Kosher and Humane

The Dec. 28 story, “Cattle Video Stirs Kosher Meat Debate,” conveys a misleading impression about the response of the Orthodox Union to the situation at Agriprocessors. Your statement, “The Orthodox Union ... has declared that the procedures at Agriprocessors ‘meet all our standards to the highest degree,’ ” refers only to whether the meat is kosher. There wasn’t ever a question of whether the meat satisfied the Orthodox Union’s standards in this respect.

As the story states, kosher law also involves humane treatment of animals. The article, however, makes little mention of the union’s response to the video’s release. In the seven-week period that PETA recorded its video, 18,000 cattle were slaughtered at the plant. In a small percentage of cases, the animal was not rendered insensate by the cutting of the trachea, esophagus and the carotid arteries.

Following the video’s release, I and an authority on Jewish law, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, went to the plant. After that visit, the Orthodox Union and Agriprocessors agreed that the trachea will no longer be removed following kosher slaughter. This information is located toward the end of the story, conveying the impression that the Orthodox Union was slow to respond. Moreover, we have encouraged several independent authorities to inspect the plant. Recently, four such authorities, with no ties to the Orthodox Union, have vouched for humane treatment of animals at Agriprocessors.


Rabbi Menachem Genack

Rabbinic Administrator,

Kosher Division,

Orthodox Union, New York