The OU's website has a 'clarification' of the second cut (i.e., throat-ripping with a hook) done at AgriProcessors that contradicts a written statement made by the head of the OU's Kashrut Division, Rabbi Menachem Genack:
We, at the OU, have received several phone calls asking to explain the purpose of the second cut done at Agriprocessors.
In other words, the result of shechita that cuts the esophagus and trachea but not the carotids – in itself a violation of the Humane Slaughter Act that contradicts claims on the process of shechita made by rabbinic groups to the US Government since 1904 – can be made more commercially viable by a second cut.
There are two reasons for this cut: kashruth and commercial. The additional cut accelerates the flow of blood and its depletion from the animal and that helps facilitate a more effective, subsequent, salting. It also improves the quality of the meat by avoiding blood spotting.
The second cut into the carotid arteries, though halachically significant, need not be done by a “shochet” (as explained in Yoreh Deah, Siman 22).
But why have shechita that does not cut the carotids?
A source in the kosher industry has told me that a shallow cut that does not cut the carotids is faster for the shochet – one of the highest paid employees on the line – and has a reduced possibility of causing an imperfection in the knife, which would result in the animal being declared non-kosher. According to this source, a shallow cut both speeds up the line – allowing each shochet to kill more animals per shift – and results in a higher kosher output because the knife is less likely to become defective.
According to my source:
- Properly done shechita should not require a second cut.
- Shallow shechita – which arguably may save Rubashkin tens of thousands of dollars per year – does require a second cut to make the meat commercially viable.
The OU's statement also contradicts a written statement just issued by Rabbi Menachem Genack, head of the OU's Kashrut Division, that asserts the second cut was done only for commercial reasons.