Don't bow to poultry producers, urges body

Cape Town - The Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of SA (AMIE) urged the government not to buckle under pressure from poultry producers who want to raise the cap on brine limits in chicken.

The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries announced amended regulation to reduce the amount of brine contained in chicken.

Brine levels were slashed by half to contain a maximum of 15% by weight in individually quick frozen (IQF) chicken portions.

Poultry producers and consumer bodies were consulted, but a consensus could not be reached, forcing the department to make a final decision.

The department is giving the poultry industry a year to adjust its brine limit.

Brine is injected into chicken and other meat products to retain succulence and flavour.

However, in 2011 a government probe found that producers have been abusing this process by injecting excessive quantities of brine into their produce.

AMIE said the new limit will reduce consumer abuse for commercial gain, adding that it is in favour of zero brining.

"AMIE is, and always has been, totally opposed to the blatant abuse of consumers by excessive brining", said CEO David Wolpert in a statement.

He also pointed out that the total brining volumes exceed 500 million litres per annum - more than double the total annual chicken imports into the country.

"We urge the department to implement its ruling as soon as possible in order to restore some moral, ethical and safety values in the market place".

It said that these values have been replaced by abusive practices.

Reports indicate that profits of Astral, which includes County Fair, Mountain Valley andNational Chicks under its banner, will take the biggest knock because of the new cap on brine levels.

Astral CEO Chris Schutte said in a statement the amended regulations will impact the price of quick frozen products, and that it should be challenged by the poultry industry.

 - Fin24


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