An animal rights group has video it claims shows cruelty to cattle being slaughtered at the meatpacking plant in Postville, in northeastern Iowa. The Agri-Processors plant there is the largest of its kind, and PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — claims to have filmed animals that survived for a time after their throats were cut, and suffered before they died. AgriProcessors spokesman Mike Thomas says the plant is under more than normal scrutiny to make sure things are done right. For an animal to be considered kosher it must be slaughtered according to rules defined in Jewish law, and nine different rabbinical authorities use the plant, supervising to make sure the products it sells them are appropriately prepared. About 700 people are employed at the Postville plant, which processes about 150-million dollars worth of cattle and poultry a year. AgriProcessors is a business, he says, not a religious organization, but “serves two masters,” since it must follow USDA guidelines as well as the rabbis who define the kosher slaughtering process. Thomas says while you may think there’s no kind way to kill an animal, the Postville plant uses the best methods there are. “It’s not a pretty sight,” and can shock visitors who aren’t used to seeing the process, as there’s a lot of blood, but Thomas says kosher is the most humane way to slaughter animals and that’s confirmed in federal guidelines. The meat produced at the plant in Postville is distributed widely because of its strict operating guidelines. All over the world, Thomas says, and this is the only beef produer in the US that’s certified to sell meat in Israel, though it’s not being sold right now because of barriers raised over BSE concerns. But it’s the only plant approved for that because of its meticulous process. Thomas says the animal-rights group is not only off-base in claiming the Iowa plant is cruel, but it’s too extreme to be satisfied with any improvements the company might try to make. Thomas says PETA has a “fairly extreme political agenda,” declaring on its website that it wants to end the eating of meat. He notes “There’s very we can do that’s gonna make PETA happy.” And Thomas poitns to vandalism at the University of Iowa a couple weeks ago in which computers, equipment and data were destroyed and hundreds of lab animals taken. He says the expose’ and video being touted by the group’s media arm and on the PETA website aren’t a critique just of AgriProcessors, it’s an attack on kosher slaughtering. They’re using AgriProcessors as a means to get at it, he charges, but really want to tackle religious freedom. He says federal government guidelines are very clear that killing kosher the way the Postville plant does is considered a humane way to do it, and is allowable. PETA would not make available for comment the person who claims to have been in the plant and filmed dying animals.
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