Meatworks pledges ‘Christian’ kill
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A Southland meatworks is buying lambs from Christian farmers, promising that they will not be killed in accordance with Islamic rules.
Ricky Larsen, manager of Invercargill’s Blue Sky Meats, said the company was the only meatworks in New Zealand deliberately rejecting halal processing.
About a quarter of its daily 4400 lambs came from farmers not wanting a halal kill, he said. The farmers believed their stock were as Christian as they were.
“There is a significant proportion of our supply base that hold that principle and choose to supply us because we don’t process to the Muslim halal requirements,” Mr Larsen said.
In a halal slaughtering process, the sheep is stunned with an electric shock before a ritual practitioner cuts the animal’s throat. Most New Zealand meatworks slaughter in this way because it is required by Middle Eastern markets.
Mr Larsen’s non-halal process simply electrocutes the sheep. He said the works had no trouble attracting enough custom and, although it could sell to the Middle East, it had ready markets elsewhere.
Blue Sky’s stand is revealed in the book Cheap Meat: Flap Food Nations in the Pacific Islands, which follows the trail of “lamb flaps”, the fatty offcuts that were, until recently, dumped on South Pacific markets.
The trade is controversial because of the high fat content, and in 1999 Fiji banned the import of lamb flaps.
But now the offcuts were earning high prices in China, which was taking advantage of low-cost labour to process the flaps for the hot-pot restaurant trade, Mr Larsen said.
“Our reputation … means that the Kiwi product in the … trade has quite a premium over local Mongolian product.”