Once again, the kashrus-observant world is faced with another shechita crisis. The problem effects shechita in America and across the globe. It has recently come to light that three major issues in cattle-raising and meat preservation are having a profound effect on the kashrus of meat.
The first problem involves a surgical procedure to remove excess gas from the stomach of a cow, which results from the common “pen-feeding” of commercial cattle. “Pen-feeding,” where the cattle are kept in pens and fed grain in troughs without room to exercise and eat freely, causes the cows to develop huge amounts of gas in their digestive systems (caused by the fermenting grain). In order to relieve the cows of this gas, farmers do a surgical procedure to puncture the stomach and release the excess gas. This puncture wound renders the cow problematic regarding glatt kosher (and sometimes renders them treif).
In addition, in places like Uruguay, many cattle farms have unsafe drinking water for the cows that is riddled with parasites. When the cows drink this water, parasites enter their system and cause boils on the lungs of the cow. These boils, at the very least, render the meat non-glatt, and sometimes render the meat treif, as well.
The third issue occurs after the shechita, to clean out the carcass and preserve the meat. In many shechita facilities, after the blood is drained from the carcass, the cow is embalmed with chemicals. These chemicals can fill up the lungs making it difficult, or sometimes impossible, to check the lungs properly.
The OK certified, glatt-kosher shechita in Uruguay, under the brand name Quality Kosher Meats, does not have any of the abovementioned problems. Under the direction of Rabbi Yosef Feigelstock, shlit”a, OK Kosher Certification takes special precautions to avoid the issues of treifus or non-glatt resulting from surgical procedures, parasites and embalming.
Quality Kosher Meats purchases cattle herds that have been fed “free-range,” meaning they graze naturally in fields to eat, instead of being held in pens. Before a herd is purchased for shechita, the OK ensures that the cows in the herd have a good health history (each cow has a numeric tag on its ear that corresponds to the health log), with no surgical procedures and each cow is inspected by a specialized inspector to ensure that it does not have a scar indicating the procedure was done.
In addition, the OK only allows Quality Kosher Meats to purchase from cattle farmers who use clean drinking water, free of parasites. If an OK shochet or mashgiach finds the boils (caused by parasites) on the lungs of a cow, the meat is automatically declared treif, because it is a health concern for the shochet or mashgiach to taste the liquid inside the boil to determine if it is halachically acceptable or not.
Finally, the OK does not permit the embalming procedure after the shechita is performed.
These safeguards, strongly enforced by OK Kosher Certification and Rabbi Feigelstock, along with the high standards upheld by Quality Kosher Meats, ensures that none of the current problems with other shechitas occur in meat produced by Quality Kosher Meats and certified by OK Kosher Certification.
(By Dina Fraenkel)