pcloudy.png
Tuesday August 3rd, 2021 2:08PM

Ruling brings kosher slaughterhouse new business, old fears

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

CSENGELE, Hungary (AP) — In a small room lined with religious texts, a Jewish rabbi demonstrates how knives are sharpened and inspected before they are put to use slitting the throats of chickens, geese and other poultry at a kosher slaughterhouse in Hungary.

A shochet, someone trained and certified to slaughter animals according to Jewish tradition, whets a knife on increasingly fine stones before drawing the blade across a fingernail to feel for any imperfections in the steel that might inhibit a smooth, clean cut and cause unnecessary pain.

“One of the most important things in kosher is that the animal doesn’t suffer,” said Rabbi Jacob Werchow, who oversees production at Quality Poultry, a 3 1/2-year-old slaughterhouse that supplies nearly 40% of Europe's kosher poultry market and a large portion of the foie gras sold in Israel.

The methods employed at the facility in the village of Csengele are based on ancient Judaic principles commanding the humane treatment of living creatures. They also are at the center of a debate about how to balance animal rights and religious rights as parts of Europe limit or effectively ban the ritual slaughter practices of Jews and Muslims.

Companies like Quality Poultry have found new export markets since the European Union’s highest court last month upheld a law in Belgium’s Flanders region that prohibited slaughtering animals without first stunning them into unconsciousness. But the European Court of Justice ruling also has provoked fears of eventual EU-wide prohibitions on ritual slaughter, and aroused memories of periods when Europe’s Jews faced cruel persecution.

“This decision doesn’t only affect the Belgian Jewish community, it affects all of us,” said Rabbi Slomo Koves of the Association of Hungarian Jewish Communities, which owns the Csengele slaughterhouse. “If this is the case in Belgium and the court has given it moral approval, that might start a process on a larger scale. If you go down this logic, the next step is you also cannot not sell meat like this in these countries.”

The EU has required the pre-stunning of animals since 1979, but allows member states to make religion-based exceptions. Most do, but along with Flanders and the Wallonia region of Belgium, Slovenia, Denmark and Sweden, as well as non-EU members Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, have done away with religious exemptions, meaning kosher and halal meat must be imported.

Animal rights groups say that slitting the throats of livestock and poultry birds while they are conscious causes suffering that amounts to animal cruelty. Stunning methods vary, but the procedure most often is performed through electric shock or a bolt pistol to the animal’s skull.

“Reversible stunning is the bare minimum we can do to protect animals," said Reineke Hameleers, CEO of the Brussels-based Eurogroup for Animals. "They should be rendered unconscious before being killed.”

The situation is not so cut-and-dried for religious observers. Jewish law forbids injury or damage to animal tissues before slaughter, and modern stunning practices can cause death or irreparable injuries that would render meat and poultry non-kosher, according to Koves.

Although some Muslim religious authorities consider pre-slaughter stunning permissible, local Muslim groups argued that the stunning requirements in Flanders and Wallonia grew out of efforts by Belgium’s Islamophobic far-right to harass their communities.

Rabbis Koves and Werchow said they believe the kosher slaughter method, known as shechita, is no less humane than the methods used in conventional meat production. In addition to the intensive process of sharpening and inspecting the knives, the shochet is trained to make the cut in a single smooth motion, severing the animal’s nerves and draining the blood from the brain in seconds.

“Whatever you think about...whether kosher slaughter is better for the animal than regular slaughter, you are basically putting animal rights ahead of human rights,” Koves said. “If people are going to ban our rights to have kosher food, that means that they are limiting our human rights. And this, especially in a place like Europe, brings very bad memories to us.”

Laws requiring the pre-slaughter stunning of animals appeared in some European countries as early as the late 19th century. Adolf Hitler mandated the practice in 1933 just after becoming chancellor of Germany, one of the first laws imposed by the Nazis.

Jewish and Muslim groups challenged the Flanders law in Belgium's Constitutional Court, which referred it to the European Court of Justice for a ruling on its compatibility with EU law.

The Court of Justice’s advocate general advised the court to strike the Flanders law down, arguing it violated the rights of certain faiths to preserve their essential religious rites. But the court disagreed, finding the law “allow(s) a fair balance to be struck between the importance attached to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to manifest their religion.”

The animal welfare minister for the Brussels region of Belgium, where stunning is not mandatory, said the ruling would breathe new life into the mandatory stunning debate there. The Brussels chapter of the New Flemish Alliance, a center-right party whose members led the push for the law in Flanders, said it would now submit a proposal for an ordinance to ban slaughter without stunning in the capital region.

The Hungarian government helped finance the slaughterhouse in Csengele, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban joined Jewish groups in condemning the court's decision as an assault on religious freedom. In a January letter to the U.S.-based Jewish Agency for Israel, Orban wrote that his government would “spare no effort to raise our voice against (the decision) in every possible international forum.”

Koves and other chief rabbis in Europe are looking into ways to appeal the EU court's decision.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Agriculture, AP Business - Poultry & Egg
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
How many variants of the coronavirus are there?
Many variants of the coronavirus are circulating around the world, but scientists are primarily concerned about three
3:01AM ( 1 minute ago )
Ruling brings kosher slaughterhouse new business, old fears
A kosher slaughterhouse in southern Hungary has increased its exports to Belgium since the European Union’s highest court upheld a Flanders region law that prohibited slaughtering animals without first stunning them into unconsciousness
2:58AM ( 3 minutes ago )
Asia Today: China's big holiday travel season light so far
Efforts to dissuade Chinese from traveling for Lunar New Year appeared to be working
2:56AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: More rules for returning New Zealand travelers
Travelers returning to New Zealand will face stricter rules at quarantine hotels as health authorities investigate how up to three people got infected with the coronavirus while isolating at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel
11:53PM ( 3 hours ago )
Biden pauses Trump policies as Blinken takes diplomatic helm
The Biden administration has paused or put under review a wide swath of Trump-era foreign policies as America's new top diplomat takes the helm of the State Department
10:03PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Colombia bans flights from Brazil due to variant
Colombia will ban flights from Brazil effective Friday over concerns of a variant of the COVID-19 virus that is circulating in that country
8:08PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP World News
Chinese app TikTok cuts jobs in India following ban
Popular short-video Chinese app TikTok is cutting its workforce in India after hundreds of millions of its users dropped it to comply with a government ban on dozens of Chinese apps amid a military standoff between the two countries
12:59AM ( 2 hours ago )
Biden: 'We can't wait any longer' to address climate crisis
President Joe Biden says "we can’t wait any longer″ to address the climate crisis, and that's driving his ambitious effort to stave off the worst effects of global warming
12:35AM ( 2 hours ago )
Virus aid package tests whether Biden, Congress can deliver
President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package is more than a sweeping rescue plan
12:32AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Stocks have their worst day since October as Big Tech sinks
The stock market posted its biggest drop since October Wednesday, led by declines in several Big Tech companies
6:50PM ( 8 hours ago )
Fed stresses its commitment to low rates as economy stumbles
The Federal Reserve pledged on Wednesday to keep its low interest rate policies in place even well after the economy has sustained a recovery from the viral pandemic
6:27PM ( 8 hours ago )
Fed stresses its commitment to low rates for the long run
The Federal Reserve pledged on Wednesday to keep its low interest rate policies in place even well after the economy has sustained a recovery from the viral pandemic
4:23PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
In duel with small investors over GameStop, big funds blink
Across most of America, GameStop is just a place to buy a video game
5:31PM ( 9 hours ago )
In fight over GameStop, smaller investors outduel big funds
Across most of America, GameStop is just a place to buy a video game
4:36PM ( 10 hours ago )
In a war over GameStop, big funds yield to smaller investors
Across most of America, GameStop is just a place to buy a video game
3:54PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Turkmen ruler establishes holiday to honor local dog breed
Turkmenistan's autocratic leader has established a national holiday to honor the local dog breed
1:00PM ( 1 day ago )
PepsiCo goes Beyond Meat in new partnership
PepsiCo is joining forces with Beyond Meat to develop new snacks and drinks made from plant-based proteins
12:14PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Immigrant wariness a hurdle for vaccine efforts
Advocacy groups are heading into farm fields in California to bring vaccines and information to migrant laborers in Spanish and other languages
10:46AM ( 4 days ago )
AP Business - Agriculture
Small-town Alabama resident transformed to protest leader
A Black woman who says she gained new racial awareness after leaving her majority-white hometown in Alabama is now leading protests against a Confederate monument in the city
10:52AM ( 3 weeks ago )
AP Business - Poultry & Egg
WHO team in Wuhan departs quarantine for COVID origins study
A World Health Organization team has emerged from quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan to start field work in a fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic
2:58AM ( 3 minutes ago )
Asia Today: China's big holiday travel season light so far
Efforts to dissuade Chinese from traveling for Lunar New Year appeared to be working
2:56AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Asian shares drop after US stocks' worst day since October
Asian shares have fallen as a reality check set in about longtime economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, giving Wall Street its worst day since October
2:30AM ( 32 minutes ago )
AP sources: Parker headed to Chicago, McBride to Minnesota
Candace Parker is headed home and Kayla McBride is getting a fresh start in Minnesota
2:21AM ( 41 minutes ago )
The Latest: Vietnam's first local outbreak in 2 months grows
Vietnam reported 82 new coronavirus cases, hours after confirming its first two infections in nearly two months
2:09AM ( 52 minutes ago )