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Industry, minister to thrash out poultry and brine

| Legislation

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana has moved to honour a commitment made to the poultry industry to hold a technical meeting to resolve brining issues.

The meeting will allow the industry to present its views on the addition of brine to chicken cuts.

Mr Zokwana’s office on Monday confirmed the meeting would take place early next month following discussions last Friday between the minister and the South African Poultry Association, at which they thrashed out amendments to poultry meat regulations regarding how much brine would be allowed in chicken before sale.

He said his office had received a request from the association to meet to clarify certain points about the regulation amendment.

"The minister instructed the technical teams of the department and the association to, within the next two weeks, meet and discuss issues and concerns raised by the association. Subsequent to the meeting between the department and the association, the poultry meat regulation amendment will be published. The minister is intent on finalising the regulations as a matter of urgency."

Association CEO Kevin Lovell said on Monday the meeting would be a chance to "see where common ground can be found". The current regulations were unenforceable and the industry wanted real-time monitoring of brining quantities at plant level rather than spot checks on shop shelves.

Mr Lovell said both parties were keen to finalise the matter and agreed there was a need for regulation. At issue is the percentage of brine that should be injected into chicken portions. Mr Lovell said the industry wanted 25% for chicken portions, but the department was offering 15%. The association accepted the government limit of 10% for whole birds.

Higher levels of brining made chicken portions cheaper. He noted chicken portions were consumers’ preferred way of taking in protein, especially those for whom price was a concern.

Other issues on the table are the department’s suggestion that the product name would have to include a true description of the added formulated solution, for example "chicken with brine".

Producers would have to do regular tests to ensure compliance with new water uptake and injection limits, and would have to keep test records for at least one year.

Amendments would be phased in over six months so poultry producers could adjust gradually.

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