Europe’s only kosher slaughterhouse for geese switches to chicken due to virus


(JTA) — A kosher slaughterhouse for geese in Hungary, which specializes in foie gras, switched to producing chicken meat to mitigate a projected shortfall in kosher meat due to the coronavirus.

At the slaughterhouse in Csengele, which is 80 miles southeast of Budapest, about 10,000 chickens will be slaughtered each day, Rabbi Shlomo Koves, who heads Hungary’s Chabad-affiliated EMIH Jewish federation, said Thursday.

As a slaughterhouse for geese, the Csengele institution, Quality Poultry KFT, had a capacity of only 2,400 animals a day when it opened in 2017. It is the only kosher slaughterhouse for geese in Europe, providing foie gras – a delicacy made from goose liver – to France, Israel and beyond.

The switch to chicken is meant to alleviate what Koves expects to be a growing shortage in kosher meat in Europe at least because of the virus.

Travel restrictions have made it impossible for rabbis, slaughterers and kashrut inspectors to travel across Europe. This means that many kosher slaughterhouses that operated on an ad hoc basis can no longer provide kosher meat. Ad hoc kosher slaughterhouses, mainly in Poland and other parts of central Europe, account for a significant portion of the total produced in Europe.

Additionally, kosher slaughterhouses in Western Europe have shuttered temporarily — also because many of their laborers are foreign nationals from elsewhere in Europe and have returned to their countries of origin because of the virus.

England and France “provide for us with the consumption of our kosher products” yearlong, Koves said. “Now it is our turn to look after them.”

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