A friend passes this along and comments: “Send to your friends who eat kosher beef!”
My name is Lester Friedlander. I am a veterinarian and worked as a slaughter line inspector for more than 10 years for the USDA. I have received repeated certificates of merit and commendation from the USDA, and was USDA Veterinary Trainer of the Year in 1987. I have reviewed the video that was taken at Federal Establishment # 4653, AgriProcessors, Inc. in Postsville, Iowa. The video was taken by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA], and I have watched this video several times.
In my years with the USDA, I have seen literally millions of cattle slaughtered, including hundreds of thousands of cattle that were killed in kosher slaughterhouses. The footage captured by PETA represents the most egregious violation of the USDA Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (HMSA) I have ever witnessed.
I have supervised the kosher slaughter conducted by the Satmar sect and the Lubavitcher sect at my federal plants, and the procedure I saw on the PETA video bears little resemblance to the ritual slaughter that I am accustomed to.
The main problem with ritual slaughter is that there is much variation in the methods that rabbis use to conduct kosher slaughter. But, despite the lack of consensus amongst rabbis regarding proper kosher slaughter techniques, all slaughter must meet the minimum animal welfare requirements laid out in The Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1978. The HMS Act of 1978 states that “the slaughtering and handling of livestock are to be carried out only by humane methods” and that “the use of humane methods of handling and slaughtering livestock prevents needless suffering of animals and results in safer and better working conditions for employees in slaughter establishments.” The HMSA “requires” that humane methods for handling and slaughtering be used for “all meat” inspected by the USDA and FSIS.
FSIS recommends that establishments identify where and under what circumstances livestock may experience excitement, discomfort, or accidental injury while being handled in connection with the slaughter process.
After you watch the video once or twice, view it again with your eyes closed; you can hear the frantic bellowing of the cattle. Now open your eyes, you can see why they are bellowing. The fear and distress that they feel is overwhelming.
The carotids are severed while the cattle are upside-down. After severing, the cattle are released onto the floor, where some get up and thrash and hit their heads against the floor. When the esophagus and trachea are torn away, you can see the cattle extending their head, trying to relieve the pain. This is unnatural for cattle to do this; they normally keep their heads low.
After the proper severing of the carotids, the cattle should be held in the restraint position for 30 seconds or longer, so they can bleed out thoroughly.
There is unnecessary prodding before the cattle are led into the rotating drum. This prodding excites and distresses the cattle, and they are not at their normal gait.
Rabbi Kohn, of Agriprocessors, said the throat tearing was done only to speed bleeding. From my experience, this is only done to keep up with the line speed. Kosher slaughter as compared to conventional slaughter, is supposed to be much slower due to the procedures involved. Again it is economics that dictate the procedures used. Removing the trachea and esophagus could bleed the cattle faster, but at the expense of the cattle.
Rabbi Weinreb stated that he found the procedure “especially inhumane” and “generally unacceptable” but wanted to find out how regularly it happened. That has no bearing on the intentions of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act. Even if it is violated only once, the plant should stop processing animals until the company can implement a procedure to prevent the violation from occurring again. This is not like a baseball game—a slaughterhouse doesn’t get three strikes before they’re out. Only one violation is enough to stop production at a slaughterhouse under the provisions laid out in the Humane Slaughter Act.
These statements are based on my professional opinion and on my own experiences working for the USDA for more than 10 years as a line inspector.