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Authorities: Managers Aware of Pork Sold as Halaal

by 5m Editor
18 November 2011, at 8:53am

SOUTH AFRICA - Meat industry authorities and the SA National Halaal Authority (Sanha) are adamant that the management of meat supplier Orion Cold Storage was fully aware that pork products were labelled and sold as halaal, and that it profited from the alleged conduct.

According to IOL News, this was said in their replying papers in the interim interdict application in the Western Cape High Court to stop the alleged conduct by Orion.

It was lodged after a search and seizure operation at Orion’s Muizenberg premises last week.

Sanha, the Red Meat Industry Forum and SA Meat Industry Company have also denied claims by Orion that the relabelling debacle was a set-up, aimed at framing Orion and casting it in a bad light.

They say they intend to prove that Orion’s management was part of the alleged fraudulent activity.

According to court papers, the applicants alleged that Orion imported pork products from overseas and relabelled them as halaal.

They also claimed that Orion had removed the labels of expired broiler turkeys returned and passed them off as not expired.

In addition, it was alleged that non-food-grade milk powder for animal feed was relabelled as skim milk powder fit for human consumption.

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and MJC Halaal Trust were supporting the application, a trustee of the halaal body, Achmat Sedick, confirmed in an affidavit.

The National Consumer Forum has also joined the proceedings.

Orion denied the allegations in opposing papers.

Orion managing director Patrick Gaertner said in an affidavit that three of the main sources behind the allegations could not be trusted.

One was an unrehabilitated insolvent trying to extort money from the company.

The other was his brother-in-law and a third – who provided the applicants with an affidavit – worked for a competitor.

Orion, formerly known as Airport Cold Storage, investigated the allegations that their products were being relabelled as halaal and reported it to the police.

"What was discovered shocked me deeply," Mr Gaertner said in his affidavit.

The applicants replied to the allegations on Wednesday. In an affidavit, Sanha’s theological director, Mohamed Saeed Navlakhi, said the applicants found no comfort in Gaertner’s "feigned shock and offence."

He described as "irrelevant" allegations that one of the informants had attempted to extort money from Orion.

"The applicants are in no way influenced or swayed by any disputes that there may be between (Orion) and Patrick Gaertner on the one hand, and (the informants) on the other hand."

Mr Navlakhi said the applicants had independently verified the information received from one of the other informants.

According to Mr Navlakhi, if Orion was serious about not being at fault, it would have contacted affected customers.

"However, rather than address the problem, (Orion) is seeking to shift all the blame to (the informants) and take no further action in recalling the products or contacting its customers to inform them of the fraud committed upon them."

Mr Navlakhi said the applicants intended to show that Orion’s management was not only aware of the relabelling of products, but had profited from such conduct. He said management also knew to whom the products were sold.

Mr Navlakhi also took issue with Orion’s claims that it imported products that had been certified halaal.

According to him, the halaal certification of imported products must be verified by a local authority.

The application was set to be heard on Friday.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.