Slanderous Campaign Against Rubashkin?

(Thursday, November 15th, 2007)

rubashkin.gifYeshivaworld has received dozens of emails in the last 12 hours telling us that they have received anonymous, automated phone calls telling them that Rubashkin Meat has Mad Cow Disease – amongst other things. Yeshivaworld has learned that these phone calls have been made to thousands & thousands of homes.

Take a minute to read an email which we received from a YW reader, and then the response from Rubashkin regarding these claims.

Dear YW Editor,,

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Someone is making anonymous / unidentified phone calls to the frum community regarding kosher meat recalls, primarily anything from Rubashkin / Agriprocessors. The website they reference appears to be hosted  by the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union. Can someone uncover the truth about this group and the scare tactics they are using by calling homes telling them the meat is unsafe? The reason I am so skeptical, is that they are referencing Mad Cow Disease. If there were a serious threat about this dreaded disease, wouldn’t the government get involved the way they have in other cases where the remote possibility existed? It seems that there are groups with an agenda against Rubashkin. (Unions often have such agendas.) If they can’t scare people away with safety, animal rights, or kashrus issues as they have tried to in the past, they seem to be resorting to scare / terror tactics such as the dreaded Mad Cow Disease. This, without properly identifying themselves in their phone calls definitely seems to be a terror tactic, that could really scare the kosher consumer with accusations that may or (more likely the case from their past) may not have any merit.

If you can look into this and expose the truth for the kosher consumers as you have in the past with similar issues, as with all else you do, we would greatly appreciate it.

Rubashkin Meats Letter (Sholom Rubashkin):

November 14, 2007

Dear Customer:

It has come to my attention that you may have been the victim of a slanderous and patently false campaign by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. You may have received their misleading flyer entitled “Kosher Alert” or an automated phone call with misinformation about products produced by Agriprocessors. This is part of a textbook campaign by the Union to force a company into submission to unionize a plant even when it is against the wishes of the workers, which is the case at Agriprocessors.

The vicious tactics by the Union not withstanding, when someone makes allegations about practices in our company or the quality of our products, I take it personally. My family guarantees that all our products are safe and wholesome. Let me assure you there are no recalls or food safety issues with our products. We have a moral obligation to produce the safest products for our customers and we take that obligation very seriously. The Rubashkin family has been supplying high quality kosher meat and poultry for over fifty years. Mr. Aron Rubashkin has earned his reputation of trust for Kosher, quality and food safety. That is why consumers across America rely on our product every day.

As you know, all of our products must earn the seal of wholesomeness by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) before they leave our plant. To produce safe food in our modern production facility, we and the on-site USDA inspectors maintain a constant vigilance. We are committed to continue to strive for improvement so that you are guaranteed of the safest and utmost quality products.

It is unfortunate that in today’s day and age of respect for democratic institutions, that the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), refuses to abide by the wishes of the workers at Agriprocessors not to organize into a Union We would at any time respect the right of our employees to organize and join a union if they so choose.

We hope that you will now recognize the context of the disinformation that has been disseminated in our community in a brazen attempt to force the workers to unionize. We know, that like all fair-minded people that you will stand with our employees and their right to decide for themselves whether or not to have a union.

Ironically, the UFCW has targeted our food safety record that as you can see below is nothing less than stellar. Here are but a few highlights:

• Concerns about Mad Cow disease are simply wrong.  We have never had product from any suspect animals leave our plant.
• Agriprocessors has had zero recalls in any of our raw, fresh or frozen poultry and beef products since we opened. Yes, not one recall in nineteen years.
• The UFCW claims we have excessive reports of non-compliance. In covering the same UFCW report, the Cedar Rapids Gazette interviewed USDA spokesperson Amanda Eamich who was quoted as saying, “….a plant the size of Agriprocessors might receive 9,000 inspections per year, of which 250 noncompliance findings remains “a pretty small percentage.”

We have always maintained an “open door” policy and encourage our customers to ask any questions that they may have about our products. We rely on our quality control systems and personnel, USDA oversight and independent auditing to assure the  products safety and wholesomeness of our products. Rabbis and customers are welcome to tour our plants at any time to see our commitment at work first-hand.

We are proud of our commitment to the principles we established almost nineteen years ago. The food we produce at Agriprocessors is safe and wholesome. You have my word on it. 

We encourage you to ask questions and find out for yourself. To get the facts, visit our web site agriprocessor.com.

We are most gratified by your continued support and thank you for helping make Agriprocessors the leader in kosher beef and poultry.

Sholom Rubashkin
Vice President

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15 Comments

  1. shturem says:

    I hope Rubashkin sues the unions pants off. Slander is a serious offense which has a good legal recourse.

  2. cherryhillbilly says:

    shlomo,
    keep the juicy cuts rolling.

  3. MrBrian says:

    This is merely a Union scare tactic. If “Mad Cow” were an issue it would certainly be all over national news as this is a very serious concern within the agricultual community.
    The union must resort to these tactics because the people that work for Agriprocessors are smart enough to see through the “smoke screen” the Union tried to produce to get hard earned monies from them. Once the Union taps into the pockets of these hard working people, they would soon be forgotten by the Union. The Union is upset because they didn’t get into thier pockets.
    Agriprocessors has some of the best products in the Nation, if not the World. Just last month, AAron’s Best Turkey was rated #1 in the Nation by “Cook’s Illustrated” Magazine.
    All products at Agriprocessors are closly monitered by on-site USDA inspectors.
    As Mr. Rubashkin stated, cutomers are welcome to vist and tour the ultra-modern facility at any time they desire.
    Almost all the beef processed comes from Iowa, where pride and family values still take precidence over the almighty dollar. Rest assured, if your buying Rubashkin’s products, you are buying the very best that money can buy, in all aspects.
    G-D Bless

  4. Almost a Godol says:

    There is one short flash missing which can give the uninitiated and uninvolved person a short synopsis of the entire issue.

    “The United Food and Commercial Workers Union desperately wants the employees of Agri to organize and join their union”.

    Agri allowed the union to present their case to all employees of Agri. Voting took place. They lost. Twice.

    Now it’s a case bad grapes.

    Thus the smear camping. Period.”

    It’s the union that lost that is running aroung like a mad cow.

  5. midwesterner says:

    I belive that tehre is i difference between the Aaron’s label, and the Shor Habor Label. Shor Habor has strictly chabad shochtim, and the Aaron’s has from all minim of klal Yisroel.

    And Heshy Rubashkin, who lives and manages the operation in Iowa (not one of the active shochtim) is VERY much in the meshichist camp.

  6. DR says:

    This issue has nothing to do with whether you use Rubashkins’ meats. It doesn’t even have anything to do with whether you think it’s kosher or not. All it is, is a union looking to cause trouble to a large, well-established company, who is not helping to fill the union’s pockets. The fact that the company is Jewish doesn’t make them like them any more than might have been the case otherwise. I’ve seen these union protests in NYC where “unorganized” contractors got construction jobs. These union guys stood around, with their picket signs and blown up rats, every single day for months until the job was done. Not everyone is interested in the union getting rich off of their paychecks. If only some of these union hotheads would just get a real job rather than stand around waiting for jobs that are not going to be theirs. . .
    I guess they figure if they can’t get it, they may as well ruin it for the guy who will get it.

  7. mark levin says:

    Someone should tell these morons that its almost IMPOSSIBLE for kosher cows to have Mad Cow Disease. Those cows wouldn’t even be shechted in the first place.

    What a bunch of goyish kep!!!

  8. JOLI says:

    If we start speaking about kashrus. Lots (maybe even most) Rabonim and Poskim in our time hold that you’re not allowed to shecht a beheima upward. The only slaughterhouse that still shechts the traditional way downward is Rubashkin.This I think makes Rubashkin the only reliable shecht house there is.

  9. Almost a Godol says:

    To: Stam a Deya.

    My Dear Yudel,

    A year ago you were on the radio stating that ‘in a few weeks there will be a new scandal about Rubashkin that will pale the Finkel/Monsey scandal.”

    Well, a few weeks have passed.

    Where are we now?

    We are all still eating Rubashkin (each respectable group with their hashgocho, Chabad, KAJ, Weismandel, Viznitz, OU, etc)…

    And you, Yudel, I guess you are eating your heart out.

    So far the score is:

    Rubashkin 12
    Yudel 0

  10. hagtbg says:

    Slandering someone through a telemarketing campaign is despicable. And to accuse somone of spreading mad cow disease is simply foolish as well.

    That being said, such an attack would not be an excuse for an untruth by the ‘other side.’

    Sholom Rubashkin write that “Agriprocessors has had zero recalls in any of our raw, fresh or frozen poultry and beef products since we opened. Yes, not one recall in nineteen years.”

    Actually, if you do a search in the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Services you’ll find that Agriprocessors had two recall’s of kosher food in this past year alone (on January 23 and July 6, 2007).

    I actually tried to post yesterday. I had a direct link in my prior post to these recall’s but it was not posted maybe because of the links. So I am trying without them.

    I am puzzled why Sholom Rubashkin would make a claim that could so easily be verified as false.

  11. yavreichik says:

    To-hagtbg, if I’ m not mistaking the recent recall wasn’t for RAW meat it was for hotdogs or something.
    Rubashkin said there was no recall of RAW meat.

  12. stam a deya says:

    Almost a gadol,
    It says chachom adif menavi – but that is sadly not the case by you. I am not Yudel Shain as is apparent from your opening. I wish I could prove it to you. If yeshivaworld allows you to leave your number I will gladly contact you….However, if you truly believe in Rubashkin, tell them to take the Shain challenge. Allow him access whenever he wants. Now lets see:

    Shain: 1
    Rubashkin: 0

  13. Medor Dor says:

    A lot of outside rabbinic’s visited that place, they give good reports I believe the Chasidisha scheitas Like Supreme don’t use Lubavicher Schochtim at all,
    Rabbi Yudel Shain has not been in that place for more then 13 Years, a lot could of changed since, it seems he has an agenda with them, the Rubashkins’ and the Rabonim don’t think he should be allowed in at all.
    Is he the only trust worthy person in Kashrus? Then don’t eat it

  14. hagtbg says:

    yavreichik,

    The recalls of this past year have concerned the Rubashkin and/or Aaron’s Best kishka, hotdogs, meatballs and chicken nuggets. I do not know whether these qualify as “raw, fresh or frozen poultry and beef products (I would think a vacuum sealed product is ‘fresh’ but maybe that means something specific in the meet industry).” I do know that Sholom Rubashkin said that there was “not one recall in nineteen years,” and that his statement was designed to make you think there have been no recalls of the products you might buy for your family.

    Yet, despite his impression there were two recalls this very year. At the very least he is purposefully trying to create a false impression.

  15. Abe.Froman says:

    These guys can’t stay out of the news.

    First: motive. Rubashkin’s is angry at UFCW because UFCW has been representing AgriProcessor workers in a class action lawsuit over unpaid wages.

    That probably explains this media campaign blaming UFCW for hype. But the problem is more complex than just saying “Mad Cows at Rubashkin’s” or “UFCW is wrong.”

    Contrary to the hype, Agriprocessor’s has not had a BSE case, but they have gotten into trouble with the USDA for breaking rules related to BSE safety. Specifically, since Mad Cow was identified, by law US plants are not allowed to sell cow kidneys, spinal cords, or brains unless certain conditions are met. Agriprocessor does not follow these conditions. This isn’t PETA making the allegations, it is the USDA. Agriprocessors uses every part of the cow except the “moo.”

    The reason for the Federal regulations on Mad Cow safety are simple: The processor probably won’t recognize an infected animal, so the law treats all cows as potentially infected. A cow with BSE would have gotten Mad Cow long before Agriprocessor acquired the animal for slaughter. Agriprocessor would only catch BSE before slaughter if the BSE infected cow was a “downer,” i.e. unable to stand up on its own power. Even then, a brain biopsy would be needed to confirm BSE. Needless to say, a single case of BSE at any US meat plant could shut beef processing down across the country until the reservoir was found.

    Sad to say, Agriprocessor has been caught in the past by the USDA slaughtering downer cows. If a cow cannot stand up during shecting, I am not sure how it passes as kosher. Maybe they sell it as non kosher, I guess you have to trust them on faith. If Agriprocessors passed BSE infected meat into the kosher or non kosher food supply, and someone got infected, it will be a death-sentence for that person as well as a public relations disaster for Orthodox Jews, not just the Rubashkins. Dormant myths among gentiles regarding food supply tampering could be rekindled by a scandal like Mad Cow emanating from a kosher meat processor. We do not need that. I’ve long felt the OU has not been strict enough with Agriprocessor’s chronic misbehavior. The USDA should not be carrying our water in matters like this. They should be a finding a clean plant, with happy workers, that follows the law.

    Being targeted by a union like UFCW probably isn’t that pleasant. Getting accused of endangering people’s health isn’t nice either. Rubashkin meats could avoid both problems by paying their workers fairly and following Federal Agriculture law.

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