Inhumane Slaughter and Misconduct Uncovered at Kosher Slaughterhouse

The AgriProcessors (AGRI) kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa was documented mutilating still-conscious cows and using improper and brutal handling practices for killing poultry (AWI Quarterly, winter 2005). An undercover People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals video of the plant revealed that its slaughter methods clearly violated both the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and Jewish law.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Inspector General has released a report containing details from its investigation, which determined that AGRI employees "engaged in acts of inhumane slaughter" and the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) employees "observed the acts of inhumane slaughter and did nothing to stop the practice." Some employees at the plant said they had observed animals with their tracheas removed "get up and walk after being dumped from the kill box."

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Additionally, it was reported that, "FSIS inspectors accepted meat products from AGRI and that FSIS employees engaged in other acts of misconduct." An FSIS inspector was also said to have spent significant amounts of time sleeping on the job and playing games on a government computer.

Despite these blatant violations, the USDA imposed only minor sanctions on just three of the plant's 10 inspectors and claimed that the information "did not present a prosecutable case." However, many individuals are still angry about the treatment going on behind closed doors. Rabbi Perry Rank, president of the Rabbinical Assembly, wrote in reference to the case, "When a company purporting to be kosher violates the prohibition against tza'ar ba'alei hayyim, causing pain to one of God's living creatures, that company must answer to the Jewish community...."