Modern Day Industrial Shechitah
The Basic Workflow
Article below courtesy of the COR.
- For a live chicken to be suitable for kosher slaughter it cannot have any deficiencies such as broken limbs. As such chicken catchers are paid a premium for catching kosher chickens as the catchers must take care in corralling both legs of the chicken to ensure no broken limbs.
- In the processing plant, the chickens are prepared for slaughter whereupon the act of shechita is performed by the shochet by severing the trachea, esophagus, carotid arteries, jugular veins and vagus nerve in a swift action that immediately renders the chicken insensible to pain.
- After the slaughter, the chicken is placed on a conveyor system and left to hang so that the blood drains from the body. The chicken is de-feathered, but the de-feathering must be done at a cold temperature. Non kosher chicken processors de-feather with a hot scald but this is explicitly prohibited by kosher law because the hot scald is deemed to cook the blood into the meat of the chicken. Not only is the hot scald prohibited, but any equipment used to perform a hot scald for non kosher cannot be used in connection with kosher at all. This is one of the many reasons that kosher poultry cannot be killed in a facility that also kills non kosher poultry.
- After the chicken is de-feathered, a mashgiach (supervisor) will examine the chicken and remove any prohibited items and check for dislocated bones or torn tendons or holes in the chicken’s intestines that would render it non-kosher.
- Afterwards, the chicken is soaked, salted and rinsed to take away any remaining visible blood.
- At this point the chickens are packaged and sealed with a kosher symbol on the packaging so that kosher consumers can be assured of the animal’s kosher status. As kosher is regarded with the utmost reverence, great care is taken to guarantee the integrity of the kosher process.
Examination for Terefot
- The next stage in the production of beef is the Bedikas Horeyah-the examination of the lungs. No matter how excellent the shechita may have been, the meat may not be eaten if the animal is treifa i.e. if certain organs were damaged in a way Halacha considers unacceptable. For the most part we may assume that nothing is wrong until we actually see trouble.
- The lung, though, has a high incidence of treifa and it requires an examination. This takes place in two stages. The first is called Bedikas Pnim,-internal examination. The Bodek places his hands inside the chest cavity and gently feels his way around each of eight lobes for any adhesions or abnormal tissue. If the lung is completely free of lesions it is “Glatt Kosher”-if a. small lesion is found the “Bodek Pnim”(examiner) will carefully tear it at its point of attachment to the chest wall; identify its location and report it to the “Bodek Chutz” (external examiner) who receives it after its complete removal from the animal. The Bodek Chutz then reexamines the lung for discoloration and a host of other possible treifas, passing his hands and eyes carefully over the entire lung. He will take the remains of the adhesions reported to him by the Bodek Pnim and attempt to peel them carefully from the lung. He then inflates the lung or section thereof at the point where the peeling was done and passes it through water to see if any air bubbles escape in which case the animal is pronounced treifa. The same procedure is followed for adhesions between adjoining lobes.
- If this phase of the examination is successful, the animal is pronounced “kosher” (sans Glatt) and labeled accordingly. One can easily see that these two examinations take a little time and most definitely require expertise and yiras shamayim. With the present assembly line-fast moving conveyor belt system, patience and meticulous care often fall into the shadow under the onslaught of a mighty Texas-style herd of cattle each and every day.
- All of the above, however, pales before the complexities of keeping tabs on the different cuts of meats and classifying all of them correctly. Shortly after the shechita, the animal is broken apart, the head going in one direction and the body in another. Then the liver goes off on its own, the lung sits on the table of the Bodek Chutz and the carcass speeds off to a fourth location.
- Should the Bodek discover a treifa at this stage, he must pass his information on to sharp-eyed mashgichim posted at strategic locations alongside of the whirling, speeding organs, who must label them in a way that cannot be counterfeited later on.
Footage from the Slaughterhouse
Warning: Viewer Discretion is Advised
- Shechita and Kashrut of Meat 1 and 2, The Kosher Cut
- Shechita In America, Past And Present: A Brief Overview, OU Kosher Staff, May 5, 2004