Undercover Investigation: "Shackle and Hoist" Slaughter in South America
PETA US and Anonymous for Animal Rights (Israel) have joined forces for a transnational investigation in kosher slaughterhouses in South America. Undercover investigators documented kosher slaughter in Paraguay and obtained footage from slaughterhouses in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, all of whom export beef to Israel. In 2015, Israel imported 66K tons of beef (almost 60% of overall consumption), primarily from South America.
The investigation exposes workers using an extraordinarily cruel slaughter method known as “shackle and hoist”, a method which was phased out in Israel and other countries, and breaches OIE regulations.
Workers electrically prod, chain, and painfully restrain each cow by hooking one nostril with a metal hand-held hook and a pronged restraint tool known as the "devil’s fork". After a cow's throat is slit, she is immediately hoisted up a rail, while writhing in pain.
Temple Grandin, PhD, a world-renowned expert on animal welfare, watched the footage. According to Dr. Grandin's statement, there are several indications that the animals were still conscious after the slaughter, while being hoisted to the rail.
The documentation shows workers using a puntilla to sever the spinal cord. Per Dr. Grandin's statement, "This does NOT make the animal unconscious. The head can remain conscious after the spine is severed.”
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Most of the investigation footage was shot in Frigochaco, a Paraguay slaughterhouse which markets its products to Israeli importer "Neto". Over 80 animals are slaughtered each hour in Frigochaco, using the "shackle and hoist" kosher method.
Overall, approximately 200 thousand animals were slaughtered there last year alone (including kosher and non-kosher slaughter). The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture's veterinary services approve and supervise slaughterhouses who export meat to Israel, being fully aware of what goes on inside their walls.
In February 2015, Dr. Muhammed Abed El-Hallak, who served as chief doctor for slaughterhouses in Israel, sent a letter to the chairman of veterinary services, warning about the use of forbidden methods.
Previous investigations carried out by PETA in kosher slaughterhouses in South America led to harsh criticism of the "shackle and hoist" method, both in Israel and in the American Jewish community. In 2008 and 2010, the Rabbinate declared that they would instruct importers to cease utilization of this method, and former chief rabbi Yona Metzger even threatened to revoke kosher certification for slaughterhouses who would not comply.
Update: Israel instructs kosher slaughterhouses to stop "shackle and hoist"
Following the investigation, Anonymous for Animal Rights and Let the Animals Live filed a petition to Israel’s Supreme Court, demanding that meat import licenses require slaughterhouses to comply with Israeli law and OIE standards. In response to the petition, on May 2017 Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced that by June 1 2018, all beef imported to Israel must come from slaughterhouses with rotating restraint pens, and “shackle and hoist” slaughter will be completely forbidden.
"Banning this extraordinarily cruel slaughter method is an important step forward", said a joint statement by PETA, Anonymous for Animal Rights and Let the Animals Live. "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. 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".
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We would like to thank our colleagues at Let the Animals Live for their contribution to this investigation.