Israeli and Australian authorities to investigate Tnuva over alleged animal cruelty

TV report about company’s Beit She’an slaughterhouse showed multiple instances of abuse against cows, many of them imported from Down Under

Illustrative photo of cows at a livestock farm (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of cows at a livestock farm (photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry and the Australian Department of Agriculture have both opened investigations against Israeli food conglomerate Tnuva over charges of animal abuse at the slaughterhouse of one of the company’s subsidiaries.

The Channel 2 investigative program “Kolbotek” aired an exposé last Thursday in which an undercover reporter — posing as a meat worker at the “Adom Adom” slaughterhouse in Beit She’an — filmed several examples of the abuse. Footage showed employees using stun guns on the genitals and eyes of the cattle, as well as a manager watching a calf being dragged by a forklift.

Several employees told the reporter that management’s instructions included shocking the cattle in the rear end to move them forward to the slaughterhouse if they refused to budge.

Immediately following the broadcast, Tnuva’s Facebook page was inundated with messages calling for a boycott of Adom Adom meat products and Tnuva dairy products as well.

The undercover reporter, Ronen Bar, said that based on the cattle’s ear tags and on discussions with other employees and managers, he learned that most of the cattle being abused had been imported from Australia — Israel’s largest provider of cattle for meat.

Since the show was aired last week, the Australian Department of Agriculture has opened its own investigation, in conjunction with Israeli authorities, to ensure that the animals shipped from the country were treated in the most humane manner possible.

On Monday, which happened to be International Animal Rights Day, hundreds of protesters demonstrated in Tel Aviv, demanding the resignation of the CEO of Tnuva.

Israeli groups “Anonymous for Animal Rights” and “Let the Animals Live” filed a complaint with police, writing that “the criminal responsibility for this animal abuse falls first and foremost on Tnuva and on the management of the slaughterhouses.”

On Sunday, Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan called for a criminal investigation into the allegations exposed by the video, saying: “There is no reason for animals to endure such horrible abuse.”

This is not the first time such abuses have been uncovered. In September 2011, “Anonymous for Animal Rights” released a report that mentioned many similar abuses at the Adom Adom slaughterhouse. That investigation, however, did not receive nearly as much play as the Kolbotek report aired last week.

In a statement released on the heels of last week’s program, Adom Adom CEO Erez Wolf said that “everything we saw [in the video footage] is completely unacceptable to us.”

Following an initial in-house investigation, Wolf announced that he had accepted the resignation of the slaughterhouse manager and had fired all employees who had taken part in the abusive practices.

To boot, cameras have been installed in the pens, so that Wolf can personally ensure that the company’s policies of humane animal treatment are, in fact, being followed.

“We will continue to be very strict about quality, not only in terms of our excellent products, but also in terms of prevention of cruelty to animals,” said Wolf. “The extreme examples that we have seen here will never happen again.”

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