The Forward has been at the leading edge of reporting on a now national story about kosher meat and the conditions in which it is produced. Much of what has appeared in the pages of The New York Times and Wall Street Journal on this topic began with a May 2006 exposé by the Forward’s Nathaniel Popper on the working conditions at the country’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, run by Agriprocessors.
Before this, Agriprocessors had been the target of an undercover investigation by the animal rights group PETA. Issues relating to the treatment of animals were explored further in a Forward investigation that looked at the method of slaughter practiced in South America known as shackle-and-hoist.
But it is questions about the treatment of workers that have rocked the industry. First, Conservative rabbis responded to the Forward’s reporting by visiting Agriprocessors and initiating a new program, known as Hekhsher Tzedek, that intends to monitor labor conditions at kosher production facilities. After that development, Agriprocessors was the subject of a massive immigration raid that drew national media attention.
Since the raid, the Forward has continued its groundbreaking reporting. An article in the Forward about the immigration and labor issues at Agriprocessors’s Brooklyn warehouse led to editorials in The Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times. Most recently, the Forward took the story in a new direction by looking at working conditions at Agriprocessors’s long-time rival, Alle Processing, and the broader kosher industry. For a look at how this story developed, here are links to the Forward’s coverage of the kosher meat industry over the past several years.
12/24/08 — Kosher Industry’s Woes Reach a Poor Village in Guatemala12/11/08 — How the Rubashkins Changed the Way Jews Eat in America12/11/08 — Debate Highlights the Politics of Kosher Food, From Left, Right and Center11/26/08 — Workers at Alle Kosher Meat Plant Reject Union in Contested Vote11/20/08 — Kosher Updates: A New Arrest and More11/20/08 — Turkey Trouble: Turmoil in Kosher Industry Affects Thanksgiving Meal11/13/08 — After Jail, Agriprocessors Workers Face a Difficult Journey11/10/08 — Fresh Out of Prison With No Means of Support, Slaughterhouse Workers Tell Their Stories11/7/08 — Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu To Visit Postville11/6/08 — Shelves Empty as Three Plants Stop Beef Production11/6/08 — Agriprocessors’ Bankruptcy Leaves Iowa Town Flailing11/5/08 — Agriprocessors Files for Bankruptcy11/3/08 — Third Kosher Slaughterhouse Halts Production, Heightening Worries About Meat Shortage11/3/08 — Slaughterhouse’s Woes Leave Plant’s Diverse Workforce Idle11/2/08 — Gruesome Scenes From the Poultry Line Are a Sign of Agriprocessors’ Troubles10/31/08 — Bank Initiates Foreclosure on Kosher Meat Producer10/30/08 — Kosher Plant Struggles as Owner Faces Arrest and Fines10/29/08 — Agriprocessors Hit With $10 Million in Fines10/2/08 — Orthodox Rabbis To Set Voluntary Guidelines for Kosher Businesses9/25/08 — Averting Kosher Crisis, Meat Giant Hires Long-time Attorney to be New CEO9/24/08 — Congressmen Take on Agriprocessors in Public Letter9/11/08 — Conservative Movement Finds Unity in Promoting New Hekhsher Guidelines9/10/08 — Kosher Industry Looks To Future in Wake of Agriprocessors Charges9/4/08 — Workers Speak Out at Nation’s New Leading Kosher Producer9/4/08 — As Industry Faces Criticism, a Look at How the Kosher Sausage Gets Made8/27/08 — Editorial: Not Free To Desist8/14/08 — In Rubashkins’ Backyard, Another Tale of Labor Strife8/14/08 — Kosher Fight Turns Rabbis on Each Other8/7/08 — Editorial: Judging Character — And Kashrut8/7/08 — Store Owners Shift Gears as Meat Prices Rise8/6/08— Slaughterhouse Accused of Child Labor Violations8/5/08 — Orthodox Leaders Tour Agriprocessors, Give Plant Clean Bill of Health7/31/08 — Ethical Guidelines for Kosher Food Released7/10/08 — Flacks for Agriprocessors Admit Online Impersonation of Meat Company’s Critics6/26/09 — Kosher Meat Giant Kicks Off P.R. Blitz6/19/08 — In Heated Meeting, Orthodox Activists Spar With Kosher Meat Company6/5/08 — News From Postville May Be Treyf, but Kosher Consumers Keep Buying6/5/08 — Kosher Industry Lacks Contingency Plan5/29/08 — Kosher Plant Workers Find Refuge in Local Church5/29/08 — Editorial: The Raid in Postville5/12/08 — Immigration Authorities Arrest Hundreds in Raid on Nation’s Largest Kosher Meat Plant4/30/08 — Activists Who Exposed Meat Industry Reveal Their Own (Kosher) Identity3/24/08 — Iowa Fines AgriProcessors for Labor Violations2/21/08 — Chief Rabbis Repeat Promise To End Slaughter Method2/13/08 — Widespread Slaughter Method Scrutinized for Alleged Cruelty1/9/08 — Kashrut Certifiers Fight Over Slaughterhouse Turf1/9/08 — Kosher Meat Company Loses Legal Fight to Union
11/21/07 — Major Union Protests Kosher Slaughterhouse11/21/07 — Kosher Activists Strive To Slaughter With a Conscience8/29/07 — Orthodox Call on Sinners To Give Chickens a Fairer Shake8/9/07 — Food Safety Records Add to Woes of Nation’s Largest Kosher Slaughterhouse7/11/07 — Video Renews Beefs About Slaughterhouse’s Practices5/18/07 — Kosher Slaughterhouse Hit With Lawsuits5/18/07 — Rabbis Move Ahead With New Certification Plan2/9/07 — Orthodox Slam Effort To Monitor Conditions at Kosher Factories
12/22/06 — Rabbis Pledge To Monitor Kosher Plant Conditions12/18/06 — Conservative Rabbis Pledge Groundbreaking System for Monitoring Working Conditions at Kosher Plants9/9/06 — Pot Bust, Meat Scam Hit Kosher Companies8/18/06 — Workers at Kosher Plant Urged To Steer Clear of Union ‘Devils’7/21/06 — Lack of Meat Choices Not Kosher, Say Conservative Shuls in St. Paul7/7/06 — Animal-rights Expert Endorses Kosher Plant6/23/06 — Immigration Fight Splits Locals in Iowa Town5/26/06 — Editorial: Slaughterhouse Rules5/26/06 — In Iowa Meat Plant, Kosher ‘Jungle’ Breeds Fear, Injury, Short Pay
How The Forward Covered Sholom Rubashkin