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Kosher Slaughtering

There has been a lot of controversy lately about kosher methods of slaughtering meat. I always thought that kosher was more humane, but now I’m hearing a lot of negative press. What exactly does kosher slaughter involve?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Besides being from a kosher species, kosher meat requires that the animal/bird be slaughtered in the manner prescribed by the Torah (Shechita). (Fish do not have this requirement.) In this procedure, a trained kosher slaughterer (shochet) severs the trachea and esophagus of the animal with a special razor-sharp knife. This also severs the jugular vein, causing instantaneous death with no pain to the animal.

After the animal/bird has been properly slaughtered, its internal organs are inspected (bedika) for any physiological abnormalities that may render the animal non-kosher (treif). The lungs, in particular, must be examined to determine that there are no adhesions (sirchot) which may be indicative of a puncture in the lungs.

Further, animals contain many veins (e.g. Gid HaNashe) and fats (chelev) that are forbidden by the Torah and must be removed. The procedure of removal is called "Nikkur," and it is quite complex. In practice today, the hind quarter of most kosher animals is simply removed and sold as non-kosher meat.

Finally, since the Torah forbids eating of the blood, the blood of an animal or bird must be removed through a process of salting. The entire surface of meat must be covered with coarse salt. It is then left for an hour on an inclined or perforated surface to allow the blood to flow down freely. The meat is then thoroughly washed to remove all salt. Meat must be koshered within 72 hours after slaughter so as not to permit the blood to congeal. (An alternate means of removing the blood is through broiling on a perforated grate over an open fire.)

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