Israel instructs kosher slaughterhouses to stop ‘shackle, hoist’ practice

Rabbinical authorities have spoken out against the shackle-and-hoist practice since 2008, encouraging the use of rotating restraint boxes – also known as rotating pens – instead.

A KOSHER slaughterhouse. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A KOSHER slaughterhouse.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Curbing a practice widely deemed cruel by animal-rights activists and rabbinical leaders, Veterinary Services will soon be requiring that all exporters of kosher beef to Israel improve their methods of slaughter.
The New Guidelines for Humane Kosher Slaughter, published by the Agriculture Ministry’s Israeli Veterinary Services and Animal Health office, will effectively eliminate the “shackle-and-hoist” method of slaughter for any meat coming into Israel as of next year.
All slaughterhouses currently exporting kosher meat to Israel must switch instead to using a “rotating restraint box” for slaughter by June 1, 2018, while any new slaughterhouses seeking export authorization must do so immediately, according to the guidelines.
The decision of Veterinary Services to update the country’s guidelines follows an undercover investigation in November by the Israeli groups Anonymous for Animal Rights and Let Animals Live, together with the American organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The objectives of the new requirements “address the need to ensure that the treatment of animals during the induction of death is as humane and respectful as possible,” according to the guidelines, which were sent to The Jerusalem Post by the animal- rights groups.
The shackle-and-hoist method, which was denounced years ago by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, positions the animal upside-down – a necessity in kosher slaughter – by chaining a hind leg and lifting the animal for slaughter.
Although the practice was banned in Israel, many South American facilities that export beef to the country still employ the method.
Rabbinical authorities have spoken out against the shackle-andhoist practice since 2008, encouraging the use of rotating restraint boxes – also known as rotating pens – instead. Rotating pens are considered to be more humane, as they shift the cow upside-down in the pen enclosure, rather than with a chain around a hind leg.
In November, Channel 10 news aired the investigation, conducted with the animal-rights groups, which documented kosher slaughter in Frigochaco, a Paraguayan facility that markets meats to Neto Group, an Israeli importer.
In addition to employing the shackle-and-hoist method, the workers were documented using restraint tools like pronged “devil’s forks” and metal hooks that attach to the animals’ nostrils.
Several months after the investigation aired, the government of Paraguay pledged to begin using rotating pens by the end of 2017.
Israel’s new Veterinary Service guidelines will require “all establishments exporting meat to Israel to use a rotating restraint box for slaughter of animals intended for Israel.”
“The device will invert an animal from an upright position onto its back, thus facilitating a downward cutting stroke,” the guidelines say. “Shackling and hoisting, shackling and dragging, and leg-clamping boxes are forbidden, and suspension of live animals by their legs is not permitted.”
The guidelines go on to detail exactly how these slaughter facilities must operate, including specific details about the rotating pens, animal welfare and worker training requirements.
In response to the decision to publish these new requirements, Anonymous for Animal Rights, Let Animals Live and PETA praised the action taken by Veterinary Services.
“Banning this extraordinarily cruel slaughter method is an important step forward,” a joint statement from the groups said. “However, as consumers we should remember that every slaughter is painful, and there is no humane way to kill animals in an industry that treats living beings like products.”
Nonetheless, the groups stressed their satisfaction that they have achieved the purpose of their initial petition filed in November to the High Court of Justice, demanding that meat import licenses require slaughterhouses to comply with Israeli law and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) standards. Yet a forthcoming court session scheduled on the matter will still go on as planned, to ensure that the parties meet the allotted deadline, a spokeswoman for the groups said.
“We won the court case, but for the animals, the more significant achievement has been the impact this investigation has had on the people who have witnessed this horrible cruelty and decided to make the compassionate choice to stop eating meat,” the statement added.