In a bid to prevent future incidents like last year’s Orion Cold Storage halaal meat scandal, the government is to review the handling of meat labelling and how it relates to religious customs.
An inter-ministerial committee, consisting of the departments of Forestry and Fisheries, Health and Trade and Industry, will tackle the issue after it emerged that labelling of meat products is outside the legal jurisdiction of the Agriculture Department.
The decision comes in the wake of the Orion saga which erupted last year after a video surfaced of a staffer at the Orion meat distribution company relabelling uncertified products and pork as halaal.
The Red Meat Industry Forum of SA, the SA Meat Industry Company and SA National Halaal Authority went to court to interdict Orion Cold Storage, but the matter was not heard because the supplier undertook to not allow the relabelling of products in future.
Briefing Parliament’s oversight committee on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Botlhe Modisane, chief director: animal production and health, said it was important to clear up a misunderstanding that it was not, in fact, illegal to import products like pork hearts from Europe.
The issue, he said, was the “post-import handling” of the products, including their labelling.