Clearly, what is shown on the video -- like every method of animal slaughter -- is terribly disturbing. I asked a rabbi who is experienced in shechita to view the video and he stated that he agrees with the reported comments, that (unpleasant as it is) what is being seen here are post-death muscular reactions which are not unusual given the instantaneous death rendered by shechita. He also pointed out that what seems to be at fault here is that the carcasses are being released from the penn before the nerve spasms have ceased -- way too early. In addition, he added that this happens with other methods of slaughter as well and that shechita is still more humane.
The NYT report, however, holds mixed views. The American OU rabbis (who on the face of things have some stake in this, though that does not necc. make their views invalid) seem to agree that this is acceptable, if gruesome practice, and that despite appearances, the animals are not feeling anything at this stage. Shimon Cohen of the UK, a spokesman for a wholly Orthodox-sponsored pro-shechita organization, said that such shechita would not be acceptable in Britain:
[A]fter watching the tape with a rabbi and a British shochet [he said] that he "felt queasy," and added,"I don't know what that is, but it's not shechita."Either way, there seems to be cause for serious concern, and some further clarifications are still necessary. If there are any Bloghead readers out there who have experience with Shechita and can watch the video, we'd like to hear from you.
The spokesman, Shimon Cohen, said that in Britain an animal must be restrained for 30 seconds to bleed, and no second cut is allowed. Done correctly, he said, a shochet's cut must produce instantaneous unconsciousness, so Agriprocessors' meat could not be considered kosher.