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Congress Hears Opposing Jewish Views on Regulation of Kosher Poultry

February 23, 1968
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Conflicting views from Jewish spokesmen on application of proposed federal inspection laws to kosher poultry were presented yesterday to a House Agriculture subcommittee.

The subcommittee is considering a bill to protect consumers from diseased poultry. Under an exemption in a 1957 law, kosher processing plants may ship poultry that is only de-feathered and neither eviscerated nor inspected by qualified federal inspectors. The spokesmen were Lee Katz, representing Empire Kosher Poultry Co. of Pennsylvania; Rabbi Alexander S. Rosenberg, rabbinic administrator of the Kosher Certification Service of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations; Herbert Ferater, a New York attorney representing kosher chicken processors in Sullivan County, N.Y.; and Rabbi Meyer Greenberg of Paterson, N.J.

Mr. Katz told the hearing that “a considerable quantity of diseased chickens reach the consumer in a condition not fit for human consumption.” He said the 1957 exemption was granted on the “mistaken premise” that the typical Jewish housewife was capable somehow of detecting diseased chickens, could eviscerate a chicken and had rabbinical authorities immediately available to examine the fowl. Asserting that there was nothing in Jewish Dietary laws which holds that kosher poultry “should not be eviscerated,” Mr. Katz said that rabbinical groups would much prefer that poultry be eviscerated under federal and rabbinical inspection at the plant level to insure kashruth and purity.

Mr. Ferater asked the committee to leave the matter to the Secretary of Agriculture and added that Congress should not get involved with “the conflicting opinions of rabbis.” He said he favored an administration bill which would give the states two more years to establish poultry inspection systems.

Rabbi Rosenberg said that while it was true that housewives should have a chance to see for themselves the opening of poultry, “this has become academic today.” Sales of pre-packaged eviscerated kosher poultry, prepared under rabbinic inspection, have grown substantially in recent years. Rabbi Greenberg urged the subcommittee to draft a law forbidding sale of non-eviscerated poultry. The issue came before Congress because of evidence that much diseased poultry was being sold to unsuspecting consumers.

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