Egypt has delisted all U.S. halal beef certifiers, with the exception of a single new organization, according to a new report from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
Egypt is the second-largest market for U.S. beef exports behind Mexico.
“This sudden change in policy could disrupt markets and cause confusion among industry and regulators,” said the USDA in its report.
Industry contacts informed FAS’ office in Cairo that the price for halal certification would increase under the updated system. Previously, halal certifiers in the United States charged $10-$20 per metric ton for certification. The policy change will result in a price increase to $220 per metric ton.
In March, officials from Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture conducted food safety and halal audits of U.S. beef establishments. Two teams visited seven slaughter facilities and met with eight halal certifiers.
FAS Cairo said it received correspondence from the Egyptian Veterinary Service on April 24 indicating that only one of the eight U.S. halal certifiers was approved to certify shipments to Egypt. The remaining seven were suspended or rejected without explanation, according to the report.
The single, halal certifying company is called IS EG Halal Certified, based in Fort Lee, N.J., and was incorporated in late 2017.
“FAS Cairo is not aware that the company has prior experience in halal certification,” the agency said. “The firm is not known to have a preexisting relationship with the U.S. beef industry or Islamic organizations in the United States.”
Prior to the announcement, four firms had provided halal certification services for U.S. beef products to Egypt for many years.
The USDA said it has not yet received a final report outlining the audit findings and the embassy is not aware of criteria used by the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture to approve or deny halal certifiers.
FAS Cairo said the correspondence from the Egyptian Veterinary Service did not include an implementation date; “however, industry contacts believe the changes became effective May 1.”