Cape Town - High brining levels as practised in South Africa are nothing more than commercial exploitation of consumers, according to the Association of Meat Importers and Exporters of SA (Amie).
The Association said it is "thrilled" following a court judgment which rejected the South African Poultry Association’s (Sapa’s) application to set aside poultry brining caps.
New regulations to be implemented from October 22 limits the total brine injected for whole carcasses to a maximum of 10%, up from the previously prescribed 8%. The total brine allowed for individual portions of fresh and frozen poultry is capped at 15%. No limit was previously prescribed.
The North Gauteng High Court on Wednesday refused Sapa’s request to review the new regulations and suspend the 15% cap on brining altogether.
"Amie has always maintained that inordinately high brining levels as practised in South Africa are nothing more than commercial exploitation of the consumer, and we believe that the high court judgement vindicates our view," CEO David Wolpert said in a statement.
"This ruling is also to be welcomed because it is favourable to small and previously disadvantaged producers who have been unable to compete with some of the larger players due to their unacceptable brining practices."
Kevin Lovell, chief executive officer of Sapa, warned that the industry would suffer a major contraction, threatening food security and jobs, with consumers possibly also facing high prices.
However, Amie believes that lower levels of brine should not lead to consumers forking out more to eat chicken.
"We also believe that the claim that such a ruling would necessitate higher prices at the till is a false one, in that all that is required is smaller packs of individually quick frozen (iqf) chicken with the same amount of poultry meat as is currently used, but with 15% brine as opposed to current levels of 30% and more," explained Wolpert.
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