Another example of how the minority rule over the majority.
All 8500 prisoners in the New Zealand prison system eat halal-certified meat, despite only 82 prisoners identifying themselves as Muslim.
For a meat processor to be halal-certified, meat must be slaughtered by Muslims and cannot be contaminated by alcohol or pig products.
Corrections rehabilitation general manager Phil McCarthy confirmed, in response to an Official Information Act request, that the department had bought meat from a halal-accredited supplier since 2005.
Mr McCarthy said the department had a national supply agreement with Napier-based Bay Cuisine.
After a 2004 national menu review, it was decided tenderers for the meat contract needed to have halal certification.
It did not cost the department more to buy food from a halal-credited supplier, despite extra costs linked to certification.
New Zealand Islamic Meat Management and the Federation of Islamic Associations provide halal certification in New Zealand.
A federation spokesman said it cost up to $2000 for a processing firm to be halal-certified. The premises were then checked by a supervisor about every fortnight. The certification was also renewed every year.
Mr McCarthy said when providing food the department made allowances “as far as practicable in the circumstances” for the religious and spiritual needs of prisoners. Prisoners could choose a vegetarian or vegan menu or a non-pork diet, he said.
“The Department of Corrections acknowledges that food is an important part of the religious observances of many prisoners and endeavours to meet their needs by the provision of alternative options to the standard menu.”
The department needed large volumes of food and could therefore reduce costs through economy of scale.
In the 2007-08 year, 8,333,515 meals were provided from prison kitchens, at an average cost of $4.12 a prisoner a day for three meals.
* The animal must be slaughtered by Muslims in accordance with the Islamic Shariah (religious guidelines).
* The meat must not be contaminated by non-Halal meat during transportation, storage or display.
* Alcohol and intoxicants must not be used in the preparation or storage of products.
* Pig or pig products must not be used in the making/preparation of individual products.