1 Feb 2011

Misinformation 'puts NZ halal market at risk'

7:02 am on 1 February 2011

The head of one of New Zealand's halal certification bodies is warning that the country risks missing out on marketing opportunities unless it puts more effort into explaining its certification system.

Dr Mohamed Abdel-Al, president of New Zealand Islamic Meat Management and of Islamic Processed Foods, has raised his concerns after attending the Global Halal Congress in Pakistan.

He says New Zealand is recognised in the Muslim world as a leader in halal meat production, which includes stunning animals before slaughter in export meat plants.

However Dr Abdel-Al says there's still widespread misunderstanding about New Zealand's procedures.

He gives the example that some lawyers in Britain have said electric stunning in itself injures or kills the animal - thus contravening halal procedure - despite it being on record that this is not the case.

Dr Abdel-Al says he has spent years working in overseas markets to correct that view, but there needs to be a more co-ordinated effort by other industry representatives and trade officials, who need to be trained how to answer these questions.

He says such misinformation could also upset the halal trade in dairy products and by-products from meat processing.