In a 2010 letter to PETA, Agri Star's owner, Hershey Friedman, says it can't install 24/6 video monitoring of the animal handling areas of the plant and its grounds or of the slaughter floor area because the Postville plant's rabbis thought having cameras looking over their shoulders would hinder their jobs.
Above: Hershey Friedman
I asked PETA today if it was able to confirm the changes cited in this letter from Agri Star's owner, Hershey Friedman, were actually made.
"We were not able to confirm that these changes were implemented (or maintained)," PETA responded.
And that again raises the key issue with Agri Star – obsessive secrecy, in this case based on an arguably crazy pretext, that its supervising rabbis did not want 24/6 live streaming video footage aired on the Internet because they were self-conscious about working that way.
That means the rabbis who presided over Agriprocessors' horrific abuse of animals and then when caught claimed that abuse did not render the animals non-kosher, are the people who allegedly heavily contributed to the decision not to be fully transparent now.
Here is the email exchange I had last week with Erika Voogd, the consultant mentioned in this letter. She declined to answer questions because of client (i.e., Agri Star) confidentiality. Should her largely unsupported claims be trusted? I don't think so, not with that plant's history of abuse and corruption.
If you need to eat meat and care that animals are well treated from before slaughter until they are actually dead, buy any of the various free range grass-fed humane slaughter-assured non-kosher brands because you simply cannot trust non-transparent companies and non-transparent kosher supervisions. If you insist on keeping kosher as it is defined rabbinically today and must eat meat, then eat poultry from good smaller producers like David Elliot (despite its Chabad hechsher) or, in a pinch, the far larger Empire. Don't eat red meat. Don't eat "chassidishe shechita" or "heimishe shechita." And if you can, don't eat any meat at all.
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