Fear over halaal US beef coming to SA


Cii News| Ayesha Ismail| 11 November 2016| 10 Safar 1438

Cape Town – South African traders turning to the United States for halaal beef is worrying, especially as the Muslim community is still reeling from a pork scandal from four years ago.

“We are aghast at the prospect of meat from the United States imported into the Republic [of South Africa],” the South African National Halaal Authority (Sanha) told Fin24.

This related to traders showing interest in halaal beef from the US, which are also exported to Middle Eastern countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.
South Africa has already been selling small quantities of US beef livers, said the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), noting that it was uncertain if any halaal beef livers entered the country.

“However, a large percentage of US beef livers are halaal-certified, so it is therefore certainly possible that some of the livers exported to South Africa were also halaal-certified,” said a USMEF representative.

USMEF said halaal certification of US meat is governed by the importing country.

“When a country requires meat to be halaal-certified, it maintains a list of entities/organisations that are certified to approve product for export to that country. Suppliers who wish to export to this country then know that their product must be certified by one of the entities or organisations on the approved list. Otherwise, no export certification can be issued.”

The US industry exports many cuts of haalal-certified beef. This ranges from livers mainly destined primarily for Egypt to high-end steaks entering markets such as the UAE and Oman.

“We really only know the volume of halaal-certified beef being exported to countries that require halaal certification – such as the Middle Eastern markets, Indonesia and Malaysia,” said the USMEF.

“We also export halaal-certified beef to markets such as Canada, the Caribbean, the Philippines, etc., but because halaal certification is not required by these countries, we don’t know what percentage of product being exported to these markets is halaal-certified.”

Sanha spokesperson EBI Lockhat told Fin24 the laws and export rules of the US are designed to serve their interests and their citing of exports to Islamic countries is no guarantee.

He said the body isn’t anti-trade or anti USA. “The thrust of our concern is the credibility and authenticity of the claim of halaal,” Lockhat said.

“Halaal certificates of some obscure body produced at the point of entry into our country is most certainly not a criteria in upholding the highest standards that we strive for.”

Sanha only approves meats emanating from Namibia and Botswana, said Lockhat. “This is on the basis that the facilities operate as halaal in toto and are under our supervision.”

Lockhat said Sanha would consider applications by entrepreneurs who wish to import products from abroad where they would provide a ruling after a case by case evaluation.

According to an investigation by Sanha, Lockhat said there appears to be no plants in the US dedicated to the full time slaughter of of halaal meats for export.

“We draw this distinction as there are plants that undertake ‘a fixed period contract halaal slaughter’ i.e. on certain days only or for a fixed quantity.”

Lockhat pointed out that this raises concerns that the so-called halaal meats could come into contact with the unhalaal meats.

“This contamination factor possibility, coupled with the fact that we do not have stringent monitoring and audit controls without our authorised Muslim on site monitors and impromptu audits leaves us with grave misgivings.”

Lockhat went on to explain an incident in 2011 over falsely labelled meat products by Orion Cold Storage.

“We still reel from the shock of four years ago when a television expose resulted in a court case where the Orion meat company, whilst assuring consumers of halaal and producing a foreign certificate, endorsed by a Cape-based authority, were in beach of Islamic dietary rules.”

He stated that the company was found to have:

– Imported Irish and Belgian pork products and re-labelling them as halaal sheep/veal products.
– Imported Australian Kangaroo meat and re-labelling it as halaal beef trimmings.
– Imported Canadian dairy powder for animal feed and re-labelling it as halaal skim milk powder.
– Imported non-halaal Spanish poultry products and re-labelling them as halaal.

“Therefore, we strenuously object to the importation of meats without the required conditions of halaal being met.”

The Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust (MJCHT) told Fin24 that the only foreign country that is halaal certified by the body for meat products is Namibia.

“Halaal certified meat/poultry Abattoirs exporting meat products into South Africa are endorsed by the MJCHT only if the products are certified by a bone-fide native halaal certifying body of the respective country that is recognised by the MJCHT,” explained MJCHT director Shaykh Achmat Sedick.

He said this foreign halaal certifying body (FHCB) must have similar halaal certification functions as that of the MJCHT and it takes full responsibility for the halaal assurance of the entire process of the ?alaal chain from the farm to the distribution of the meat/chicken end products.

Sedick said the FHCB’s halaal certificate must accompany all the relevant shipping documentation for the export of the halaal product.

“The FHCB ensures the validity of the entire halaal chain process up to the point of loading the halaal product into the container and sealing it for export to the foreign destination. Before arrival of the FHCB exported halaal certified products, the South African MJCHT registered halaal importer forwards all the paperwork to the MJCHT for scrutiny,” he explained.

“A container clearance check is conducted by the MJCHT when the shipment arrives in South Africa. Once all documentation and container checks comply with the MJCHT import clearance standards, the MJCHT registered halaal importer is issued with an endorsement certificate of the imported products.”

This process ensures that the entire halaal chain of the end-halaal products from country of origin to the destination country such as South Africa is observed and maintained, said Sedick.
Source – fin24