Meat Supplier Denies Halal Pork Claims

by 5m Editor
14 November 2011, at 8:27am

SOUTH AFRICA - A Muizenberg-based meat supplier which is alleged to have relabelled pork as halal has vehemently denied this and all the other allegations levelled at it in the Western Cape High Court.

Orion Cold Storage’s representatives have claimed in court papers that the source of the allegations attempted to blackmail one of its directors.

The papers by Orion, formerly known as Airport Cold Storage, were filed on Thursday (10 November) in response to an interim interdict application lodged against the company by the SA Halaal Authority Trust (Sanha) and several authorities in the meat industry.

The application followed an order which was obtained this week to allow Sanha, the Red Meat Industry Forum and the SA Meat Industry Company to search Orion’s premises.

IOL News reports that this search was carried out on Wednesday night.

The National Prosecuting Authority has been approached about launching a criminal investigation.

In the interdict application, the applicants alleged that Orion imported pork products from overseas and relabelled them as halal.

The applicants also claimed in papers that Orion had removed the labels of expired broiler turkeys returned from Shoprite Checkers and relabelled them to pass them off as turkeys that had not expired.

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

Responding to the allegations in court papers, Orion MD, Patrick Gaertner, denied having acted unlawfully and said the allegations were based on inadmissible hearsay.

Mr Gaertner said in papers that one of the sources who supplied the applicants with information about Orion’s alleged conduct had attempted to extract 1.2 million rand (ZAR) from him and had threatened to publish “certain videos he claimed to have in his possession”.

He said Orion had not had enough time to deal with the applicants’ papers fully because they were only delivered to him on Wednesday.

Mr Gaertner added that the publicity around the case was unwarranted, unlawful and unfair because he had not been given an opportunity to respond.

The applicants went to court to obtain the interim interdict but the application was postponed for a week after Orion provided an interim undertaking.

In terms of the undertaking, Orion has agreed not to:

  • alter information on prescribed products under section 1 of the Agricultural Standards Products Act.
  • relabel and sell products imported by it as halal unless such products, when imported, were already certified as halal.
  • relabel non-food grade milk powder for animal feed as skimmed milk powder fit for human consumption and halal.

The undertaking stressed that the supplier was not admitting to the allegations.

In court on Thursday, Acting Judge Owen Rogers said the interim interdict was not necessary in light of the undertaking made by Orion.

Acting Judge Rogers said he was taking into consideration the fact that the allegations had cast Orion in a bad light and that the court needed to be wary of making orders against parties which did not have time to respond.

The interdict application will be heard on 17 November.