Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Undercover Video Reveals Flagrant Abuse of Animals at South American Slaughterhouse

Lindsay Rajt 757-622-7382

Norfolk, Va. - Following a recent undercover investigation of a slaughterhouse in Uruguay, which is a leading exporter of kosher beef to the U.S., PETA and the Rabbinical Assembly (RA) are calling on kosher meat companies and the Orthodox Union (OU) to end a cruel slaughter method known as shackling and hoisting.

At a slaughterhouse outside Montevideo, undercover investigators documented that workers were tripping cows by tying a rope around one of the animals' legs and pulling on it, causing the cows to fall to the ground violently. Once the animals were down, one of the shackled back legs would be partially hoisted in the air. A worker would stand on one of the animals' legs while other workers--including one holding the animals' heads in place with a sharp metal pole--attempted to restrain the thrashing animals so that they could slit their throats. Some animals were forced to endure this trauma for several minutes. After the cows' throats were slit, the animals were immediately hoisted into the air by one leg to be bled out, but some cows were obviously still conscious and struggled for many minutes. Workers were caught on tape cutting into the animals' heads, necks, and joints while the animals were still conscious and able to feel pain.

After reviewing the video, Dr. Temple Grandin, the world's leading expert on farmed-animal welfare, said, "The methods used to restrain cattle in this plant were atrocious. Shackling, hoisting, and holding the fully conscious animal down with four people is a barbaric way to handle cattle in a modern slaughter plant. This is total animal cruelty."

Shackling and hoisting has also been condemned by the RA and Heksher Tzedek, a new ethical certification for kosher food. In a written statement, the RA reaffirmed and quoted from a previous statement by its Committee on Jewish Law and Standards (CJLS), saying, "[W]e find shackling and hoisting to be a violation of Jewish law forbidding cruelty to animals and requiring that we avoid unnecessary dangers to human life. As the CJLS, we rule that shackling and hoisting should be stopped."

The OU, which supervises the certification of kosher products at 3,000 businesses, has stated that it prefers a kosher slaughter method in which steers are killed standing up with their weight supported as opposed to being shackled by one leg and hung upside-down. However, the OU continues to certify meat from animals that have been killed by shackling and hoisting. PETA has written to Alle Processing, a major kosher beef company, urging it to stop selling meat that comes from plants that use shackling and hoisting and to buy only from plants that use the OU's preferred method.

"PETA has been inside many slaughterhouses, but this is among the worst abuse we've seen," says PETA Vice President Bruce Friedrich. "Kosher certifiers need to prohibit this cruel slaughter method both in the U.S. and in other countries that produce kosher meat for the U.S."

Broadcast-quality video footage showing the slaughter of animals in Montevideo is available. For more information and to view the video footage, please visit