US companies plead guilty to mislabelling halal beef exports to Malaysia, Indonesia

Two US companies have pleaded guilty to selling at least US$4.9 million worth of beef to Malaysia and other countries that were labelled halal despite flouting Islamic practices. ― File pic
Two US companies have pleaded guilty to selling at least US$4.9 million worth of beef to Malaysia and other countries that were labelled halal despite flouting Islamic practices. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 ― Two companies charged in a US court for conspiring to export misbranded beef products to Malaysia, Indonesia and other markets have pleaded guilty to several offences related to the case, said an Associated Press report.

In a plea agreement, Midamar Corp and Islamic Services of America (ISA) pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make false statements on export certificates, sell misbranded meat and commit wire fraud, among other offences.

With the plea bargain, each company will be required to forfeit US$600,000 (RM2.62 million) in proceeds, on top of a possible probation term and an additional fine at sentencing.

The two companies were hauled up before the federal court last December for selling at least US$4.9 million worth of beef to Malaysia and other countries that were labelled halal despite flouting Islamic practices.

The Iowa-based Midamar Corp was charged with carrying out this practice for years, allegedly putting on false labels and supplying what it fraudulently claimed to be beef slaughtered according to halal standards to Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and other countries, according to the report.

Prosecutors argued, however, that Midamar’s main beef supplier was a Minnesota plant that was not certified to export to Malaysia and Indonesia, while there were often no Muslim slaughtermen during the slaughter process, which used the bolt stunning method.

Midamar’s employees would then remove the labels on the Minnesota plant’s beef using nail polish remover, before putting on false labels saying the meat originated from another plant that has certificates to export to Malaysia and Indonesia, the prosecutors said.

Prosecutors added that Midamar would then place the false information about the beef’s origins in export forms and certificaties handed over to the US Department of Agriculture for approval.

According to AP, Midamar operates as a food distributor while ISA certified food products from Midamar and other companies as halal.

ISA is one of few organisations in the US that are approved to certify beef for export to Malaysia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Both Midamar and ISA were founded and run by the Aossey family in Cedar Rapids.

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