Jul 5, 2017

Eida chickens might have a problem

The Eida Hachareidis has been involved in a kashrus issue for a bit of time now that might finally be coming to an end.

It really hit the public eye when the heads of the Eida and its kashrus division met with Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel. Considering the Eida being an anti-Zionist organization, this meeting raised eyebrows. The Eida people responded that they have always believed in "shtadlanus" and that's what this meeting was about, for a specific purpose.

A while ago an Eida shochet publicized that many of the problems with Eida chickens being treif from problems in the "tzomet hagidin" - the sinews and ligaments found in the lower leg (i.e. the polkie) - were caused by the method and content of vaccinations employed by the Eida. The way they vaccinated did not allow the substance to get absorbed in the flesh of the chicken but trickled down in the body and caused problems in the legs. The Eida uses a different method than other kashrut organizations for the vaccinations, and because of that it seems they are the only ones affected in this way.

That caused a bit of a stir that eventually died down a bit, but the issue in general recently came to the forefront, and it seems the Eida is looking into alternatives to this method, and that was the focus of the meeting with the Israeli minister. They are specifically looking into the possibility of vaccinating using some sort of aerosol spray. Minister Ariel agreed to look into the matter and after consulting with the chief veterinarian has decided to approve of a pilot to test the viability of this method.

The problem might be solved, or at least near a solution.

A new problem has now been raised by a number of shochtim and rabbonim, as a result of this. They suggest that the Eida's investigation into an alternative method is basically a de facto admission into the fact that until now they have been selling [many] treif chickens as kosher (mehadrin at the top level). Otherwise they would reject the idea of change and double down saying this is the mesora and accepted way of doing it. While kudos for looking into makign a change, the change means the previous method was no good. The rabbonim suggest that people who buy Eida chickens, and that includes caterers and restaurants and private people and many more, might very well have to kasher all their pots and dishes.
source: Behadrei

We wait for more information.

Whether you trust them anyway or whether you do not trust them or whatever your position is on the Eida, my point is that mistakes and mess-ups happen with every hechsher, from the "best" to the "worst" (however one might define those categories), and what really interests me in a hechsher is how they learn from their mistakes and work to fix them and prevent them in the future. If you only eat a specific hechsher because they never make mistakes, it just means they are not telling you about their mistakes and you have no idea if they are being worked on and if they are working to improve their methods..

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  1. Can you give us the original article in hebrew as a link?

    1. here are links to a couple of articles from when the issue was first raised in public a year and a half ago..

    2. Thank you. Do you have anything about the meeting with the minister?

    3. from a week ago..

  2. I have heard from a very senior member of the Israeli Rabbanut (people who know me can guess how senior) who said that many of the recognized well respected "Mehadrin" hashgachot have a much lower standard of kashrut than regular Rabbanut. He wouldn't mention names, but he did say that some of them shecht far more animals / hour for each shochet, and reject a much smaller number than the regular rabbanut. (Other "mehadrin" hashgachot reject more animals and process fewer per hour).
    Bottom line is that just because a hashgacha advertised itself as mehadrin, does not necessarily mean that it is better or worse than any other hasgacha.

  3. Some back story before people use this as a chance to bash the Eida. I'll start off by saying that I am not involved in shechita or kashrus, and live in America altogether. I happened to look into the issue when it arose because I found it interesting:

    Rav Nachum Yavrov shlit"a who publicized the issue is not an eida shocheit, he is one of the head shochtim for Sheeris Yisroel. For many years he has had a disagreement with the eida about the proper location for vaccinating the chickens. Sheeris Yisroel, like most hashgachos gives the vaccination in the chest of the chicken. Rav Meir Brandsdorfer zt"l many years ago objected to this, he felt there was a high chance of the needle puncturing the lung and creating an undetectable treifa. He instructed the Eida to administer the vaccine in the leg of the chicken.

    About a year and a half ago it was noticed that many of the eida chickens had a white goo around the tzomes hagidin. Originally this was believed to be deteriorating flesh.

    The "tzomes hagidin" is a collection of gidin around the foot of the chicken, if any of them are broken then the chicken is a treifa. The Rema is of the opinion that we can no longer properly check the tzomes hagidin so if there is any רעותא in the area of the tzomes hagidin we treat it as a treifa. Rav Yavrov's argument was that this white goo constitutes a רעותא and the chickens were treifos. He felt that the Eida mashgichim were not properly discovering this issue because the eida checks the tzomes hagidin lower on the yellow part of the leg, and not higher up near the chicken leg we eat, like some hashgachos. (In America almost no hashgachos check the tzomes hagidin of each chicken, but it is almost universal among the mehadrin hashgachos in Israel.)

    The Eida's response to this was that this white goo was actually coagulated vaccine which had not properly been absorbed in the body because of an extremely cold winter. They argued that the tzomes hagidin was completely intact, and this goo did not constitute a רעותא because it was simply on top of the tzomes hagidin, and not an issue with the tzomes hagidin itself. Their were many kuntreisim written back and forth on the subject, and my personal opinion (for whatever it is worth) is that the majority of Rabbonim sided with the Eida that the chickens were kosher - even if some felt it would be better to avoid the whole issue by not vaccinating in the leg.

    The controversy mostly fell by the wayside because the weather warmed up and efforts were made to ensure that the vaccine absorbed properly, so the white goo stopped occurring. There was some talk about the Eida moving to more expensive oral vaccines in the chicken feed to avoid the entire issue (I believe Rav Landau uses these.) I don't know if they ever did, but this meeting may be connected to that.

    With all due respect to the anonymous shochtim quoted in the article, this seems more like a business decision than an admittance of guilt. Supposedly the sales of their chicken really dropped from this controversy.

    1. Rav Meir Brandsdorfer zt"l many years ago objected to this, he felt there was a high chance of the needle puncturing the lung and creating an undetectable treifa.

      If it's undetectable, why would it constitute a treifa? Shouldn't we never eat chicken, then, because something might have caused an undetectable treifa?

  4. Is this the reason for tearing open the legs of chickens? I find it very obnoxious to clean and cook these legs. In America we never had this situation.

    1. yes, though there are hechshers here in Israel that do not split the legs, like in the USA. Splitting the back of the chicken is also a difference. Some hechshers here split it open for more thorough salting, while in the USA they do not.

    2. There are Hechsherim in the States that split the backs. Have been doing it for years.

    3. Splitting the backs can cause other issues when kashering the chickens, as it is required that all exposed parts of the chicken be coated with salt as part of the kashering process - and it's difficult to get the salt to adhere to the bone that's exposed when the back is split. If the back is not split, the issue is getting the salt to fully coat the interior cavity of the chicken - but at least the salt adheres easily to the flesh inside the cavity.

      By being machmir on one thing, they're being meikil on another. Not saying one's better than the other, but there are pluses and minuses to each.


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