Following a Tuesday night television report showing chickens with their heads
wedged between rusting bars and others yanked haphazardly by their limbs,
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz launched an investigation of one
of the nation’s largest poultry slaughterhouses.
Channel 10’s Kolbotek
investigator and Anonymous for Animal Rights activist Ronen Bar documented and
reported about the alleged abuse taking place at a Soglowek slaughterhouse,
responsible for the daily slaughter of about 30,000 chickens and
The chickens are kept for up to 19 hours in cramped and filthy,
feces-filled cages, some broken and rusty, the broadcast reported. Many chickens
are left injured inside the cages, without food or water, sometimes with their
limbs stuck between the bars, the report said.
The cages are fork-lifted
and transported to a machine that hurls the chickens down to a conveyor belt
that leads them to the slaughter area, according to the television footage. In
the process, however, some of the chickens are left hanging in the air, with
their legs and wings caught between bars – until an employee discovers them and
throws them onto the conveyor belt, the report said.
following the broadcast, Peretz ordered law enforcement personnel in his
ministry to conduct an immediate investigation of the findings, for which
testimonies will already begin on Thursday, according to the
“We cannot remain indifferent to these awful pictures,” Peretz
said. “There is a legal and moral failure here, and these phenomena ultimately
only will financially harm any offenders who do not meet the required
Peretz also stressed that he has begun intensive
discussion with Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir and officials at the Justice
Ministry in order to complete the procedures necessary to transfer the authority
over animal rights to the Environmental Protection Ministry from the Agriculture
Also just after the broadcast, the organizations Anonymous for
Animal Rights and Let Animals Live approached the head of veterinary services at
the Agriculture Ministry, demanding an urgent suspension of permits for
transportation to the slaughterhouse and to close its doors.
organizations have filed a complaint to the police against Soglowek for serious
violations of the Animal Welfare Law.
“Chickens are falling from their
cages onto the conveyor belt, sometimes from a great height – one under the
other, one on top of the other, a terrifying mass of flapping wings and flying
feathers,” the complaint said.
Chief Rabbi David Lau said in response to
the investigation that the prohibition in Jewish law against causing pain to
animals is “extremely serious” and that the Council of the Chief Rabbinate would
deliberate on the matter at its next meeting on Monday.
unbelievable that we should see such terrible scenes in the food industry in
Israel,” said Lau in a statement to the press. “Anyone who witnesses abuse of
animals is obligated according to Jewish law to warn those committing the abuse
and report it to the authorities.
“The Torah commands us to show
compassion to all creatures, reduce their suffering as much as possible,
including those that will be slaughtered,” he continued.
noted that the Chief Rabbinate is empowered to deal only with issues pertaining
to Jewish dietary laws in relation to kashrut authorization.
rabbi pointed out, however, that the evidence revealed on Wednesday showed that
the level of abuse could injure the chickens in a way that would negatively
impact their kashrut status.
MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), who has worked to
ban the controversial food product foie gras from being sold in Israel, praised
Lau’s reaction to the revelations.
“I praise the chief rabbi for taking
such a strong stance even outside the realm of kashrut and Halacha,” Lipman
said. “The chief rabbis should be the spokesmen and set the tone for morals and
core Jewish values.”
Lipman had sent a letter to Soglowek CEO Pini Kamari
after the braodcast, emphasizing that he would no longer be purchasing Soglowek
products, as he “cannot take part in violating the laws of the state and the
values of the Torah.”
“I’m not naïve, an abattoir is not a pleasant
place, but the absurdity here is that the slaughter was actually the best part –
here the poor bird is finally redeemed from his misery,” he said.
response to the report, the Agriculture Ministry stressed that it conducts
extensive examinations of the activities going on at slaughterhouses throughout
the year, and that all slaughterhouse doctors and inspectors are guided and
supervised by the ministry.
Since the latest animal welfare regulations
came into force, the Agriculture Ministry has filed six indictments related to
the welfare and transportation of poultry, the statement
Agriculture Ministry officials said they have requested the
full, unedited footage in order to examine it.
Over the past year,
ministry inspectors have conducted a number of careful and computerized
examinations at Soglowek, the office said. During the last review, which
occurred only a few days ago, there were no signs of physical injury to birds or
violations of the Animal Welfare Law.
The examination did uncover,
however, that a number of birds could not be easily released from their cages
and therefore were collected manually by the workers. In addition, the review
showed that some cages were broken and unfit for use, so the Agriculture
Ministry ordered Soglowek to make these necessary repairs and improve the
welfare of the birds during their waiting and unloading process, the statement
An additional problematic finding in the review was the fact that
the birds were tilted downward during the unloading of their cages, and that the
large amount of noise during the process may be a cause of great stress to the
birds, the ministry said.
Soglowek informed the ministry afterward that
the company would immediately cease employing the machine responsible for these
issues, and also promised to shorten the duration of transport and waiting time
prior to slaughter, the ministry added.
Soglowek, meanwhile, posted a
response on its Facebook page from Kamari, apologizing for the footage displayed
and assuring customers that this does not “reflect the spirit of
“We see this as a very serious case, and therefore right when
we became aware of the case we immediately replaced the facility in the
slaughterhouse,” Kamari said. “Although the facility adhered to regulations and
standards in Israel and in the world, we decided to immediately stop the work
and replace it in a process that has the most stringent standards.
will take every possible measure in order to ensure that such a case will not
“We emphasize that the event is not related to the quality
of products,” Kamari continued.
“The products are as good quality and as
safe as ever.”
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