Wednesday, September 10, 2008

OU threatens to Yank Agriprocessor's Kashrut Licence

This just in from JTA.

Following the filing of criminal charges against Agriprocessors, the Orthodox
Union may withdraw its kosher certification of the company [Agriprocessors.]

On Tuesday, the O.U. announced it would withdraw certification from the kosher meat company, the nation's largest, unless new management is hired.

The announcement came just hours after Iowa's attorney general filed criminal charges against Agriprocessors and its owner, Aaron Rubashkin, for child-labor violations.

"Within the coming days, or lets say a week or two, we will suspend our supervision unless there's new management in place," said Rabbi Menachem Genack, the O.U.'s head of kosher supervision.

I have blogged about the Agriprocessors scandal a few times aleady.

While the OU's action is commendable, it is also long over due. Why are they threatening this only now that State criminal charges have been filed. Agriprocessor's inhumane practices to animals - and violation of Jewish Laws re tzaar baaleh chaim [suffering of animals] were conclusively documented on film by PETA several years ago. (In fact the films even showed technical violations of kosher slaughter rules - animals clearly not killed by a single cut to the throat.) Agriprocessor's violation of Jewish Laws of fair labour practices were documented by various labour unions, and by investigative journalists of the Forward, several years ago. Agriprocessor' exploitation of foreign workers and violation of American Immigration Law has been known since at latest the big immigration raid on there Postville plant earlier this year.

Why did it take State criminal prosecution to force OU's hand?

Well better late then never.

Maybe this will provide further impetus for the Hescher Tzeddek movement, which strives to have Jewish authorities certify food as not only meeting the Jewish legal requirements of kashrut, but also the Jewish legal requirements regarding suffering of animals and fair labour practices. Let's hope so.


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