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US probe targets halal food supplier in Iowa

Associated Press Modified: November 26, 2012 at 2:31 pm •  Published: November 26, 2012

Reade ruled that Midamar failed to show that the money seizure amounted to shutting down the business. Midamar failed to prove it could not obtain funding from other sources, such as by liquidating assets or taking out personal loans from its executives, she said. The agents' seizure of documents and files also did not prevent the business from operating, Reade ruled, noting investigators returned seized computers within a week.

Rasheed Ahmed, president of the Muslim Consumer Group for Food Products, a watchdog group in Huntley, Ill., said cheating is common in the marketing of halal meat, which is supposed to be killed in ritual slaughter. Some companies label routinely processed "supermarket meat" as halal, he said.

Ahmed said he was not aware of the investigation or Midamar's practices but that he would be interested in the case's outcome. "A lot of consumers buy from them," he said.

Midamar says the matter does not involve food safety. Still, its lawyers made public a letter from USDA that noted the agency stopped voluntary inspections at the firm in 2010, after seizing what it called misbranded meat products, before resuming them last year. Such inspections are done at Midamar's request to ensure their products meet requirements for export.

Investigators seized thousands of pounds of beef products that came from an establishment not approved for export to a foreign country and found falsified export documents for shipments to Indonesia and Malaysia, among other problems, according to the letter.

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service resumed inspections after approving Midamar's "corrective and preventive measures," the letter says.