New Zealand is one of the world’s largest exporters of meat and a major exporter of halal meet as well. In fact, New Zealand is the largest exporter of halal sheep in the world. A good percentage of this meat is exported to America and sold in restaurants, supermarkets, and distributors all over the country. Therefore, in order to ensure the integrity and verify the halal status of meat sold with the ‘halal’ label in America at a national level, one has to go back to the source of the meat. This means that it is essential for halal organizations in America to have strong links with New Zealand and obtain first-hand information on the halal process in New Zealand.
To fulfill this important objective of verifying the halal process in New Zealand, three members from the Halal Advocates of America including Mufti Abdullah Nana, Maulana Meraj Desai, and Wasif Khan traveled to New Zealand on May 4, 2010 and spent over two weeks in the country. This group traveled thousands of miles in both the North and South Islands to visit 25 halal slaughterhouses for beef and lamb. The reason for focusing on these two types of meat is that New Zealand does not currently export poultry or other types of meat to America. The Halal Advocates also met with the two major Halal Certifying organizations in New Zealand, i.e. New Zealand Islamic Meat Management (NZIMM) and the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) in order to learn about the oversight of the halal slaughter process. This paper will attempt to summarize the findings of the Halal Advocates during their trip to New Zealand.
The requirement for halal certification in New Zealand is that a meat plant must have only exclusive halal production. Halal meat plants hire a team of Muslim slaughtermen to slaughter every single animal processed at the plant. This exclusive halal slaughter arrangement means that there are no issues of cross contamination, incorrect labeling, or shared equipment problems normally found at facilities doing both halal and non-halal. It is definitely easier to monitor such a halal slaughter process and there are also numerous advantages in this system.
There are hundreds of Muslim slaughterers that work at New Zealand halal slaughterhouses. These slaughterers normally live close to the facility and are provided with facilities to rest and offer their prayers. The slaughterers are hired by the Halal certifiers and attend training sessions conducted by the halal organization. The Halal Advocates spoke to the Muslim slaughterers at every facility they visited and offered them words of encouragement as well as recommendations. Along with this, both major New Zealand halal organizations have halal inspectors who regularly visit each of the halal meat facilities to monitor the process. The Halal Advocates also spent time with these inspectors and discussed the halal supervision process in detail.
All the halal beef and lamb in New Zealand certified by these two halal organizations is slaughtered by a Muslim manually by hand. Mechanical slaughter is not normally used for lamb and beef. All the halal requirements for slaughter are fulfilled during this process. The Muslim recites the name of Allah during the slaughter and completely severs the required vessels of the throat. The Halal Advocates personally spoke to each slaughterer and reminded him of the importance of reciting the name of Allah verbally on each animal and the great benefits in doing so.
Animals which are not properly stunned, or do not bleed properly, etc. are still slaughtered by the Muslim according to Islamic law and thereafter removed from the line immediately after being labeled as ‘non-halal.’ These ‘non-halal’ carcasses are in fact slaughtered by a Muslim according to Islamic law, but for precaution are stored separately and processed separately.
All the halal lamb and beef slaughtered in New Zealand is currently stunned with a head-only electrical stun. The act of stunning is disliked and should be avoided. However, stunned meat will be halal if slaughtered in accordance to Islamic law with the condition that the animal was alive during the time of slaughter and there were signs of life. For more information on the Islamic viewpoint on stunning, visit the ‘Our Issues’ section and read about Stunning
The Halal Advocates have done extensive research on the current method of electrical stunning for lamb and beef in New Zealand. The New Zealand Halal organizations are authorized to conduct recovery tests for lamb and cattle to determine if they can recover within a few minutes of the electrical stunning, and the Halal Advocates witnessed such tests on numerous occasions. The Halal organizations also regularly monitor the stunning apparatus and voltage to ensure that it is within recommended guidelines. Likewise, the Halal Advocates spoke with veterinarians as well as industry experts on this issue.
There is substantial scientific evidence to confirm that cattle and lamb do not die from the electrical stunning and can completely recover after the stun. Slaughterers are trained to look for signs of life at the time of slaughter and the color of blood, flow of blood, and movement after the slaughter. They are authorized to immediately remove any animals from production if they have any suspicion that the animal was weak or not alive at the time of slaughter. The Halal Advocates spoke to Muslim veterinarians including Dr. Mustafa Farouk and Mamdouh Elzanaty on this topic and also were able to gain access to numerous articles and studies conducted by industry experts on the effects of electrical stunning. This includes the publication, Technical papers regarding Electro-immobilization by Meat Industry Association. For the sake of brevity, the Halal Advocates have done their best to summarize the discussion on electrical stunning in New Zealand and have not included the scientific data and studies.
In conclusion, the Halal Advocates of America have observed the both the halal slaughter process in New Zealand and the supervision process by the two major halal organizations. As a independent third party, the Halal Advocates have thoroughly examined the issues related to the halal slaughter and whether this process meets the halal requirements or not. NZIMM and FIANZ showed full cooperation and were more than willing to implement any recommendations or suggestions from the Halal advocates. They have concluded that the halal lamb and beef certified by NZIMM and FIANZ does meet the halal requirements for Muslims in America and all over the world. A list of halal meat plants certified by NZIMM and FIANZ are listed below. One should look for the establishment number of the plant which will be listed on each individual box and seal packaged meat portion along with the symbol ‘ME.’ For any further questions or concerns, feel free to contact the Halal Advocates of America at firstname.lastname@example.org
Halal Advocates of America
March 6, 2011
HALAL PLANTS UNDER FIANZ SUPERVISION
PLANTS LOCATED IN LOWER NORTH ISLAND
|1||ME9||Hawera||Richmond||Bovine, Bobby Calves|
PLANTS LOCATED IN UPPER NORTH ISLAND
|3||ME56||Te Puke||Affco||Ovine/Bobby Calves|
|5||ME118||Te Kuiti||Crusader Meats||Ovine|
PLANTS LOCATED IN SOUTH ISLAND
HALAL MEAT PLANTS APPROVED BY NZIMM
Auckland Meat Processors Limited ME103 (Offals Only) 131 Portage Road, Otahuhu, Auckland
Bernard Mathews NZ Ltd – ME128 Ovine Kawa Kawa Road, Feilding
Bernard Mathews NZ Ltd – ME130 Ovine 113 Dumston Road, Gisborne
Canterbury Meat Packers (CMP) – ME78 Bovine/Ovine Seafield Road, Ashburton
Canterbury Meat Packers (CMP) – ME66 Bovine Arnold Valley Road, Kokiri, Greymouth
Canterbury Meat Packers (CMP) – ME70 Bovine Alabama Road, Blenheim
Frasertown Meat Co Ltd ME83 Ovine Frasertown Road, State Highway 38, Wairoa
Greenlea Premier Meats Ltd – ME124 Bovine Kehakatia Drive, Hamilton
Greenlea Premier Meats Ltd – ME82 Bovine Studholme Street, Morrinsville
Progressive Meats Ltd – ME87 Ovine 118 Kelfield Place, Hastings
Riverlands Eltham Ltd – ME43 Bovine London Street, Eltham
Riverlands Manawatu Ltd – ME119 Bovine Ferry Road, Bulls
Universal Beef Packers Ltd (UBP) ME127 Bovine Te Kuiti
Wallace Corporation Ltd – ME100 Bovine Wood Road, Waitoa