'Scandal' in the U.K.: Unwitting Customers Buying Kosher Meat

Mail Online scoop: Meat from unstunned, kosher-slaughtered cows goes into ordinary meat sold over the counter.

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The belief that kosher slaughter (shechita) is cruel, barbaric and unacceptable in civilized society is clearly going mainstream, at least in Britain. Mail Online, the country's most popular news site by far with nearly 12 million visitors daily, ran a "scoop" Sunday headlined: "Meat from cattle slaughtered in 'cruel' kosher ceremony is in your high street burger."

The story is nominally objective in that it quotes both pro- and anti-shechita sources, and puts pejoratives about the practice in quotation marks. Still, it portrays its revelation – that kosher-slaughtered meat goes into the non-kosher meat sold across U.K. and Ireland – as a scandal. It also plays up the gory details of shechita, the third and fourth paragraphs reading:

"The Jewish ‘shechita’ method of slaughter – the practice of slitting an animal’s throat and allowing it to bleed to death – has been slammed as ‘inhumane’ by vets and animal rights groups because the creature is conscious when it happens.

"Jewish law governing shechita strictly forbids pre-stunning, as do some Islamic groups for the production of halal meat. However, recent research suggests that unstunned animals can feel pain for up to two minutes."

The story tells that U.K. and Irish abattoirs which slaughter some of their cows for the kosher market are including the non-kosher rump and hindquarters of these cows in the meat they sell for general consumption.

"As a result, many consumers are buying their meat unaware of how it was produced," reads the story.

It notes that earlier in the month, the head of the British Veterinary Association, John Blackwell, was accused of inciting anti-Semitism and Islamophobia by calling for a ban against religious butchering on the grounds of cruelty to animals.

However, the story also quotes Shimon Cohen, spokesman for Shechita U.K., which regulates kosher slaughter in the kingdom, answering the demand by animal rights activists that meat be labeled by its method of production. "We too advocate better labeling," said Cohen, "but a more comprehensive one. Rather than saying just 'stunned,' it should say 'electrocuted,' 'gassed' or 'shot with a bolt gun.' Then consumers will be fully informed."

A slaughterer handling beef carcasses at a kosher slaughterhouse.Credit: Reuters

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