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Monday, October 25, 2010

And So It Begins: Halal Uproar Causes Backlash Against Kosher Ritual Slaughtering

The problem started earlier this month when it was revealed that McDonald's in the UK was selling halal chicken without telling its customers:
Fast-food giant McDonald's has admitted selling halal chicken without telling its customers. The poultry was used in popular menu items such as Chicken McNuggets and the McChicken Sandwich in its 1,200 British outlets.

The admission comes three weeks after the company categorically denied to this newspaper that it used any halal meat. Now McDonald's has revealed that the firm that supplies its poultry, Cargill, produces halal chicken at one of its abattoirs.

Now it appears that as a reaction a major supplier of kosher meat to England has shut down its kosher operations:

Slaney Foods in County Wexford, Ireland, which supplies kosher meat for the London Board for Shechita (LBS), announced this past week that “We have made the decision not to have religious slaughter."

The London-based Jewish Chronicle reports that the McDonald’s chain, which is also supplied by Slaney, denied rumors of its involvement in the decision. It is McDonald’s policy not to use meat that is religiously slaughtered, such as kosher or halal. Following concerns that halal meat had been mistakenly used for some McDonald’s chicken products, the company asked all suppliers to "reiterate that their meat was not slaughtered in that way.”
Slaney Foods has since come out publicly to say that their decision is not due to McDonald's, but rather in response to the negative media coverage that ritual slaughter has been receiving--a decision that LBS was not informed of in advance.

Still, with reassurances from McDonald's that they have no desire to be the cause of the curtailment of the supply of kosher food, there is supposed to be a solution in the works.

Things are not as positive in New Zealand, where kosher slaughtering is banned by law:
In New Zealand, shechita has recently been outlawed altogether, though the ban has been put on hold as the Jewish Community takes the government to court over it. The country’s two largest Jewish communities have initiated a joint struggle to “Save the Future of Judaism in New Zealand” by ensuring that shechita is legalized.

A statement issued by the Auckland Hebrew Congregation and the Wellington Jewish Community Center reads in part:
“New Zealand recently became the first country in the world to outlaw kosher slaughter since the Nazis enacted similar legislation in Europe over 70 years ago. New Zealand Jews may soon be the only Jews in the world who can no longer eat chicken. Your children or grandchildren may never experience a Passover with chicken soup and matzah balls, or ask the meaning of the lamb shank on your family’s Seder plate.
The statement goes to say that despite the Jewish history of New Zealand, which goes back over 170 years to the beginnings of the settling of New Zealand settlement, the Jewish community may be forced to leave.

Actually, New Zealand may not be the first.

Wikipedia gives a little background on Europe in general:
The Swedish government commissioned a report from the Veterinary College in the 1920s that concluded that shechita could continue, but this was ignored in later Swedish legislation (although in Swedish law it is legal to slaughter fowl for private consumption). Shechita slaughtering is also prohibited in Iceland, and since 1929 in Norway.

The United Kingdom forbids shechita munachat (slaughter of the animal while it is lying on its back), on animal welfare grounds.[14]

New Zealand's Agriculture Minister struck down the exemption of shechita from animal cruelty laws on May 27, 2010, effectively banning the practice. New Zealand's Jewish leadership has indicated its willingness, should political avenues fail, to seek legal recourse to reinstate shechita's status as a form of legally-humane slaughter.[15] [emphasis added]
A Muslim group, ASIDCOM, has come out with a paper in defense of ritual slaughter, including a quote from a Dr. Pouillaude:
"...The conclusions of all the scientific experiments converge towards one firmly supported certainty: properly carried out, religious slaughter is the most humane way because there is less trauma when killing an animal to consume its meat"
The paper can be downloaded here.
Below is the text.

In the meantime, the current crisis is probably due in equal parts to anti-Jewish sentiment on the one hand and a backlash against the perceived imposition of Muslim customs on a public that has had enough.

As usual, Jews are caught in the middle.



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