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March 27, 2014

Meat processing plant in Jasper cited with health violations

Jasper — On Monday, March 17, the Florida Department of Health in Hamilton County received a nuisance complaint about improper storage of goat carcasses against House of Halal, also known as Quality Meats, a USDA meat processing plant located at 5128 Hwy. 41 So. in Jasper.

According to Department of Health Environmental Manager Sallie Ford from the Lake City office headquarters, a complaint was filed with the health department against House of Halal for improper storage of animal carcasses. A representative from the health department in Hamilton County stated that animal hides were hanging on the property fences and there were bad smells emanating from the property.

The health department went to the site the same day to investigate the complaint and cited the business with two violations: 1) Animal hides being stored in a manner to attract bugs and flies. 2) Animal hides being stored in a manner to cause odors and flies. Both are violations of Florida Statute 386.041.

A notice to abate the sanitary nuisance was placed on the gate of the facility, giving the owners 24 hours to make corrections. The notice was also mailed to the owners Mahammad and Aisha Iqbal of Jasper via certified mail.

The business was given until March 18, at 5 p.m. to correct the violations. Failure to correct the issues could result in possible administrative action by the state of Florida, according to the health department.

On Thursday, March 20, USDA Southeast Regional Director Larry Hortert in Atlanta confirmed by e-mail that House of Halal is still an active firm and still USDA inspected.

At the March 18 meeting of the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners, Commissioner Buster Oxendine advised the board members of the situation, stating he had been informed by a citizen who complained about goat hides, body parts and carcasses being piled up at the facility in a fenced in area.

“I drove out there and you probably could have put half of it in this room,” Oxendine said, referring to the commission chamber room. “There was a pile of it,” he added.

Oxendine said he took some photos while he was there.

“Some of them were covered with tarps and some of them were open, decaying...the smell was unreal,” he said.

After taking the photos, Oxendine said he took it upon himself to call the health department in Jasper, who in turn called their Lake City headquarters to speak to Sallie Ford in Environmental Health.

Oxendine assured the board that the issue was being addressed by the health department.

Ford said by phone on Wednesday, March 19, that she had finally made contact with the owners and they told her they were working on correcting the problem. A representative from the Florida Department of Health in Hamilton County went to the facility on Thursday, March 20, and reported that the site is being cleaned up, but not completed yet. As of Tuesday, March 25, Ron Taylor from the health department in Hamilton County stated that the site is still in the process of being cleaned up.

A phone call to House of Halal on Wednesday, March 19, and Tuesday, March 25, were both met with a recording that the number is no longer in service.

 

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