Israeli Slaughterhouse Shuttered After Video Shows Abuse of Hens

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A scene from a Channel 10 broadcast on abuse at a Soglowek slaughterhouse, October 2013.Credit: Kolbotek screengrab

The Agriculture Ministry has ordered the immediate shutdown of the Soglowek slaughterhouse in the north after a television station revealed abuse of poultry there for the second time in two years.

On Monday night, Channel 10 aired the footage made by the group Anonymous for Animal Rights. In a statement, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said the investigation began on Sunday after the ministry had been shown the film first. There could be no tolerance for animal cruelty, he said.

For its part, Soglowek said it would continue to take measures against wayward employees at the plant in the town of Shlomi, whom it said were exceptions.

Using a hidden camera, the animal-rights group filmed workers pulling on chickens caught between the bars of cages and kicking chickens that fell or flew to the floor.

Workers also tossed chickens on top of one another, and waved them while dancing and laughing. One worker was seen dancing with the ritual slaughterer and other workers while waving and shaking a bleeding chicken that was still conscious.

“Until the investigation is complete and decisions have been made ... the slaughterhouse was asked to immediately add manpower to continuously supervise the slaughtering process,” Ariel said, adding that new equipment was needed, as were more supervisors and state veterinarians to supervise the process.

“The pictures we have seen are appalling and intolerable. I have said before that I will apply a policy of zero tolerance for such things,” Ariel said, adding that he had instructed the ministry “to treat such offenses with the utmost severity, and to accelerate the installation of monitoring cameras at all slaughterhouses.”

He said the ministry would promote legislation prohibiting animal cruelty; there would be greater punishments and spot inspections at chicken and cattle slaughterhouses.

In October 2013, Anonymous for Animal Rights published a similar video on abuse at the Soglowek plant. For example, chickens with legs caught between bars were left hanging or later yanked.

After the 2013 report, Soglowek stopped using that machine and the company’s CEO pledged that such abuse would not happen again. Anonymous and another group, Let The Animals Live, filed a complaint alleging animal cruelty, but the state prosecutor has not sought any indictments.

“Soglowek filed a complaint with the police against the former workers whose employment was terminated at the Shlomi slaughterhouse in recent months and who, according to the Channel 10 news footage, abused animals,” the company said. “Such behavior does not reflect the company’s spirit or guidelines.”

It said Soglowek employed a full-time inspector and manager to prevent animal cruelty, and that 10 other workers had been trained to ensure that no animal cruelty took place.

“In the past two years, Soglowek has invested hundreds of thousands of shekels to prevent such things from happening, but unfortunately some people broke the law,” it said. “Any worker who abuses animals will immediately be handed over to the police.”

MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union), meanwhile, has called for a boycott of companies that abuse animals. But the adviser to the agriculture minister has accused the Environmental Protection Ministry of delaying legislation that would hold company managers responsible for animal cruelty.

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