Halaal authorities and the national meat industry were set to approach the Western Cape High Court on Thursday for an interdict against a well-known meat supplier which they claim has been engaging in fraud, including re-labelling pork products as halaal.
Orion Cold Storage is also accused of:
• Importing water buffalo meat from India and selling it as AB/B grade beef.
• Importing pig hearts in cardboard containers from Belgium and Ireland and re-labelling and selling them as sheep or beef/veal hearts. In some instances the meat was allegedly marked as halaal.
• Importing poultry from Spain, via Britain, and re-labelling the goods as halaal.
• Importing kangaroo meat from Australia and re-labelling it as “chuck and blade”, a beef cut.
• Removing the labels of expired broiler turkeys returned from Shoprite Checkers and re-labelling them to pass them off as turkeys that had not expired.
• Importing non-food-grade milk powder for animal feed and re-labelling it as skim milk powder.
Georg Southey of the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) and the SA Meat Industry Company (Samic) said an informant had told him Orion sold animal feed dairy ingredients to CJP Chemicals – which supplies Tiger Brands and Johnson and Johnson. Animal feed ingredients were cheap to import, but the product was not halaal and unfit for human consumption, he said.
In court papers the applicants say the halaal labels were forgeries designed by Patrick Gaertner, one of the directors of Orion Cold Storage.
Tests on a product labelled as a cow’s heart confirmed it was a pig’s heart, they said.
The National Prosecuting Authority has been approached about launching a criminal investigation.
RMIF, Samic and the SA National Halaal Authority Trust went to court this week for an order allowing it to search Orion’s Muizenberg premises.
The order was granted on Tuesday and executed on Wednesday, the applicants’ attorney, Amish Kika, confirmed. It was still being carried out late last night.
The applicants were to apply for an interim interdict on Thursday to halt Orion’s operations.
According to court papers, Orion supplies wholesalers, retailers and the catering industry throughout southern and central Africa.
The directors are Rory Klemp and Erich and Patrick Gaertner.
In an affidavit filed at the high court, Southey said the informant had told them that Orion had been engaging in conduct that amounted to fraud and which seriously contravened the Agricultural Product Standards Act.
Southey said the evidence was the “tip of the iceberg”.
The applicants had investigated the matter after a Samic employee alleged that he had discovered in June that Orion had imported water buffalo meat from India and sold it to Frey’s Food Brands as AB/B grade beef.
The applicants had been in constant contact with an informant, Tobias Lombard, since October 24.
Lombard, a sales manager at Alliance Foods CC and a former sales agent for Orion, had extensive knowledge of Orion’s operations, the applicants said.
He had provided cellphone videos, taken from February to August, which allegedly showed Orion employees using heat guns to remove the original labels from goods.
Recordings had been made of the original labels.
In one recording, Lombard could be heard asking an employee what she was doing as she applied halaal stickers to brown containers. She responded: “Ons bless hom gou-gou” (We are blessing it quickly).
The original labels said they were frozen chicken portions from Spain which were not marked as halaal.
Another recording shows employees using acetone to remove expiry dates from frozen turkeys imported from Brazil. Southey had later met Lombard and spoke to him by phone to obtain more details.