March 22, 2001
Kosher Meat Less Prone to Foot-and-Mouth Disease
As far as foot-and-mouth disease is concerned, it's good to be Jewish.
Since the outbreak of the disease last month, Jews who keep kosher have faced fewer serious meat shortages than the rest of the British community.
The economics of kosher slaughter have worked in Jews' favor.
Most kosher slaughterhouses are small, so it makes financial sense for them to keep running even when only small numbers of animals are available for slaughter, said Michael Kester, the executive director of the London Board of Shechita.
And because most kosher slaughterhouses are family-run operations located near the farms that supply them, they were less affected by restrictions on the movement of animals.
"For a change, we're ahead of the game," Kester said.
Foot-and-mouth is essentially harmless to humans, but it can be fatal to cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, sheep, pigs and goats.
Farming experts say the fact that animals travel long distances from farm to slaughterhouse is partially responsible for the rapid spread of the disease in Britain.
Kester also said that there has been a notable increase in poultry sales since the outbreak of the disease, as people switch from beef to chicken. Chickens cannot catch the disease.