Friday, December 17, 2004

Shehitah Controversy IV

Questions about the (illegally produced) PETA videotape, after I did a bit of research and consulted with experts on the subject:

The video shows a cow that continues to walk and wail (presumably in pain) even after its kosher slaughter.

One questions whether:

1) an animal whose windpipe has been cut, as is the case in kosher slaughter, can bellow to the extent shown in the video and

2) a slaughtered cow can walk after both carotid arteries have been severed, as is the norm in kosher slaughter. After an animal's carotid arteries are severed, it loses balance and falls to the ground within seconds (8-10, after which it starts to involuntarily spasm). This animal did not.

One can only conclude that the slaughter shown in the video is an aberration - an invalid slaughter that was subsequently declared non-kosher. Like all human beings, slaughterers sometimes make mistakes and kill the animals improperly or perhaps fail to initially kill the animal.

If an animal is properly slaughtered it will react in the same way as a person whose jugular vein is cut, going into shock and feeling nothing. This has been verified by use of electroencephalograms. In that case, when shehitah is done properly, further cutting of the throat causes no additional pain because the animal is in shock and will fall to the ground within seconds. (I've been injured and in shock, and I vividly remember not feeling any pain at all and just touching my blood and looking at it. It took a good minute until I started to feel the pain.)

The USDA classifies a slaughterhouse that maintains the percentage of improper slaughters below 5% as "good" and kosher slaughterhouses, because of the financial incentive to maintain the kosher status of the animals, are well below this 5% mark.

PETA's use of this video to characterize all slaughtering by Agriprocessors is unfair and misleading. Before we accept the video as representative, we must investigate whether it shows the standard practice or merely an unfortunate mistake. So far, inspections by kosher certifying agencies and other knowledgable officials have deemed it an aberration. Therefore, the condemnation belongs not at the doorstep of Agriprocessors, for inhumanely slaughtering, but at the address of PETA, for misleading the public.

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