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Shechita in England Under Threat Once Again

A major supplier of kosher meat to England has shut down. McDonald’s denies it issued a “shut down your kosher plant or else” ultimatum.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/25/2010, 11:05 AM / Last Update: 10/25/2010, 10:44 AM

A major supplier of kosher meat to England has shut down. McDonald’s denies it issued a “shut down your kosher plant or else” ultimatum.

Slaney Foods in County Wexford, Ireland, which supplies kosher meat for the London Board for Shechita (LBS), announced this past week that “We have made the decision not to have religious slaughter."

The London-based Jewish Chronicle reports that the McDonald’s chain, which is also supplied by Slaney, denied rumors of its involvement in the decision. It is McDonald’s policy not to use meat that is religiously slaughtered, such as kosher or halal. Following concerns that halal meat had been mistakenly used for some McDonald’s chicken products, the company asked all suppliers to "reiterate that their meat was not slaughtered in that way.”

Shortly thereafter, Slaney announced its decision – denying that they had been pressured by McDonald’s.  The Chronicle quoted Slaney's managing director Rory Fanning as saying, "It's not that we are doing it because someone was influencing us outside the company. We made the decision ourselves… There has been a lot of media coverage of ritual slaughter, and it was in the context of that, that the decision was made. I'm not saying it's the right decision. I am very hesitant."

LBS was not consulted about or informed of the decision in advance.

McDonald's said there had apparently been a misunderstanding: “If Slaney has stopped producing kosher meat as a result of our non-specification, then there has been a misunderstanding. Our supply chain is in discussion with the Slaney abattoir to ensure they can continue to produce kosher meat separately to their production of traceable, non-kosher meat for McDonald's UK."

Jewish Concern
Though a solution for Slaney therefore appears in sight, Jewish consumers are concerned. Jacky Lipowicz, chair of the Kosher Licensed Butchers' Association, said, "Shechitah is under threat once again. The constant harassment of shechitah has led to this situation."

New Zealand Jewry Fights for its Life
 In New Zealand, shechita has recently been outlawed altogether, though the ban has been put on hold as the Jewish Community takes the government to court over it. The country’s two largest Jewish communities have initiated a joint struggle to “Save the Future of Judaism in New Zealand” by ensuring that shechita is legalized.

A statement issued by the Auckland Hebrew Congregation and the Wellington Jewish Community Center reads in part: 

“New Zealand recently became the first country in the world to outlaw kosher slaughter since the Nazis enacted similar legislation in Europe over 70 years ago. New Zealand Jews may soon be the only Jews in the world who can no longer eat chicken. Your children or grandchildren may never experience a Passover with chicken soup and matzah balls, or ask the meaning of the lamb shank on your family’s Seder plate.

“Some kosher meat (but not chicken) may be able to be imported, for a limited period.  It is likely, however, that if we lose the right to practice shechita, then the ability to import kosher meat will soon follow.

“The absence of kosher meat will mean we can’t engage Rabbis or Youth Leaders. It will mean our religious families will be forced to leave New Zealand. Few Jews will want to migrate here.  We will be seen as a country where Jews are not welcome, and where our traditions and beliefs are not respected or valued. Our rich New Zealand Jewish history and culture, dating back over 170 years to the earliest days of New Zealand settlement, may soon become a distant memory.”

“The leaders of the Jewish communities in New Zealand feel so strongly about this that they are going to Court to challenge the Government…  We need the support of every Jew in New Zealand. Whether you keep kosher, observe Shabbat, or not, we must stand together. Your religious, cultural and social future is under threat…”