Slaney calls a halt to kosher meat slaughter
Slaney Meats has halted production of kosher meat at its Bunclody, Co Wexford, plant in response to growing negative publicity about ritual slaughter of animals from British groups.
Slaney Meats managing director Rory Fanning confirmed that the company had ceased kosher slaughter within the past month.
However, he rejected any suggestion that pressure from McDonald's, one of Slaney's biggest customers, was behind the move to stop ritual slaughter.
"It was a decision we made ourselves," he insisted. "In recent times, especially in the British media, it [religious slaughter] has taken on a big profile."
Jewish dietary laws dictate that meat is only kosher if it is produced by shechita, the ritual slaughter whereby an extremely sharp blade is used to cut the trachea, oesophagus, carotid arteries and jugular veins, after which the blood is allowed to drain out. The animal must be healthy and free from injury and cannot be stunned prior to slaughter, as it would be in conventional slaughter.
Several high-profile newspaper campaigns in Britain have highlighted supermarkets and retailers selling kosher and halal-slaughtered meat, without labelling it or informing the customers of the slaughter methods.
Mr Fanning refused to confirm how much meat was produced by Slaney by kosher methods, but said it was, "very small in the overall context".
A spokesman for McDonald's in Ireland said the company did not serve religiously certified food products and kosher meat was outside of McDonald's specification. He maintained the Slaney move to stop producing kosher meat was unrelated to their position on the matter. "McDonald's had no influence on their decision. It was a business decision for Slaney Meats," he said.