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Maryland’s Only Kosher Poultry Processing Plant to Remain Closed Pending Hearing

Maryland’s only kosher poultry slaughter and processing plant will remain closed pending a hearing on June 9. Pen-Mar Poultry, Inc. located in this city, was closed down last week because of what Dr. Robert J. Lee, chief of Maryland’s meat and poultry inspection division, termed as “gross unsanitary operative conditions” in the plant. Dr. Lee said the products prepared were subjected to bacteria, with insect and vermin control almost completely lacking. Rabbi Leopold Fischer, the plant’s ritual slaughterer and spiritual leader of Congregation Zera Israel here, denied the charges and attributed any shortcomings to the upkeep of outmoded machinery. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “Our chickens are clean.” He further stated that the 1,500 families who normally get their poultry from Pen-Mar are now being forced to import chickens from New Jersey and New York. According to Dr. Lee, state inspectors have been working closely with the Pen-Mar management since the beginning of the year in an effort to upgrade the facilities, but have been met with “extreme verbal abuse” by the staff. He further stated that “Not once have they (Pen-Mar) asked to have inspection reinstated since its suspension on May 25.” By law, state inspection is required to maintain operations. Rabbi Fischer confirmed that friction exists between management and State inspectors.

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