OK Certified Meat Not Affected by Latest Shechita Crisis

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OK_Kosher_logo.jpgOnce 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)




32 COMMENTS

  1. Sound good. Does anyone here have any experiences from Quality/Rabbi Feigelstock’s Uruguay operation?
    Are they careful about avoiding Zebu? Are their shochtim rotated frequently? or do they stay away from their wives for months at a time? Do they have frum and educated bodkim?
    Do they keep track of each shochet’s percentages?
    How many gassos does each shochet shecht per day?
    Do the shochtim feel rushed or pressured?
    Do they have people well trained in nikur?
    Does “takes special precautions to avoid the issues of treifus or non-glatt resulting from surgical procedures” mean actual inspection/bedika, or only precautions?

    It would be nice to have another reliable shechita besides the Nirbatur. (one of the few I still respect)

    By the way, Who IS doing this embalming? I would like to know.

    Where is the Melicha taking place?

    This letter is informative, but raises questions that need answers. Will those who have worked down in Uruguay write in and update us on these issues?

    I am not talking about politically motivated posts. I am talking about much needed informative and educational posts that can tell us what is going on. To be honest folks, I am considering becoming a reluctant vegetarian.

  2. The surgical procedure to remove gas from the stomachs of cows we heard about over 15 years ago. That was the problem with milk and grocers were throwing out all of their cholov yisroel milk. The problem with parasites and embalming are relatively new. However, I don’t think YW should get into the business of reporting what any individual hashgocho does with their food processing. Doesn’t that imply an endorsement?

  3. As a veterinarian that worked for quite few years in the cattle busines I am curious who wrote/paid for this advertisement.
    All three concerns do not sound like new real problems.
    Is there all of a sudden a tremendous incidence in rumen free gas bloat in the cattle shechted for kosher beef? or is th author confusing this with the very real problem of displaced abomasum in dairy cattle.
    What parasite is transmitted in the water that has become suddenly so prvelent and is causing sirchos in the lungs of beef cows?
    Embalming chemicals? could you please elaborate or publish a retraction.

  4. In this weeks Yated there is an article regarding a meeting convened by Satmarer Rov (R’ Aharon) to address the issue of embalming as far as the bdikas pnim- without reaching any conclusion-
    The rep from the OK was quoted as saying that they cannot comment at this point- which makes this press release a bit strange!

  5. I would like to make some points.

    Recently Rabbi David Steigman from the OK visited the slaughterhouse, although he admited not be a shochet, or to have proper Hargosho…..

    Rabbi Feigelstock lives in Argentina, and most of the time he is not in Uruguay, he hardly goes to Uruguay….. Must Chabad in Argentina don’t eat from Feigelstock’s schechitah, but they eat sometimes their own (Rabbi Baumgarten), or they used Agudath Israel (Rabbi Yoseph and Rabbi Elimeir Libersohn) or the Sefaradic (Rabbi Joseph Chehibar).

    The OK uses sometimes goods shochtim, but sometimes uses all the rejected shochtim from Argentina, that hardly know anything they are “OK”

    Feigelstock is a messianic chabadtzker…..

    Finally this problems were resolved by Gedolim, this is a pure advertisement, In South America never embalming chemicals take place, this is an outright big LIE, furthermore, the parasite in the water are micro organism the same way that it appears in NYC Water, the problem in the lung is called Tuberculosis. Apparently this “news” has nothing of thruth, just go figure.

    You may want to verify more by contacting us directly:

    Jabad Lubavitch Argentina
    Agüero 1164 (CP1025)
    Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Tel. 5411-4963-1221
    info@jabad.org.ar

  6. “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.”
    PLEASE EXPLAIN.

  7. I am also concerned about this post. If it were attributed to a periodical, then it would have a bit more credibility. In issues as serious as this and one that affects all of us, this must be weighed against other hashgochos. I just want the truth so that I can make a proper decision in this inyan.

    Also, as someone mentioned, the issue of the stomach and this procedure rendering it a treifeh, was tackled many years ago. What’s the chidush??

    The other issues need to be addressed by competent professionals and rabbonim. If you get comments from Rav Belsky shlita, I think most of us would perk up and listen.

    Please continue to cover this, but this should not have been posted in this way. This needs to be balanced with other information from other hashgochos.

  8. Can you please tell us which meats to avoid if indeed there really is a crisis! What kind of reporting is this to tell us that there are problems and not report which meat to avoid!? The article smacks of a PR stint for the OK Kosher Certification.
    Also can you please clarify if all the meats at OK restaurants are problem free. If they aren’t, the OK shouldnt be so smug and proud of their schittah.
    Also you write “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 blah blah blah, render the meat non-glatt, and sometimes render the meat treif, as well”. As most readers of Yeshiva World eat only glatt meat, this is not a concern at all. When the bodek feels the boils, he will disqualify the meat from being glatt. No cause for alarm at all. Tons of meat is not glatt kosher, who cares why!

  9. According to the OK website Mrs. Dina Fraenkel (author of this article) is the Exec. Secretary to Rabbi C. Fogelman, who is the Director of Public Relations/Education for the OK. How much did the OK pay for this ad?

  10. There is no reason to avoid zebu. A zebu is a cow. It’s the same species as a Jersey or a Holstein or a Black Angus or any other cow. If you want to eat only the breeds that existed in 17th century Poland, you’re out of luck, those breeds don’t exist any more.

    In any case the Torah gives the simanim of a behema, and there is not the slightest indication anywhere in shas or poskim that a land mammal can have both simanim and still be tamei. Adding new criteria sounds like bal tosif.

  11. YW editor,
    My gut feeling is that this is just a marketing type of press release from the OK, not your reporting. If that is the case, it should be clearly labeled as such.

    Many people may think this is what you, an independent reliable news source is reporting as a fact, namely that all meat other than OK has problems. The problem with ppl making that assumption is that most of us readers hold you in high regard and many may take your opinions on these matters at face value without consulting their rov. If they realize its a press release from one particular hechsher, then they may be more likely to ask a reliable rov before assuming all other meat is treif.

    I in no way mean to imply that the OK is not saying the truth in this press release, I have no clue about it. I just think that people should consult their rov before deciding if the problems described in the letter should cause them to change what meat they buy.

  12. The embalming is done with a machine called “rinse & chill”. After the shchita, they pump a liquid (water with some glycerin & other chemicals) into one of the cut neck veins. The liquid helps get rid of the blood that is in the veins & arteries. It makes the meat look better.
    The only Glatt kosher shchita that was using it was Alle Processors (under the Nirbatur Rov) at 2 of their slaughterhouses (Fort Worth & LA).
    At the mass meeting of Rabonim in Williamsburg called by the Satmar Rebbe (KY) this week, many Rabbonim talked about the pros & cons in Halacha (mavlia dam b’eivarim, fills the lungs with liquid making b’dika hard/not accurate). Alle stopped using it this week under intense preassure from several Rabonim. It seems the Nirbatur Rov had let this go on for over a year without confering with other Rabonim. No one knew it was used in the glatt kosher shchitos.

  13. Roland,
    You seem to know what you are talking about, how come there aren’t more sensible people like you? I really have little faith in any kashrut organization but I eat the food anyway because there is no other choice. Going vegetarian is really not a healthy option, maybe in truth it’s all kosher but not up to todays ultra-orthodox standard. Would R’ Akiva eat it, I would say so.

  14. #3- thanks for saying what must be said. this sounds like an advertisement for the OK! This whole letter implies that the OK is the best hashgacha and that the other ones have lower standards- Motzie Shem Ra.

  15. Hey Roland, Maybe the people that wrote this advertisement for ok got a few things mixed up. It could be that instead of the lungs they mean the liver and that would be schistosomiasis. I would assume that free ranged cattle, even if they bloated would die before they were spotted. Finally,didn’t you ever do a DA surgery without puncturing the abomasum either by omentopexy or just catching the serosal surface with the needle? Here also the chance of this occurring in beef cattle and it being noticed is probably extremely rare. Finally, the “emblaming ” fluid is probably a chlorine wash that is exteremely safe to decrease the E. coli population.
    After all of this I’m hungry for a steak
    Shavuah tov

  16. Hey CowDoc,

    A DA has nothing to do with beef as you know. I did about 700 DA surgeries before I left that business and was taught by my employers to always go full thickness so there’d be a little leakage for a better adhesion. Treif for sure. It was only later when a new vet joined our group of 12 and was doing flank omentopexies that I started doing them kosher since the farmers wanted standing surgery (it was eaiser for them. They would leave her in the barn with a note vs being there to roll her). By that time in NY rolling and toggling was becoming popular. It is fast, easy (some farmers were doing on their own) and cheap and definitley treif. I haven’t drunk American chalov stam (Hacoompanies – as Rav Moshe said) since I realized what this was about. No O-U D or OK-D for me. Now there’s a good reason to move to Israel where almost all the milk is cholov yisroel and DA surgery free. (as if mitzvas yishuv haaretz 24/7 was not enough incentive)
    ‘Roland’ (Ziv in heb)

  17. This whole article sounds like a paid advertisment from the OK. Kinda like how certain Frum magazines pretend to write articles about singers but really the singer himself was paying for the article.
    As far as I know, the KCL of Lakewood is really one of the only reliable hechsherim in the world today. They never let pizza shops sell non cholov Yisroel and WOULD never give a hechsher to a Dunkin Donuts r”l.

  18. fist of all I must thankt he OK for being the first to publicly admit there is an issue going on. THE OK was smart to say they ar on top of the situation and there products are not effected.

    I have heard rumors for a few weeks that there was another “meat tumul” yet never saw anything in writing.

    In reagrds to the DA (bloted stomachs) milk cows as well as bulls may have this problem and are considered treif. I Know that the reliable hechserim and mashgichim for HAOLAM, KINOR , KO-SURE and SHEMESH cheeses are makpid to make sure that no DA cows milk are ever used in their production at anytime.

    what happens by shechita – I dont know.

  19. Kosher or not, the question remains…[Although I fail to see the point of #12, 5 & 3.]
    Furthermore one must really understand that the question is not really whether the Kosher is in you, or if you indeed are Kosher !
    Beside which, what about Kosher money?
    I would also put the whole issue into context by reminding you all of the famous reamarks of Kirkegaard who said “when the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality, when the noise of secular life has grown silent and its restless or ineffectual activism has come to an end, as it is in eternity, then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not.

    In closing, lets try to stay focused and positive.
    Ranting gets us nowhere.
    Also a case for brevity and sapiency when dealing with comments.
    Thanx

  20. #6 I believe that most tuberculosis in cattle is intestinal. I would also have to check if indeed there is a tuberculosis problem in cattle in Uruguay.
    #18 See the other articles on this website about herpes vaccines to prevent cervical cancer and how many readers are agianst it because they falsley believe that all people with headcoverings either male or female are totally observant concerning the laws that we admit to sahyin vidui on erev yom kippur

  21. att#17 cowdoc.

    the cows are located asap and I have personaly seen 350 out of 10,000 cows havinghad DA surgery.
    So I am not sure how you can state that”even if they bloated would die before they were spotted. ”

    the cows have this situation many times after giving birth. They are evaluated every time they give milk (2-3 times daily)and if something is not correct they are moved to the hospital area onthe farm for care.

    free grazing cows are left in open air gated areas vs indoor gated areas with covered roofs yet walls are open and ventilated.

  22. YW Editor,
    Keep up your good work! Your information is a great service to us, especially regarding kashrus.
    I thank the OK and all other kosher organizations who make it their priority to inform their kosher consumers of any new developments, directly , not by word of mouth from all those bloggers out there with time on their hands. Unlike some hecsheirim who only care to get new business, the ok spends time communicating to us.

  23. raboisai i mamish dont chap the gantzeh handel over here its a peleh how anyone would begin to beleive such news ther are kama v’kama rayos that this is sheker aleph;where are the rabbonim if was takeh true bais; this is sfek sfieka d’lo mishapech we only have one side (vihamaivin yovin) gimmel;the rav is a mishichist that gives him a chezkas tarfus any talmud of rav shach will tell you its karov l’avodah zora so stam ich fashtei nisht how you could eat there stam azoi LIHAVDIL WE MUST FEAL OUR LOSS OF HAGOEN HARAV REB SMUEL BERENBAUM ZT”L MAY HE BE A MEILITZ YOSHER AMEN!!!

  24. “Must Chabad in Argentina don’t eat from Feigelstock’s schechitah, but they eat sometimes their own (Rabbi Baumgarten)”

    Rabbi Baumgarten is actually a shochet for Quality Meats in Uruguay.

    “Recently Rabbi David Steigman from the OK visited the slaughterhouse, although he admited not be a shochet, or to have proper Hargosho…..”

    In addition, I personally know Rabbi Steigman. He has been a shochet for over 25 years and has shechted for Alle and other big companies.

    For all of you who are bashing this “PR Stint,” a Press Release is not meant to be an unbiased news reporting. A Press Release is submitted to news agencies by a company, or a group, to publicize something regarding their group that is newsworthy.

  25. #24 Bloat and DA are two different conditions The first is caused by a buildup of gas in the rumen the other is a displacement of the abomasum. As I said both are rare in beef cattle if they happen at all, and if a bull or steer or cow bloated on a pasture, and as is in the case of South America often these cattle are seen only once or twice a year,and was severe, they would probably die simply because they were not observed . Dairy cattle are different, they are observed at least twice a day and should bloat occurr would be treated. DA is a problem of high yielding dairy cows and as previously explained would make dairy cows traif, not beef cattle.

    My question to Roland is how do we eat Hershey chocolate and what brand of beer do you recommend to drink insead of milk in areas where cholov yisrael is not to be found.

    My final statement is the question is not whether Moshe Rabenu would eat at your house, rather could any of us eat at his?

  26. Hey Cowdoc (#30)
    1) From when the whole DA thing broke more than 10 years ago (has it been 15?) I don’t eat Hershey’s Chocolate (even if the cows I worked on were not more than an hour from Hershey PA) or other O-U D. I have become quite partial to eating Egozi actually.
    2) I really enjoy a Guiness dark ale on a hot summer day but a Silver bullet (Coors) will do in a pinch. I was going down the shedrow at a racing stable as the old Irish trainer was mixing the feed tubs. He had cases of the dark lager and was pouring a tall boy in for each horse and taking a swig for himself. I got some too 😉
    3) Here in the holy land there is nothing wrong with Birat Nesher.
    As I said before, in Israel it is hard to find products with non-cholov Yisrael instead of the opposite in Chu”L. Come home.
    And finally, there were no DA’s in Moshe Rabbeinus day.
    BTW, there aren’t too many frum vets.

  27. Roland,

    If you got the Guiness I’ve got the kid in the freezer, probably slaughtered with a sharper knife than Moshe had. Call me to arrange a date.