Hidden camera footage shot by Anonymous for Animal Rights shows workers yanking chickens caught between the bars of cages, kicking live chickens, piling live chickens one on top of the other in heaps, and swinging them while dancing and laughing. One worker was caught dancing with a shochet (Orthodox Jewish ritual slaughterer) and other workers while waving and shaking a bleeding chicken that was still conscious.
Updated 3:17 pm CDT
Israeli Kosher Slaughterhouse Linked To Rubashkin Agriprocessors Affair Shuttered Over Persistent Animal Abuse
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s Agriculture Ministry ordered the immediate closure of the Soglowek slaughterhouse today, Ha’aretz reported, after Channel 10 television news aired footage last night made by Anonymous for Animal Rights that showed abuse of poultry there – the second such case at the Soglowek slaughterhouse in two years.
Soglowek was the original high bidder to buy the then-shuttered Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa that had been owned by the Rubashkin family of Chabad hasidim until it fell into bankruptcy after widespread financial fraud and animal and worker abuse there was uncovered. Soglowek eventually withdrew its bid – but not due to any concerns over abuse of animals or workers.
In a statement today, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said the investigation into Soglowek began Sunday after the ministry was shown the footage before it aired. He stressed there will be zero tolerance for animal cruelty.
As it did two years ago, Soglowek claimed the animal cruelty was carried out by a few wayward employees and promised it would take measures against them.
But the hidden camera footage shot by Anonymous for Animal Rights shows workers yanking chickens caught between the bars of cages, kicking live chickens, piling live chickens one on top of the other in heaps, and swinging them while dancing and laughing. One worker was caught dancing with a shochet (Orthodox Jewish ritual slaughterer) and other workers while waving and shaking a bleeding chicken that was still conscious, and it is clear from the hidden camera footage that the employees had no fear of being punished by management for the abuse.
“Until the investigation is complete and decisions have been made…the slaughterhouse was asked to immediately add manpower to continuously supervise the slaughtering process.…The pictures we have seen are appalling and intolerable. I have said before that I will apply a policy of zero tolerance for such things,” Ariel said, adding that he had instructed the ministry “to treat such offenses with the utmost severity, and to accelerate the installation of monitoring cameras at all slaughterhouses.” He also said the ministry would work to pass legislation prohibiting animal cruelty, and said there will be spot inspections at chicken and cattle slaughterhouses and stronger punishments meted out to any violators found.
Meanwhile, Soglowek claimed it was cracking down on the employees caught abusing animals.
“Soglowek filed a complaint with the police against the former workers whose employment was terminated at the Shlomi slaughterhouse in recent months and who, according to the Channel 10 news footage, abused animals. Such behavior does not reflect the company’s spirit or guidelines,” Soglowek said in a statement that also claimed Soglowek employs a full-time inspector and manager to prevent animal cruelty, and said that 10 additional workers had been trained to ensure that no animal cruelty took place in plant. “In the past two years, Soglowek has invested hundreds of thousands of shekels to prevent such things from happening, but unfortunately some people broke the law. Any worker who abuses animals will immediately be handed over to the police,” Soglowek insisted.
In October 2013, Anonymous for Animal Rights released similar undercover video shot at the Soglowek plant. In the outcry that followed, Soglowek’s CEO promised to stop the abuse and promised to make specific reforms he that would ensure such abuse could not happen again. But it did happen, in part because it appears many of those reforms were never made.
For example, the new hidden camera footage (shown above in the Channel 10 News report) shows poultry trapped between cage bars and mesh, something that would not happen if the equipment was properly designed and maintained. Soglowek had promised to deal with these and related issues two years ago but did not fully do so, and its employees – seen yanking trapped chickens, throwing live chickens like basketballs, and showing no concern at all for animal welfare – seemed unaware of any company policies against abuse.
Two years ago, more than a little dubious about Soglowek's claim it would crack down on the abuse, Anonymous for Animal Rights and Let The Animals Live (a similar nonprofit) filed a criminal complaint against Soglowek alleging animal cruelty. Israel’s state prosecutor, however, did nothing with it, leading to to today's fresh abuse scandal.