DON'T WORRY ABOUT STATUS OF IMPORTED MEAT INTO SABAH, CONSUMERS TOLD
29 DEC 2020
KOTA KINABALU: The Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry has been monitoring the current situation and issues about the status of imported meat into Malaysia.
Recently, it had been widely reported that a cartel has imported meat from non-halal-certified slaughterhouses in countries such as China, Brazil and Argentina and repackaged before being sold as halal meat in Malaysia.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said he is aware the people of Sabah are also worried about whether such illegal activity is also taking place in Sabah, especially because the cartel has reportedly been running for more than 40 years.
“The situation in Sabah is a little different because Sabah has the authority to regulate the import and export of animals and animal products under the Animal Enactment 2015.
“Sabah has also been given Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)-free status since May 2004. This status means Sabah will place tougher requirements on imports of animal and animal products in order to maintain the FMD-free status as recommended by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE),” he said in a statement today.
Jeffrey, who is also the Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, said Sabah is still dependent on meat imports, as the state currently produces just 10% of the state’s meat demand.
However, he assured the import of meat is strictly regulated to ensure Sabah’s FMD-free status is preserved.
“Sabah imports only meat from OIE-certified FMD-free countries or at least, the animal must source from countries with OIE-certified FMD-free areas.
“Currently, we only import meat from Australia and New Zealand and a special facility in Aurangabad, India that produces frozen buffalo meat (Allana) to meet high-quality meat requirements,” he said.
He added that Sabah only import meat from premises registered under the list of overseas abattoirs approved by a central agency which included the Malaysian Veterinary Services Department (DVS), Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (JAKIM), and the Health Ministry.
This list is publicly available on the DVS Malaysia website. However, not all approved premises are allowed to import meat into Sabah as they are still subjected to the FMD-free status.
Sabah DVS Risk Analysis Committee shall be enabled as appropriate to advise the Import/Export Committee in technical issues related to import decisions.
Sabah DVS practises open AP and import licences can be applied via its website at www.davetsa.sabah.gov.my.
“Any organisation interested in importing meat may apply, but it must have a cold storage facility approved by Sabah DVS,” he said.
Currently, there are 16 companies with cold rooms approved by the Sabah DVS. Sabah imports beef from Australia and New Zealand, buffalo meat from India and chicken wings and other chicken parts from the Netherlands and Denmark.
However, imports of chicken wings and chicken parts are currently temporarily suspended due to the high occurrence of avian influenza in both the Netherlands and Denmark.
The current procedure requires the customs department to refer to the Sabah DVS when importing products into Sabah. Before the imported meat is cleared for release, the Sabah DVS will conduct document verification. Otherwise, they will detain the imports for investigation.
Physical examination will be done by the Sabah DVS enforcement team at the companies’ cold room premises.
“Sabah only allows direct shipment from countries where the meat originated to Sabah ports or airports. If transhipments or in-transit are necessary, strict requirements shall be imposed on the consignment, such as seals from the original countries must not be tampered with in any way whatsoever.
“As such, the ministry through the Sabah DVS, is confident the state is free from such scandal as the meat cartel and we are confident of the wholesomeness of the meat in Sabah because we do not allow raw meat to be brought into Sabah from Peninsular Malaysia.
“That being said, if the public has any information about the smuggling of meat in Sabah, please do not hesitate to report to the Sabah DVS.
“The government will not hesitate to immediately launch an investigation and enforce the law and bring those who are responsible to justice,” he said.