Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ethics and Kosher Meat

Luis Molina lost part of his middle finger to a 2,000-pound food mixer while working at what is now the country’s largest producer of kosher beef, Alle Processing.

Molina, 23, said that the accident, which happened when a fellow employee flipped a power switch, was not a surprise, given that he and others on his team had not received safety training. But he also said that what’s happened since then has added insult to injury.

The company, which operates a plant in Queens, stopped his pay the same hour he got injured, he said, leaving him in the lurch financially. Then, he continued, when he went into the office to talk to his supervisor, he was told that when he returned to work he would be suspended for four weeks without pay, because he used the machine improperly. After three years with the company, Molina said even this was not unexpected.

“They love suspending people there for any little thing,” Molina said while recuperating at his home in Brooklyn as his two children ran around him. “Two weeks, three weeks, they think it’s a joke ’cause they got that little power.”

The company did not respond to numerous phone messages and declined to meet when the Forward visited the plant.

For the past two years, all eyes have been on the working conditions at the nation’s largest producer of kosher beef and chicken — Agriprocessors — and the scrutiny has grown more intense since May, when Agriprocessors’ Iowa slaughterhouse was the subject of a massive immigration raid. Even before the raid, the ethics behind kosher food production had become a topic of national debate as some rabbis argued that the treatment of workers in the plants should be considered along with the methods of slaughter prescribed by Jewish law.

Read it all here.

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