The halal industry in Central Asia, a predominantly Muslim-populated former part of the Soviet Union, is under scrutiny after the Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselhoznadzor claims to have found pork DNA in a batch of halal sausages imported from Kyrgyzstan.
Abdul-Khamid Shamshidin Uulu, director of the National halal industry development centre, that issues halal certification in Kyrgyzstan, claimed that pork DNA supplies by the Kyrgyz company Toyboss could make their way into halal products. This can happen either in case of contact, for example, if pork was stored on an adjacent shelf, or after insufficient treatment of meat processing equipment.
“There were cases when dishes, kitchen utensils or equipment were first used for a non-halal product, and then, after insufficient treatment, they were used for a halal product. In this case, a prohibited substance can get into the halal product,” Shamshidin Uulu explained.
Someone could have counterfeited Toyboss products, applied logos, stamps, and exported them
The pig industry has not been doing exceptionally well in Central Asia. In most countries, pork consumption is seen as haram or prohibited by Muslim traditions. However, pig breeding still exists in the region, especially in Kazakhstan. This country has the highest share of the non-Muslim population among all countries. In recent years, it even planned to expand pork production and export.
Bakyt Degenbaev, chairman of the Kyrgyz Association of domestic producers, told the local news outlet Kaktus that the meat market of the CIS region is a bit “wild” and that fraud could not be ruled out in this situation.
“Someone could have counterfeited Toyboss products, applied logos, stamps, and exported them. The company should also conduct its own investigation, request the products that ended up in Russia, and check everything,” Degenbaev said.
On the other hand, Degenbaev claimed that the Russian side could not be considered entirely trustworthy either, especially since this is not the first time Rosselhoznadzor has complained about the quality of Kyrgyz food.
“I think, in the light of what is happening now in Russia, in what a deplorable state the whole society of Russia is and how deeply corruption has penetrated into all state structures, I do not exclude that the inspection body can be corrupt. Checking products is a rather costly process. These require expensive reagents and chemicals, and taking into account the fact that practically nothing of high quality comes to Russia from abroad, the quality of the testing of the Russian laboratory can also be called into question,” Degenbaev told Kaktus.