Star-K Commends USDA’s National Organic Standards Board’s Position on Shechitah


schuchman-star-kThe American Torah community had a taste of what the European Torah community has been experiencing regarding shechita (ritual slaughter) when organic shechita was jeopardized in September, 2010, a few months prior to the bi-annual meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The Livestock Committee’s proposal had challenged the thousands of years old Torah-mandated practice, here in the States.

STAR-K Kosher Certification took it upon itself to be proactive. On November 29, STAR-K Kashrus Administrator, Rabbi Moshe Schuchman, made a presentation which enlightened the attendees of the NOSB meeting, in Savannah, Georgia, about the Torah’s humane, painless form of slaughter. The 15-member NOSB is the advisory board of the National Organic Program (NOP) that works under the auspices of the US Department of Agriculture.

“I thanked the board and encouraged them to allow shechita to be considered a humane form of slaughter acceptable for organic standards,” explains Rabbi Schuchman, who says that STAR-K was alerted to the impending problem of the threat to shechita, by prominent Washington attorney, Richard Siegel. “Mr. Siegel guided me for the past 14 months on how to deal with the issue. He used his expertise in this area solely as a service to Klal Yisroel.”

In his statement before the board, Rabbi Schuchman quoted Dr. Temple Grandin, the world famous expert on humane slaughter practices, who has long championed the practice of shechita. Interestingly, since the Livestock Committee’s proposal was made, Dr. Wendy Fulwider has taken over as chair of the Livestock Committee. Dr. Fulwider studied under, and has great admiration for, Dr. Temple Grandin. She was evidently in a position to bring her professional knowledge to bear on the ritual slaughter issue; because of her background she was able to see beyond rhetoric, which is often emotion based, and recognize the scientific facts.

Rabbi Schuchman also made the board aware of the fact that in addition to certifying food as compliant with kosher standards, STAR-K has been partnering with Quality Assurance International (QAI), for the past 3-1/2 years, to provide organic certification, as well. He explained that although kosher-organic certified meat and poultry suppliers only number a handful, today, the market has potential for dramatic growth, for there is a growing consumer base interested in kosher grass-fed, antibiotic-free meat. In addition, he informed the board that STAR-K supervised slaughterhouses in Baltimore comply with the Committee’s recommendation that, during ritual slaughter, animals should  be held in a comfortable upright position-which is not a requirement for kosher slaughter. STAR-K encourages this practice wherever kosher slaughter takes place.

“In addition to Mr. Richard Siegel, I would like to thank the Association of Kashrus Organization’s (AKO’s) Executive Director Rabbi Sholem Fishbane and Professor Joe Regenstein, of Cornell University, for the parts they played in keeping STAR-K abreast of ongoing developments affecting the legality of shechita around the world,” notes Rabbi Schuchman.

“Rabbi Schuchman did an excellent job before the NOSB, having come well prepared,” said Mr. Siegel. “One of the NOSB members, Calvin Walker, praised the “good news” that the ritual slaughter community was satisfied with the Livestock Committee’s conclusion that ritual slaughter was compatible with organic standards.”

“It was a pleasure to participate in the NOSB meeting and make a contribution to the so-far successful resolution of this issue,” concludes Rabbi Schuchman.

{Margie Newscenter}


  1. Good article – informative and unslanted. Also makes us aware of issues which we should pay attention to – like the fact that there is opposition to schechitah here too, and not just from PETA type weirdos.

  2. Excellent article. Organic is so important today more than ever, as everything has been polluted in the food chain, from high doses of pesticides and the injection of these pesticides right into the seeds and, of course, the GMO’s, which we do not have any idea of how it is affecting our health. Also, regular cattle are being fed carcasses of animals. In other words, everything that is against G-D’s nature. That’s really scary.