Rabbis to ask Vázquez to help solve problem of 'treyf' gassy cows

Uruguayan President's training as a medical doctor might help him to be understand the issues involved.

Cows 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Cows 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Kosher beef may not be high up on the list of priorities set by Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez during his visit to Israel. But a determined group of rabbis hopes to bring Vázquez's attention to their concerns regarding a veterinarian practice that they say makes thousands of Uruguayan cows treyf (inedible according to halachic standards). Since Israel imports approximately 30 percent of its beef from Uruguay, the rabbis have been working to solve the problem or move operations elsewhere. Rabbi Ezra Raful, head of the Chief Rabbinate's Kosher Slaughter Division, was slated to meet with Vázquez during a reception at the Jerusalem Theatre on Monday night to talk about the medical techniques used to treat the bloated stomachs of cows. Vázquez's training as a medical doctor might help him to better understand the issues involved, said kosher supervision sources. Raful, who was sent by Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, is concerned about rumors reaching Israel from Uruguay that veterinarians there use a needle to help release pent-up gases in cows' stomachs. "If the rumors are true then we might have a major kashrut problem on our hands," Raful told The Jerusalem Post before the planned meeting. Raful said a change in the diets of the cows could dramatically reduce gas, thus eliminating the need to puncture the animal's stomach. He said that he hoped Uruguay's president could help intervene on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate and bring about a change in diet. Acting on the rumors, the Edah Haredit, considered one of the nation's most stringent kashrut supervisors, has already discontinued imports of beef from Uruguay and has transferred some of its operations to Poland. Benny Epstein, who runs Edah's meat marketing, said a contingent of Edah Haredit rabbis who visited Uruguay discovered bruises on the stomach wall of a large percentage of cows. "During one visit we found only 17% were kosher so we discontinued operations there." A puncture in the stomach is counted among 20 different types of damages or diseases that make an animal treyf.