Pakistan’s Al-Khidmat Foundation, a conservative social welfare organisation, has so far contributed US$2.9 million to maintaining a Karachi slaughterhouse facility run by Tata Best Foods that complies with international food safety standards.
Tata spokesman Imran Hussain told GlobalMeatNews that exports had risen by between 20% and 30% in the past two months, and added that plans were under way to begin exporting meat to Saudi Arabia.
The company will also target bigger players in the domestic market, including Pakistan’s Marriott and Pearl Continental hotel chains with meat from the slaughterhouse, which currently can slaughter 500 cattle and 3,000 goats per day. It will also target the EBCO Supermarket, the Aga Khan University Hospital, and has already sent a proposal to supply Pakistan food wholesaler Metro Cash & Carry, according to Hussain.
The Tata facility operates under international health and safety standards, with the new facility designed and built according to European Union (EU) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards, Hussain told GlobalMeatNews. This includes the EU machinery directive 2006/42/EC; EU regulation No. 1935/2004 on food contact materials; and US Code of Federal Regulations standards for food safety. Hussain said the facility uses modern technology and that customers have so far been happy with the slaughterhouse’s ethical standards. It was set up in 2008 and has since been improved with new deboning and trimming technology.
"The efficient design has led to higher-value product for the customer. There are carcase chillers for beef and lamb. There is also cold storage for chilled deboned meat and blast freezers… There is also on-site and remote temperature monitoring," Hussain said.
He added that the company had conducted surveys on different breeds, to determine which ones provided the best-quality meat. The facility also has strong employment ethics. Hussain said all slaughtermen were educated and sound-minded adults. Being a halal facility, all employees are Muslim and each animal is slaughtered having been blessed with a ‘Tasimya’ prayer beforehand.
In accordance with other halal standards, all knives used are clean and animals are bled six to eight minutes after slaughtering. In an interview with GlobalMeatNews, general secretary of the Al-Khidmat Foundation Abdul Aziz said he hoped the new facility would inspire more ethical and safe practices in slaughterhouses across the country, and added Al-Khidmat could expand its involvement in the sector in the future. In the meantime: "We will continue to work with Tata. If required more vendors can be engaged," he said.
Meanwhile, the partnership between Tata and the Al-Khidmat Foundation had the potential to increase Pakistan’s exports of hygienic meat to Gulf countries, Europe, and central Asian republics, he said.
Pakistan is also working to strengthen ties with neighbouring India. If a long-awaited normalisation of trade ties happens, the new facility could prove useful, given the availability of good-quality cattle, goats, sheep and animals in the Pakistani Tharparkar desert region, south east of Karachi, and adjacent to India’s Rajasthan state.