Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

A False Linkage: Indonesian slaughterhouses and Kosher killing

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As a number of backbench Labor MPs have come out against the recent government decision to lift the suspension of live cattle exports to Indonesia, partly on the basis that all animals should be stunned before slaughter, a false linkage has been made by some critics between the images from Indonesia's slaughterhouses and the killing of animals for Kosher consumption.

As noted in a recent post, numerous experts on the welfare of livestock, prominent amongst them Professor Temple Grandin, testify that Kosher slaughter is ethical and painless, with Grandin noting "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 appear to not cause pain" . Grandin concluded "It appears the animal is not aware that its throats has been cut."

When mentioning the 'special long knife', Grandin is referring to a method in Kosher slaughter used to ensure that animals lose consciousness rapidly and endure minimal pain. As Executive Council of Australian Jewry President Dr Danny Lamm recently pointed out in a recent Sunday Age opinion piece, the studies cited by Kosher slaughter critics are not relevant because they do not take into account these special pain-preventing measures:

"These studies, such as one carried out by New Zealand's Massey University, not only did not attempt to duplicate the safeguards provided under kosher slaughter, including the knife's size, sharpness and smoothness, and the training and skill of the slaughterman, but have also been criticised by independent experts for extrapolating conclusions about calves to sheep and even poultry, despite fundamental physiological distinctions."

The Kosher method of killing animals for food is premised on minimal suffering to an animal - both prior to and at the moment of slaughter. Attempts to exploit recent legitimate concern regarding some Indonesian abattoirs' practises in order to ban Kosher slaughter should be rejected not only because they directly oppose religious freedom and rights, but also because they have no basis in reality. 


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