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←  Society & Culture


New Cheaper Method in Glatt Kosher Meat

Elana's Photo Elana 03 Jul 2009


Israel - Concerned that exacting kosher stringencies have pushed meat and poultry prices beyond the reach of many poor haredi families, a group of rabbis is out to prove that a cheap, Glatt kosher chicken is not a contradiction of terms.

But these rabbis might be headed for a kosher meat war, complete with mudslinging by competitors fearful of being cut out of the market.

Rabbi Baruch Roshgold, a widely respected expert on the Jewish laws and practices of shkhita (ritual slaughter), has put his name behind an innovative method which he says cuts costs without compromising kashrut standards.

"Maybe this is the reason God brought me into the world and gave me all my shekhting experience," Roshgold said. "So that I can show there is a better way that is not only cheaper, it is of even higher quality than any of the mehadrin labels on the market."

Over a year ago Roshgold, who has personally trained many of the nation's most well-known ritual slaughters over the past three decades, joined forces with the Israeli branch of the Orthodox Union (OU) and kosher supervisors in the Chief Rabbinate to implement the slaughter method.

Today they are producing about 150 tons of Glatt chicken a month.

Marketed under the brand-name "Fleisch OU," the special slaughter method is based on probability, a recognized principle in Jewish law. A sample of 1,500 chickens out of a total of about 10,000 is thoroughly checked to determine what percentage are treif [not kosher] due to mucous in the lungs or ripped leg tendons, the two most common problems suffered by chickens.

If more than one percent of the chickens examined are found to be treif, none of the 10,000 is used by Fleisch. Instead, it is directed to regular Chief Rabbinate kosher supervision.

If, however, 1% or less is found to be treif, the remaining chickens are assumed to be of high quality and are, therefore, not in need of labor-intensive examinations of the lungs and legs. Rather, a cursory examination as the chickens go by hanging upside down on a production line is deemed sufficient.

In contrast, Glatt kosher supervisors such as the Edah Haredit's Badatz, She'arit Yisrael, Rabbi Rubin, Belz and others check every chicken's lungs and legs thoroughly.

The resulting price difference is significant: For instance, on an arbitrary day at the end of 2008 in a supermarket in Petah Tikva, a whole chicken under one of the more stringent kosher supervisors cost about NIS 26 per kilo, compared to just NIS 20 per kilo for a Fleisch chicken. This was just NIS 3 more expensive than a chicken under regular Chief Rabbinate supervision.

The discrepancy is even more pronounced for items such as drumsticks. Instead of paying about NIS 46 for a kilo of Glatt kosher drumsticks under the supervision of one of the stricter supervisors, Fleisch's drumsticks cost just NIS 28.

Fleisch might be fighting an uphill battle in a market in which high prices are associated with a high level of kosher supervision, while low prices are seen as an indicator of lower kashrut standards.

Sources in the kosher slaughtering world who insisted on remaining anonymous were skeptical of Fleisch's kashrut level. However, none of the sources who spoke with the Jerusalem Post had actually seen Fleisch's slaughter method in action.

All of Fleisch's chickens are labeled with a telephone number and an invitation to see the slaughter process in person.

This week the Post visited Fleisch's operation at the Of Hanegev slaughterhouse near Netivot, together with a group of senior American-born OU rabbis living in Israel.

The group included Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Shalom Gold, Rabbi Aharon Borow, Rabbi Moshe Gorelik and Rabbi Jay Karzen. They were positively impressed by the slaughter method.

Shuki Batist, Fleisch's marketing director, said its marketing strategy was very cautious.

"We barely advertise and we are careful to market our chickens only in haredi supermarket chains," he said.

Sources close to Fleisch, who preferred to remain anonymous to avoid entering into conflicts with others in the kosher meat market, said Fleisch's detractors were motivated primarily by personal business interests.

"If you can buy a Glatt kosher chicken for just a few shekels a kilo more than a regular Rabbinate chicken, why wouldn't you?" asked one source.

"There are private butchers in Jerusalem who received telephone calls claiming that Fleisch chickens are worse than regular Chief Rabbinate chickens.

"But so far no one has listened. And soon we will be expanding to cattle at well," the source said.

specially for PD:

do you [general you] think it'll become widespread?

do haredim buy it in israel now?

Red Hare's Photo Red Hare 03 Jul 2009

Glatt only applies to red meat.

Jewcepticon's Photo Jewcepticon 03 Jul 2009

"If you can buy a Glatt kosher chicken for just a few shekels a kilo more than a regular Rabbinate chicken, why wouldn't you?" asked one source

.oh wow! this guy is ignorant, lol glatt chicken

Elana's Photo Elana 03 Jul 2009

but how about this idea?

Jewcepticon's Photo Jewcepticon 03 Jul 2009

but how about this idea?

of not checking..............from what i know they already dont check lungs on chicken.

Elana's Photo Elana 03 Jul 2009

of checking only 15% of the whole batch?

Snag's Photo Snag 03 Jul 2009

how about checking only 15% of the whole batch of veal, in which case many (most) batches of veal would be rendered treif...

Jewcepticon's Photo Jewcepticon 03 Jul 2009

of checking only 15% of the whole batch?

but most people dont check, not 15% not 10% checking is already a chumra.... you dont check a chickens lungs so these people came up with it to check now they are compromising

Kalashnikover_Rebbe's Photo Kalashnikover_Rebbe 04 Jul 2009

but most people dont check, not 15% not 10% checking is already a chumra.... you dont check a chickens lungs so these people came up with it to check now they are compromising

In Israel ALL mehadrin heksherim check at LEAST the "tzomet hagidim" in the leg, and some check lungs (and other internal organs) too.....

R. Auerbach doesn't which is why many people won't eat his heksher....

And when they say "Glatt" it's lav davka, they mean mehadrin......

Pinchas's Photo Pinchas 04 Jul 2009

My Rabbi said as far a chicken is concerned Rabbanut is as good as Badatz.

As other posters have written there is no such think as a "glatt kosher chicken."

As far as doing it cheaper - of course it is doable. I know of someone that tried this in America. He was in Denver working on getting glatt kosher meat shipped to NY to sell at a lot cheaper prices when he got a knock on his hotel door and two chassidim with guns threatened him to leave town immediately and not compete against them.

David F's Photo David F 05 Jul 2009

As other posters have written there is no such thing as a "glatt kosher chicken."

There is no issue of סרכות, i.e. scabs on a chicken's lungs. In mammals, there is a machloket between Rashi and the Geonim whether lungs which remain intact (after checking whether air escapes them) once such scabs are removed, which leads to the prennial question of Glatt שחיטה. Only a סרכה between two alveolar sacs which are not normally one lying on the other are considered treif.
There is no such issue with poultry, as birds' lungs have no alveolars.

However, there are two issues which in previous ages were not checked, but today are relevant:

1. A lung which is hard (YoD 36:10, based on Hulin 47b). In previous generations, this was extrememly rare, and therefore nobody bothered to check this (in poultry; in ungulates, the lungs are checked anyway). As far as I know, this might happen with chicken which are fed by human-made 'chicken food', which has a negative effect on their immune system. This is considered by most badatzim (Rav Auerbach of טבריה, which k-reb mentioned is an exception) widespread enough to require an extra check.

2. צומת הגידים - a bunch of converging sinews in the thigh. Once again, it is normally assumed that unless you actually notice a chicken falling from a high place, צומת הגידים was left intact; but contemporary transport methods, trying to squeeze as many chicken in a lorry, result in often cases of falling, and to צומת הגידים problems.
This was considered to be a 'Litvish' chumra - the Hassidic badatzim ignored this issue once it was raised by Rabbi Rauchberger of Haifa; I do not know if they actually check it nowadays - but I will take k-reb's word for it.

As far as doing it cheaper - of course it is doable.

The main issue with doing it cheaper is doing it faster. Normal Rabbanut shokhatim slaughter as many as thirty chickens per minute. The question is whether one can properly trust the shekhita was done properly in this way.
בד"ץ שארית ישראל claimed to have the slowest shekhita - twelve chickens per minute. Obviously, this raises the price quite a bit.
The בדיקות also take time - but as far as I know, the main issue is that of the time taken between chickens. There are already in the market poultry which claim to be kosher lemehadrin with all the בדיקות done, but are only marginally more expensive than normal Rabbanut ones.

Jennifer's Photo Jennifer 05 Jul 2009

R. Auerbach doesn't which is why many people won't eat his heksher....

Yeah, except when they want to go to just about any mehadrin hotel outside Yerushalayim and then it's ok to rely on his shechitah.. <_<

We pay 19 nis and change for a different, also a "less" mehadrin and not as well known brand.

Pinchas's Photo Pinchas 05 Jul 2009

Maybe it's because the chicken's in טבריה are fed better?

Jennifer's Photo Jennifer 05 Jul 2009

They definitely look better than some of the others sold locally.

Rentsy's Photo Rentsy 10 Jul 2009

I admit I am uncomfortable with the idea that there could be a learned Torah scholar (R. Auerbach, for example) and his conclusions about what is kosher "aren't good enough" for some people. It seems presumptuous.

Kalashnikover_Rebbe's Photo Kalashnikover_Rebbe 11 Jul 2009

I admit I am uncomfortable with the idea that there could be a learned Torah scholar (R. Auerbach, for example) and his conclusions about what is kosher "aren't good enough" for some people. It seems presumptuous.

This is true of Kashrus, especially in Israel. My question is would R Auerbach eat his OWN chickens. If yes, I would eat them, if NOT, I would want to know why..... (FTR I eat Auerbach chicken)

Like most Rabonnim in Israel will suggest you NOT eat Rabbinut products, even those that THEY themselves supervise. BECAUSE the Rabbinut heksher is deliberately designed to be as cheap and permissible as halachichally possible and "shava l'chol nefesh". But that DOESN'T mean it is at a level of kashrus that is acceptible to frum people and certainly not "charedim". They utilize kulos that are NOT "accepted" by the mainstream and are sometimes quite "bidieved". But in order that people aren't eating momish treif, and companies don't skip kashrus supervision altogether due to the exorbitant cost and hassle, they have a basic minimum standard.

Kashrus is about STANDARDS, not halacha, because if you really try you can find kulos for just about everything. The question is what is a reasonable standard that a "yiras shamayim" would eat??? And just because a Rav finds a heter for something or says that it is "kosher", doesn't mean it is UP to that standard.....

So in this particular question, it is NOT a "kula" not to check each individual chicken, it is a CHUMRA (and a fairly new one) to do so. So the question is, whether or not this chumra is "worth it" or necessary.

But not eating, Cholov Akum, Gelatin, Safak Orla, Milk milked on Shabbos, Heter Mechira, produce not adequately maasered, non glatt meat etc. is NOT a "chumra" according to many Frum Jews but the baseline halacha......

Jennifer's Photo Jennifer 12 Jul 2009