The New ABC: Abattoirs, Bandwagons and Certification

We received a question today about the abattoirs we use and whether or not they are Halal certified. Presuming that the person was not seeking meat for religious reasons (this was obvious from the questions she asked), I can only assume that she had been reading the social media hype regarding the fees that are charged by certification bodies, and where that money ends up. The next leap, no doubt, was the support of terrorism.

We have had a number of enquires on this topic over the last 12 months, and the issue at the heart of the questioning is no doubt concerning many people. That being the belief that money from Halal certification finds its way back to support or benefit Muslim organisations overseas – for good or bad. But by boycotting Australian businesses, or expecting me to, without a full understanding of the issue is naïve on many fronts.

In this shrinking industry, there are more and more foreign owned processors, and as such the vast majority of domestic and export abattoirs are Halal certified. The reality is they would be crazy not to be, as such a large part of the trade in certain markets, is required to be Halal. To restrict their possible market share in this competitive market would undoubtedly have a negative impact on their business.

As most of the Halal and Kosher meat is processed at the one time with the required practises performed together, the abattoir is then able to continue with ‘normal’ practise for the remainder of their operational time. In the instance of the local, family owned abattoir that we use, this does not affect my stock, or the quality of the product which I receive. I have only ever witnessed a Halal slaughter on the internet, and for my mind it was completed in a crude fashion (far worse than the described standard Halal practise here in Australia, by the way). For our business, with only the occasional inquiry for Halal meat, we see no need to have our meat slaughtered according to Halal practice. And considering we value our pigs as our unique product, accreditation may also be difficult.

As to why we are receiving these enquires about where the money from Halal certification goes, and not how the animal is treated, I have no idea. The suggestion that I should be sending my livestock to another abattoir because some people think I’m indirectly supporting terrorism by using an abattoir that processes Halal meat? Anyone who thinks that can go jump. The accreditation bodies may very well need cleaning up, and more transparency may be required, but so do many other private industry bodies. Dare I mention the trade unions or the mining lobby groups, paid for by the mining companies who are full of ex-Environmental policy advisors. For those keen on a bandwagon, it won’t be long before they’re on the next one. Here are some ideas: ‘Stop buy cheap milk and ruining the dairy industry’, or ‘Stop buying cheap imported sh*t from the supermarket and support your local small businesses’.

I’d love to come and join the Halal bandwagon but I’ve got my hands full here, thanks. Between farmers, livestock, staff, and praying for rain, I’m too busy to barrel all Muslims into terrorism supporters. In fact I’ve got one of those ‘Muslim types’ working in our cold room right now…he’s a polite, family man, respectful and good at his work. I wish I could find more employees like him.

abattoir, certification, halal, Newsletter - May 2015, slaughter

Ben Clinch

Ben Clinch has a strong background in agriculture and has experience in operations and project management. Before starting The Free Range Butcher he worked as jackaroo, camel handler, barman, security guard, handyman, and tiler. These days he manages the day to day running of The Free Range Butcher business, and you can usually find him out the front of the farmers market stall; often telling bad jokes, or offering samples to vegetarians. He’s also the go to guy for sales, corporate enquiries, events, and silly questions.

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