News

Beef exporters face Halal certification hike

James Nason, 24/04/2013

* Correction: An unintended word omission caused an incorrect statement to appear in an earlier version of this article. A sentence that stated 'OIE welfare rules do require abattoirs to practice pre-slaughter stunning' should have read 'OIE welfare rules do not require abattoirs to practice pre-slaughter stunning'. Beef Central apologises for any inconvenience caused by the error.

 

As Australia awaits confirmation of increased import quotas from Indonesia, issues surrounding halal certification and pre-slaughter stunning have underlined the ongoing challenges beef and cattle exporters continue to face in the market.

Qld exporters endure Halal certification hike

A number of beef exporters in Queensland have stopped supplying orders to Indonesia in recent weeks following the delisting by Indonesia's Muslim clerical body (MUI) of the State’s key Halal certifier Australian Halal Food Services (AHFS).

Queensland packers have been told they must now use a Victorian-based Halal certifier, if they wish to continue exporting boxed beef to Indonesia.

The Victorian certifier has reportedly doubled the costs of certification to Indonesia for Queensland exporters.

The development has also raised concerns among processors/exporters as to whether they will have to pay different Halal certifiers for different markets in future, or whether a monopoly will exist for certification of all Halal markets.

Indonesian Halal certification is a state-based system in Australia, where historically there has only been one certifier for Indonesia. The Indonesian MUI introduced a policy two years ago requiring that Australian-based Halal certifiers for Indonesia must operate within one state only.

The delisting of Queensland’s main Halal certifier on April 8 is believed to relate to internal disputes between Muslim certifiers over the state-based arrangements and whether certifiers should be able to expand their business across states. 

Prior to this development, Queensland packers were able to pay a single certifier to handle all of their certification requirements for all Halal markets, including Indonesia.

It is understood that one of the reasons that MUI introduced a state-based rule for Indonesian Halal certifiers two years ago was to ensure that proceeds earned from certification services in each state stayed within each local muslim community. Certifiers are required to return some of the fees they are paid by processors for Halal certification services back to their local community, such as through donations to Mosques or Islamic schools.

One source explained to Beef Central that the Queensland certifier’s accreditation was delisted after it won a contract to supply Halal certification services in Victoria for a processor to cover markets outside of Indonesia. This development led to a dispute among local certification bodies about whether certifiers should operate across state boundaries, and resulted in the decision by MUI in Indonesia to remove the Queensland supplier’s accreditation and to institute a Victorian based certifier to provide certification services in Queensland.

The delisted certifier, which handles a bulk of the Halal certification work for Queensland exporters across all Halal markets, is understood to be trying to have its accreditation with Indonesia reinstated.

One of several Queensland based exporters who supply Indonesia, but asked to not be identified, said some companies have switched certifiers to make sure they can still export to Indonesia, while others had stopped supplying Indonesia because of the costs involved.

Beef Central is aware that there have been discussions between Industry and the Federal Government around options to improve the current Indonesian certification system and to ensure competition remains in the market for these services.

Industry monitors audit of stunning in Indo abattoirs

Meanwhile, Australian livestock export industry leaders are monitoring another Halal-related situation in Indonesia which involves an audit of stunning practices in Indonesian abattoirs by the  MUI council.

Pre-slaughter stunning is deemed as Halal or acceptable practice under Islamic law in Indonesia, but must be performed in a way that ensures animals are not damaged or killed by the stunning bolt and remain alive at the point of slaughter.

Local MUI officials in the province of Banten neighbouring Jakarta have described stunning processes in local abattoirs as “imperfect” and have been meeting to discuss a possible ban on pre-slaughter stunning in the province.

However, that push is occuring at regional level and is not supported by the powerful central MUI council, which some media reports suggested this week.

Rather, MUI national chairman KH Maruf Amin, told The Australian newspaper that the national council had not issued any new fatwa on the use of stunning.

"A provincial ruling cannot contradict the central council's ruling. We will be calling on Banten MUI to explain their position," he said.

While five ESCAS accredited abattoirs are understood to be located in the province considering a ban on pre-slaughter stunning, a department of agriculture spokesperson said Australian exporters had confirmed they have access in their approved supply chains to abattoirs that are not affected.

Under ESCAS rules, abattoirs that handle Australian cattle must comply with OIE standards as a minimum animal welfare requirement.

OIE welfare rules do not require abattoirs to practice pre-slaughter stunning.

However, more than 90pc of ESCAS-approved  abattoirs in Indonesia have adopted the practice, largely because they are finding that stunning is not only better for welfare, but better for their bottom line as well.

After installing pneumatic stunning equipment in his Jakarta abattoir last year, Budiman Lakman told Beef Central that stunning had led to quieter cattle, better quality meat, happier customers, and significant time and cost savings for his business.

“I am very appreciative of the system applied for animal welfare,” he said. “I feel I get the benefit”.

Australian Livestock Export Council chief executive Alison Penfold said it was understood the national MUI council was very supportive of stunning as a Halal practice.

“We’re certainly aware of the audit, and we’re obviously monitoring the situation,” she said.

“There has been a significant increase in stunning across Indonesia, and we want to ensure that it complies with both ESCAS and Halal requirements.

“Industry will continue to work with authorities to provide any additional training, information or support that is necessary.”

Ms Penfold said Australian cattle were still required to be processed in compliance with OIE standards in Indonesia, and said that while those standards did not require stunning, the industry had no desire to see the strong uptake of stunning in Indonesian abattoirs reversed.

“We certainly want to work with the authorities, given the amount and significant number of facilities using stunning, which is now close to 90pc.

“We would not want to see a rollback.

“This doesn’t need to be an either or proposition, we can achieve both (Halal and OIE requirements)”.
 

HAVE YOUR SAY

Your email address will not be published.

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.

Comments

  1. Robert Goodwin, 15/01/2015

    This is nothing more than a illegal extortion tax similar to what the mafia impose . Halal fees must be outlawed . Its nothing more than simple cold blooded ransom.
    If it was really about making food marketed as safe to eat for Muslims it would be free and paid for from the 2.5% tax Muslims pay to there mosques. With this HALAL extortion racquet profits Islam is funding the worlds take over the largest Land and business purchases the world has ever seen. It will end in WAR.

  2. susan aguirre, 15/01/2015

    So from what I am understanding here, Indonesia is very happy to stun animals PRIOR to slitting their throat? They feel that it is still halal meat? So would this mean that Australia can stop the barbaric practice of slitting the animals throat WITHOUT stunning the animal? I certainly hope so.

Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -
FREE!