Local authority refutes US halaal chicken claims | Fin24
 
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Local authority refutes US halaal chicken claims

Oct 03 2016 16:23
Adiel Ismail

Delaware - The South African National Halaal Authority (Sanha) on Monday distanced itself from a US chicken producer, who claimed over the weekend that all its exported chicken to SA is halaal.

Sanha said in a strongly worded statement that it does not grant halaal certification to any poultry outside South Africa’s borders as “we are unable to exercise stringent monitoring and audit control through having our own dedicated onsite auditors based at the plants, as we do locally”.

The reaction follows after one of the top US poultry producers claimed to Fin24 over the weekend that its chicken portions destined for South Africa are halaal.

Although not all the chicken from Mountaire Farms is labelled halaal, two of its three facilities - the Delaware and Maryland plants - are halaal certified. Its other plant is in North Carolina.

Mountaire Farms said it has exported over 1 000 tonnes of drumsticks, leg quarters, gizzards and hearts to South Africa after an agreement was reached late last year allowing the US to export 65 000 tonnes of duty-free chicken into the country.

This agreement ensured that South Africa stayed in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), a US trade act which enhances market access to the US for qualifying sub-Saharan African countries.

In the Delaware kill room chickens are placed upside down on a conveyor belt one after the other. They are quickly stunned to calm the birds. A man dressed in white, a representative of the Halaal Food Council of the USA (HFC), offers the so-called Islamic blessing, before the chickens' throats are slit when passing through a sharp blade.  

The HFC offers religious consultation to United States Department of Agriculture and is the leading halaal-food certification organisation in North America.

Dr Ashraf Ahmed, the past imam of Salisbury, Maryland, told Fin24 that Mountaire complied with Islamic requirements for chicken to be considered halaal and has a full line of halaal products called Noor Al-Jabal. 

Halaal claims are false

Sanha public relations officer EBI Lockhat told Fin24 on Monday that any claims that the local authority recognises machine-slaughtered poultry from the Mountaire plants as halaal are false.

“Sanha does not accept machine-slaughtered poultry as halaal whatsoever, be it from local or international sources.

“We can state categorically that we do not have any dealings, affiliations or recognition agreements with the Mountaire plants and the Halaal Food Council of the USA.”

Lockhat said the Mountaire report has already caused consternation in the community who are reliant on Sanha’s guidance of halaal certification and approval. 

Mountaire director of export sales Oleg Kovalev told Fin24 15% of the chicken producer’s halaal labelled chicken stays in the country, while 100% of what is exported is halaal.

“When we send chicken to South Africa we provide a piece of paper which is an export halaal certificate from the HFC,” he added. The HFC is recognised by the World Halaal Food Council, including Islamic food organisations in Indonesia and Singapore.

It is significant to note that the Malaysian Government Department of Islamic Affairs (JAKIM), who maintain the highest halaal standards in the world, do not accept machine slaughter. Sanha is one of only two certifiers in southern Africa who have met JAKIM’s slaughter standards.

* Fin24 is attending the US farm-to-fork programme as a guest of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council.

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

united states  |  halaal  |  chicken  |  poultry
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