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Lawmakers criticize Agriprocessors

Twelve Jewish members of Congress expressed concern over the practices of a leading kosher meat producer.

In a letter Tuesday to Aaron Rubashkin, owner of the embattled kosher meat producer Agriprocessors, the lawmakers said they were “stunned” and “disgusted” by allegations against the company and its apparent flouting of Jewish and American law.

The letter noted the company’s hiring of hundreds of illegal immigrants, opposition to a unionization effort at its New York distributorship, and its numerous citations by federal regulators. It also expressed concern over allegations that it had knowingly employed child laborers, housed a methamphetamine laboratory at its Postville, Iowa, slaughterhouse, and participated in a Social Security card-forgery ring.

“If these many and varied allegations prove to be true, aside from personal criminal liability, such conduct would be a blot on the reputation of the kosher food industry,” the letter said.

Agriprocessors has denied most of the allegations against it and has said it is looking forward to its day in court.

Among the signatories are U.S. Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), and Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.).

The lawmakers requested “a detailed explanation” of measures the company intends to implement to address its “systemic problems and to ensure the humane and ethical treatment of both workers and animals in accordance with both U.S. laws and Jewish standards.”

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