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ARCHIVE - Screams From The Kosher Kill Floor

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Dr. Merle Pierson, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rm. 227-E
1400 Independence Ave. S.W.
Washington, DC 20250
ph: 202-720-0350; email:

Dear Dr. Pierson,

Please file criminal charges against AgriProcessors Inc. in Postville, Iowa. In addition, I respectfully ask you to withdraw the company's inspection privileges until it demonstrates it can comply with federal law.

Inside the nation's largest factory for glatt kosher certified meat, cows are electrically shocked to goad them into a rotating drum (Weinberg Pen). Once restrained, each animal is mechanically flipped upside down, to position a blade over his throat as stipulated by Halacha.

Investigative video from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (taped during routine operations from July to September of 2004) reveals workers slicing the throats of conscious animals. Tongues protrude and eyes blink as columns of blood spurt from the wounds. After throats are slit, other workers use hooks to gouge out the steers' necks and manually extract their trachea and esophagus.

With the tug of a lever, cows are then hurled from the drum like giant rag dolls. On the floor, they struggle to stand while workers wait for blood to drain from their mangled bodies. Cows walk on their knee joints, tossing their heads from side to side in obvious agony. Pieces of their torn out windpipes dangle alongside them. Still conscious, sometimes up to three minutes, the animals are finally leg-tied and hoisted for decapitation.

Screams and groans can be heard above the clang of metal. If you have not done so already, please view the video at:

I urge the USDA to punish any inspectors who knowingly let this cruelty continue. Please establish publicly accessible standards for humane care in all kosher and halal slaughterhouses. These standards should include: A ban on electric prods, a ban on the practice of rotating animals upside-down for throat-slitting (shechita), and a ban on the handling/moving of throat-severed animals until they're dead from bleed out.

In addition, all religious slaughterers should be instructed to identify physiological signals of awareness in cows—i.e., blinking, bellowing, standing, rhythmic breathing, efforts to right one's head—to assure no alert animals are handled until they become unconscious.

AgriProcessors is clearly in violation of federal animal welfare law and ought to be prosecuted to the maximum extent. I look forward to your update on this extremely disturbing case.

Thank you,

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