How clucky: chicken shortage is averted

A shortage of kosher chickens in Manchester has worried consumers in the run up to Succot after a leg disease was found among poultry last week.

Around 30 per cent of birds had to be rejected after the disease, which is not harmful to humans, spread through chicken stocks in abattoirs in Manchester and Southport, which serve the Greater Manchester community.

It is understood that some London abattoirs were also affected by the ailment which causes a swelling of tendons in the leg, rendering the bird unkosher. It will cause a significant financial loss for the abattoirs, although no price rises have been passed on to the consumer so far.

Manchester Beth Din's Rabbi Yehuda Brodie said a major shortage had been narrowly averted.

He said: "We are working together with poultry suppliers to ensure there is an adequate supply over the yomim tovim."

Frozen chicken stocks are also available if required. The Manchester Beth Din, together with Manchester's Dayan Osher Westheim, who runs a private kashrut authority, has implemented emergency shechitah sessions to provide the estimated 8,000 chickens needed for the festival rush.

Dayan Westheim said that the incident highlights the stringent financial and health constraints under which the kosher market operates, giving greater reason for the community to fight the new EU labelling threat.

He said: "For kosher poultry, every single bird is slaughtered individually, but in non-kosher killing vets have told me six per cent of birds miss the stunning, and can be plunged into the plucking machine alive. People should support kashrut, if not for kashrut itself, but for animal rights."

    Last updated: 9:54am, September 22 2010