By Shannon Teoh
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Malaysia has given halal approval for 14 beef-processing plants in New Zealand as it continues to struggle to meet local demand for the meat.
Radio New Zealand reported today Malaysian religious authorities have certified 14 facilities in New Zealand to process beef and sheep meat after delisting plants from the country in 2005.
The radio station cited New Zealand’s Ministry of Agriculture as saying the approval is the result of years of negotiations between officials and industry representatives in both countries to get new halal export standards in place.
It also quoted Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie as saying that while 41 plants were listed in 2005, “good progress has been made” with another tranche of plants set to be audited this year.
“Mr Ritchie says in 2004 the beef trade was up to 8,000 tonnes, but in the last 12 months that was only 1,600 metric tonnes,” Radio New Zealand wrote.
Malaysia was reported to only produce only a quarter of its local beef consumption in 2010.
It has tried to reduce its dependency on imported beef but projects such as the RM250 million National Feedlot Centre (NFC) has failed to meet its objective of helping Malaysia reach 40 per cent beef self-sufficiency by 2010 and has recently been mired in controversy over misuse of public funds.
Malaysia also halted all live animal imports from Australia over fears of the potentially deadly Hendra virus in July 2011, only to lift the ban on cattle, sheep and goats just weeks ahead of Hari Raya Aidilfitri as concerns of a shortage of beef and mutton and surging food prices grew.