Brutal slaughter just ain’t Kosher
Please allow me to reply to Geoff Russell’s specific claims about Kosher slaughter in “You won’t be stunned to hear that slaughter is brutal”.
He says, “There is no shortage of scientific proof that religious (Halal or Kosher) slaughter involves more suffering than proper stunning.”
Actually, Geoff, in the case of Kosher slaughter there is NO such proof. On the contrary, there is strong scientific evidence that Kosher killing is humane and does not cause the animal distress or undue pain.
Professor Temple Grandin of Colorado State University is arguably the world’s foremost authority on the humane treatment of livestock and was one of the experts interviewed on the Four Corners program that uncovered the cruel treatment of animals in Indonesia.
She has conducted studies on kosher slaughter, and in the April 2010 edition of Meat and Poultry magazine, stated: “I have observed that cattle held in an upright restraint device had almost no reaction to correctly done kosher slaughter that was performed with a special long knife. The cut with the special knife appeared to not cause pain.” Elsewhere she notes that “it appears the animal is not aware that its throat has been cut” in kosher slaughter.
Dr Flemming Bager, head of the Danish Veterinary Laboratory, conducted similar experiments in 1992, which likewise indicated that the animals felt no pain and, indeed, did not even pull away as their throat was cut, even when they had no body restraints.
Dr Stuart Rosen of Imperial College London noted in his paper titled “Physiological Insights into Shechita”, published in The Veterinary Record (June 12, 2004): “Shechita (Kosher slaughter) is a painless and humane method of animal slaughter.”
A study some years ago in New Zealand (the Massey Study) tried to prove that Kosher slaughter causes the animal undue suffering. But the Massey study has been extensively critiqued by Grandin and others for failing to accurately emulate shechita methods and for extrapolating conclusions about calves to other kinds of animals.
It is not clear that stunning is always effective in preventing suffering. Captive bolt stunning (the most common form of stunning used in Australia) involves delivering a heavy blow to the animal’s head before its throat is cut.
Ordinarily, the animal should be rendered unconscious instantly but sometimes the stunning is botched and the animal undergoes unnecessary suffering. Jewish law does not permit pre-stunning because of the requirement that the animal must not be injured or mistreated in any way before it is slaughtered.
Geoff Russell also says “For cattle in particular, even the best of techniques which kill without stunning leave the animal conscious of its agony for a minute or more.” In Australia, cattle which are killed according to shechita are stunned immediately upon slaughter with not even a few seconds’ delay.
Finally Geoff Russell makes the insidious claim that “New Zealand has since caved to Jewish pressure [by maintaining the legality of shechita] on chickens but has held firm on large animals”.
In fact, the NZ government’s purported ban on shechita last year was challenged under the NZ Human Rights Act. It is highly improper for him to suggest that there was anything untoward about this.
The NZ Animal Welfare Code has now been amended to allow for shechita of poultry. Under the interim court orders (which continue) Kosher slaughter of lamb is also permitted for local consumption. In practical terms the status quo prior to the shechita ban has therefore been restored.
Kosher slaughter has been lawful in Australia since the mid-19th century and, like all animal slaughter, continues to be subject to strict government regulation.
The shocking treatment of cattle in Indonesia has led to a knee-jerk reaction by some people who claim it is hypocritical of Australia to criticise Indonesia for not stunning livestock imported from Australia when it is not mandatory here.
They overlook the fact that we have other humane ways of slaughtering livestock in Australia, including Kosher slaughter, that are not available in Indonesia.
There is no organised Jewish community - and therefore no Kosher slaughter - in Indonesia.
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