Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Tammuz 5762 - June 13, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Kosher Meat at Low Risk for Mad Cow Disease
by S. Baruchi

Kosher beef purchased at authorized locations poses no risk to consumers says Dr. Alex Levental, head of Public Health Services at the Ministry of Health. "Shechita has a big advantage in terms of protecting against mad-cow disease. [At non-kosher slaughterhouses they] stun the cow before slaughtering it, causing the [type of] protein that causes the disease to leave the brain and disperse throughout the body. As a result the disease spreads."

The official explained that the disease virus lives only in nervous tissue and especially the brain. Many non-kosher methods of killing the animals involved damage to the brain, either from a blow or from a stake driven through the brain, that causes the germs to travel from the brain to the surrounding meat. The shechitah process, besides being more humane, does not cause contact between nerve tissue and the meat. Thus, kosher consumers have much less to fear from the incurable disease.

Imported frozen meat in Israel is also completely safe because for several years import permits in Israel have only been issued for beef from countries that have not reported even a single incident of mad-cow disease.

The Golan Heights cow that died last week was stricken with BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), commonly known as mad- cow disease, the Ministry of Agriculture's veterinary services department confirmed last week. The findings, based on lab tests of a brain sample sent to the Animal Health Organization in Bern, Switzerland, supported the preliminary diagnosis made in Israel. The dead animal was a 10-year-old milk cow at Kibbutz Ortal on the Golan Heights.

The health ministry recommended people buy meat only in licensed stores and eat only in licensed restaurants. Some 80 million kilos of beef, half of it imported frozen and the rest fresh and locally produced, are consumed in Israel each year.

The Golan dairy where the first Israeli case of BSE was confirmed, continued to operate as normal. All other cows will be tested. So far no further evidence of the disease has been found. The disease is not passed on in milk.


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