Poultry shortage in London after 80 percent declared non-kosher

Poultry has gone off the menu for many Orthodox London Jews because 80 percent of the chickens that have been slaughtered for them were declared not kosher.

“We apologize to the public for the shortage of chickens in the recent/current week/s,” according to an announcement dated March 7 by the Kashrut Committee of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.

The shortages are due to kashrut supervisors “finding up to 80 percent treifoth” -- Hebrew for non-kosher meat – “despite the fact that the poultry was purchased from farms with good quality chickens. We are endeavoring B'ezras Hashem to find a speedy solution,” said the statement by the body responsible for haredi Jewish life in London, adding the birds were found to have “torn sinews.”

The Israel-based news site Behadrey Haredim reported that the problem described matched the symptoms caused by a virus which appeared in U.S. kosher chicken plants since the summer of 2012, which causes the tendons to stiffen and then snap.

But while the problem occurred in only 25 percent of birds in the U.S., it is threatening to shut down the kosher poultry industry in London ahead of Passover, when countless Jewish families consume the traditional holiday dish of matzah balls and chicken soup.

Behadrey Hadarim quoted an unnamed rabbinical judge who said that if infection rates reach 90 percent, supervisors may need to declare the entire produce non-kosher, in keeping with past rulings by authorities on kashrut issues. In such a case, chicken would have to be imported to the United Kingdom, causing a considerable markup.

Thousands of Orthodox Londoners tried but could not purchase kosher chicken, the news website reported.


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