small meat hook often called a boning hook) by a "rabbi" to "facilitate bleeding" falls under the religious exemption for ritual slaughter and can be done to fully conscious cattle.

The USDA was responding to complaints generated by a PETA undercover video taken at Rubashkin's Gordon, Nebraska, Local Pride, LLC plant. That video showed a non-Jewish worker probing the open throat wounds of fully conscious cattle with a meat hook seconds after slaughter.

The OU promised more than three years ago to stop using meat hooks in the open throat wounds of animals.

When caught using a smaller meat hook this spring, the OU denied a meat hook was used. Yet clearly a meat hook was used.

The USDA documents posted below note the plant has agreed to stop using the "node hook" and will not resume using it before notifying the USDA FSIS.

There is no provision made to notify consumers about the use of the "node hook."

After the story broke, I reported that the USDA had cleared Rubashkin because use of the meat hook (which the USDA then-called an "instrument") was protected under the religious exemption to the Humane Slaughter Act. The USDA FSIS chief spokesman Steven Cohen, apparently referencing the documents I've posted below, also wrote:

[A]t certain times, an instrument was used by a plant employee designated by the rabbi as a means of facilitating bleeding.  Clarification of the acceptability of this practice was sought and it was determined that this limited practice was acceptable as it is within the religious exemption provided for in the HMSA.

Yet the actual USDA FSIS document (posted below) clearly expects a "rabbi" will perform this procedure, and that the procedure is an integral part of the ritual slaughter itself, not a dressing procedure to benefit the plant:

Such a procedure performed by the rabbi is covered by the exemption or "bubble". Once the animal is rendered to a state of complete and continuous unconsciousness, plant processing of a ritually slaughtered animal may begin.

This summer, when the PETA video of Rubashkin's Gordon plant broke, Rabbi Seth Mandel of the the OU told me that the USDA had ordered throat probing with the meat hook, not the rabbis. This was false.

Rabbi Mandel also claimed the procedure was not a part of the ritual slaughter process.

I also spoke this summer with USDA FSIS inspectors about this procedure. They said the USDA's veterinarian, Dr. York told them that:

[F]rom the moment the animal enters the slaughter box until the moment it is removed from that box, the USDA has nothing to say or do about what takes place. The USDA, Dr. York [said], does "not interfere with glatt kosher slaughter."

Of course, this was not the position of the USDA under any previous administration.

As first reported here more than three years ago, rabbis – including leaders of the OU, Star-K, CRC (Chicago), and Agudath israel – successfully lobbied the Bush Administration in October of 2003 to have directives covering ritual slaughter weakened. The Bush Administration not only did what the rabbis wanted, it did more than the rabbis asked for, making it almost impossible for on site FSIS inspectors to stop a glatt kosher production line.

Indeed, under the formulation found in these newly obtained USDA FSIS documents, it would seem possible that even the egregious throat-ripping done at Rubashkin's Iowa plant and uncovered by PETA would now be considered humane by the Bush Administration's USDA.

The documents follow these pictures of the "node hook" in use at Local Pride, LLC, Rubashkin's Nebraska plant:

Rubashkin_hook_2_3_2

Rubashkin_hook_2_2

Most of the documents are posted below as JPEGs.

The complete set of documents is posted as a PDF file at the very bottom of the post.

If you're posting on this, please make sure to link to the post itself and not to the specific document. Also please make sure to credit FailedMessiah.com with a full, working link if you use any of the documents or the PDF.

Thank you.

Usda_fsis_emails

Usda_fsis_letter

Usda_fsis_letter_2


Usda_fsis_letter_hook_1

Usda_fsis_letter_hook_2

Usda_fsis_meat_hook_2

Download failedmessiah.com Rubashkin Gordon NE FOIA.pdf

Comments

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"Do you think I am a vegetarian for my health? It's because of the animals. For the animals, everyday is Treblinka."
Isaac Bashevis Singer

rubashkin makes me so proud to be a jew.

There is no "religious" purpose for the meat hook. In fact, use of the hook can rip the sirchot and make it impossible to properly check the animal's lungs. The only benefit is for Rubashkin's non-kosher business. Since the treife meat is not salted, the quality of the meat improves by "bleeding out" the animal.

steve –

You're basically correct, but the issue is not lack of salting for his treife output.

The Weinberg pen (upside down slaughter) agitates cattle so much their bleed out is drastically Impaired.

This lowers the quality of all Rubashkin meat.

However, only Rubashkin's non-kosher customers can do anything about that. They are not chained to Rubashkin the way kosher customers are. If the meat is full of bruises and blood clots, the non-kosher customers (mostly restaurants and supermarkets) will buy elsewhere.

To prevent this, Rubashkin used the meat hook in its various forms.

I should also add the use of a meat hook in Gordon, where the shechita is not upside down, points to other animal handling issues.

Washing the necks and combing the necks of cattle immediately before slaughter also agitates the cattle, though not as much as being tipped upside down and then dumped on a concrete floor does.

That combing and washing may be enough to impair bleed out.

It may also be Rubashkin's Gordon shochtim are not particularly good at what they do. This would also impair bleed out.

I stand corrected. But the main point is that there is nothing "religious" about using a meat hook. It is definitely not a part of ritual slaughter.

Also as I posted under the downed cows article, why does the USDA need to take into account only the haredi/rubash-in crows' take on what is kosher slaughter?

Is this why you were begging for donations so that you can dig up information about whether Rubashkin uses a meat hook? Lets put this in perspective, anyone that eats meat has accepted the notion that it is okay to cause pain to the animal for purposes of producing some rib steaks. Haven't tried it on myself, but I suspect that cutting the cows throat even if it is not followed by a meat hook is somewhat painful. So all your efforts and energies revolve on the use of a meat hook after the animals throat is cut, but while you believe it is still conscious and that this adds some degree of pain while presumably producing some benefit to the meat produced.

Dude face it. Animal slaughter is a messy and painful (to the animal) process. Unless you want to ban eating animals completely then we are accepting that we will make a cost benefit analysis whether the benefit justifies causing pain to the animal. Does use of the meat hook pass the cost benefit test? I have no clue, but this is not very high up on my list of things to figure out.

Next up on Shmarya's projects. A campaign to improve the welfare of slaughtered cows by advocating that Congress pass laws requiring:

1. That all cows be administered an anesthetic before slaughter.
2. All cows be offered a last meal of their choice before slaughter.
3. All cows be given the right to appeal their sentence before slaughter.
4. The remains of slaughtered cows be handled (and eaten) in a respectful manner.
5. All cows scheduled for slaughtered be allowed at least one conjugal visit prior to slaughter.

Those wishing to support this project should immediately donate your hard earned money to Shmarya. Donations are not tax deductible and no assurances can be given that Shmarya will report those donations to the IRS.

As it's been pointed ot MANY times on this site before Shmarya deletes the comment. Shmarya begged to get set up with Rubashkin's daughter when he was a fresh BT, but Rubashkin wouldnt hear of it because Shmarya was a nobody. The daughter got married Shmarya never did, thats where all the biterness comes from.

Anon, you have nothing to contribute to this thread which is relavant; either pro or con. Your logic on the 'con' side is skewed and ineffective. Your stab at gossip is absurd, even humorous and your attempt at humour falls utterly flat.
Whether you will believe this or not, there are more of us out here in the world than you think and we will make a difference. It may take time but we will persist and as I have said before WE WILL PREVAIL.
In the meantime your 'contributions' up the comments hits ( not sure of the proper term ). So keep shilling for the UberKike - WE LOVE IT!

--Your stab at gossip is absurd, even humorous and your attempt at humour falls utterly flat.--

Humorous but my attempts at humour falls utterly flat? You might want to try not contradicting yourself in the same sentence. You tend to look less like an idiot when you are not tripping all over youself.

"Whether you will believe this or not, there are more of us out here in the world than you think and we will make a difference."

I don't know who you are or what your belief is so I have not formed any observations as to how many of you there are out there.

Anon, quit while you think you are ahead.

As it's been pointed ot MANY times on this site before Shmarya deletes the comment. Shmarya begged to get set up with Rubashkin's daughter when he was a fresh BT, but Rubashkin wouldnt hear of it because Shmarya was a nobody. The daughter got married Shmarya never did, thats where all the biterness comes from.

This is absolutely false. I first met the Rubashkins AFTER all of Aaron's daughters were already married.

If you mean his granddaughters, the ones I knew then were about 6 years old.

What comments like Anon's this (and Anon's) prove is that, when unable to defend haredi practice using facts, they simply go to the gutter to mount a defense.

Truth is not important to them.

Dude face it. Animal slaughter is a messy and painful (to the animal) process. Unless you want to ban eating animals completely then we are accepting that we will make a cost benefit analysis whether the benefit justifies causing pain to the animal. Does use of the meat hook pass the cost benefit test? I have no clue, but this is not very high up on my list of things to figure out.

This rationalization is the same rubbish that MO rabbis tried to "feed" me when I first raised the issues in Postville. It's simple: kosher slaughter doesn't have to torture the animals to death, which is what you can observe in Postville, South America (shackle and hoist), and other high-volume kosher slaughter factories. Yes, it's bloody to kill an animal by cutting its throat, but if done properly, with good animal handling before and during slaughter, it can be a quick and far less painful and traumatic process than the chilul haShem occurring daily in Postville.

At a small Sunday schechting business for fowl many years ago. I got to hold the gooses legs while the rabbi did the throat- the animal went limp IMMEDIATELY.
This is kosher slaughter done right not that torture crap in Postville

--If you mean his granddaughters, the ones I knew then were about 6 years old.--

I never would have guessed that you are a pedophile!

--What comments like Anon's this (and Anon's) prove is that, when unable to defend haredi practice using facts, they simply go to the gutter to mount a defense.--

One slight problem to your theory, I'm not haredi.

You must be very bright, then, mimicing their tactics so perfectly …

Cruelty aside, isn't using a hook suffak nevalah?

The use of the Weinberg pen is generally believed to be a more humane form of slaughter in Israel. Because the animal is flipped upside down - an unnatural state of affairs for a cow, it becomes what might be called catatonic and remains catatonic for a short period of time. This gives the shochet time to wash the neck of the animal and perform shichta. The animal goes from catatonic to unconsiousness to death very quickly. In the instances I have observed, once cut, the animal does not move and when dumped out on the dressing floor where a shackle is attached to the hind leg and the carcass hoisted, the animal is indeed dead.

I have not observed the use of a curry comb prior to shichta but it would make sense if the animal is held in a dirty environment and one wants to insure that the cut is clean with no dirt present to interfer with the knifes progress through the flesh. Most cattle find grooming with a curry comb pleasant and non-threatening -- perhaps even reassuring.
That said, improper or incomplete shichta which does not result in immediate unconsciousness and bleed out would doom an animal to a painful and slow death. The use of a hook might speed that death, but I'm not sure how much difference it would make and whether or not it would increase or decrease the amount of pain the animal felt. But it is clear - to me at least - the use of a hook to speed death of a semi-conscious animal would render the animal trief.

The use of the Weinberg pen is generally believed to be a more humane form of slaughter in Israel. Because the animal is flipped upside down - an unnatural state of affairs for a cow, it becomes what might be called catatonic and remains catatonic for a short period of time.

This is absolutely false.

One can see a video of the Weinberg Pen in operation here:

http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/Prefs.asp?video=agri_short

Most cattle find grooming with a curry comb pleasant and non-threatening -- perhaps even reassuring.

Disproven scientifically by Temple Grandin.

The use of a hook might speed that death

The hook slows death because the animal feels the pain and struggles against it.

To Jewish State and People of Like Mind,
I wish you to answer one question. If you are unable or unwilling to publish your true answer on this blog then I ask you to ask yourself the same question. The question is this:
Why do you steadfastly and consistently deny the inhumane method and halachicly forbidden method of AgriProcessor's "Kosher" slaughter in the face of scientific evidence and collective ethical opinion? Your denial then begs another question: What is YOUR agenda; are you shareholders in rubash-kin enterprises, are you family members etc.? Why would ordinary decent Jews support the methods of slaughter carried out by AgriProcessors?
Please answer us if you will.

>

I can only report what I have seen. If an animal is left in the Wienberg pen too long before shichta is performed the catatonic state will end and the animal will regain consciousness. Since I don't know the circumstances of the PETA video I cannot comment about how long the animal was held in this position before shichta was attempted.

>

I am not familiar with any "scientifically" proven evidence done by Dr. Grandin that curry combs cause animals pain and suffering. I would like very much to read her study. Again, my own experience using a curry comb to prepare animals for cattle shows seemed to indicate the animals were at worst indifferent to it.

>

The hook may indeed impede death rather than accelerate death, but I suspect the pain the animal feels and 'struggles against" is caused by the initial failed shichta cut and has much to do with its struggle to remain concsious as it thrashes about.

A word about PETA: PETA doesn't believe in the slaughter of animals, no matter how slaughter is accomplished. Their goal is to stop all slaughter of animals and they have gone to great, and sometimes questionable lengths to make their point. Under such circumstances footage supplied by PETA is at best questionable. Is the animal we see suffering one in five hundred (the number of cattle slaughter in Postville each day), one in five, or every animal? How many shichta errors occur? Clearly, the animals seen in the footage suffer horribly and there must be a better way to perform this bloody act. One must question for example if it is really possible in an industrial setting to humanely slaughter 500 head of cattle a day on a single shichta line. But given PETA's motives we should question exactly what we are seeing. There is much to be concerned about in Postville, IA and Gordon, NEB. Too much to be lightly brushed aside. But let us measure "evidence" carefully.


Indeed, we have time, Sir. Evidence must be measured carefully as you propose so that the truth will be revealed.

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