Federal prosecutors say beef sold as halal to Muslims as far away as Malaysia actually came from a meatpacking plant in Minnesota that didn’t follow the strict practices required by Islamic law. In a nearly 100-count indictment, the prosecutors allege the heads of Iowa-based Midamar Corporation, Jalel and Yahya Aossey as well as their father William, defrauded customers and the USDA by running an operation in which workers stripped labels from the Minnesota plant with acetone or nail-polish remover and applied new labels from a halal-certified plant in Nebraska.
Midamar allegedly told buyers cattle were being handled by trained Muslim slaughtermen and not, specifically, undergoing a practice called captive bolt stunning, but prosecutors say the Minnesota plant used the bolt method, wasn’t certified to export to Indonesia or Malaysia, and didn’t have anybody recite the necessary “Tasmia” prayer during slaughter.
As it happens, the brothers also operate Islamic Services of America, one of only a handful approved to certify beef for import to Malaysia, Indonesia, and countries in the Middle East; it’s been indicted as well. Midamar, which has been around for 40 years, remains in business, and denies the allegations. An attorney for the company says they’ll fight the charges because, in his words, “the government has no right to regulate what is a religious matter.”