Poultry plant opens in Bladenboro
By Erin Smith
The plant is not your ordinary poultry processing plant. This plant uses the Muslim Orthodox Halal method of killing the poultry and preparing it for processing. Hera Khan explained that workers kill the chicken and offer a blessing over the bird, all by hand. He emphasized that in addition to meeting the standards of the Halal tradition, the meat must also pass the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection as well.
“We do not pre-stun the birds,” said Hera Khan.
He said once the birds are killed, the process from that point forward is automated. The plant has the capacity to slaughter up to 35,000 chickens in a day. Currently, the plant has 73 employees.
“We are uniquely a small bird plant,” said Hera Khan. He explained that most poultry plants process birds that weigh between 10 to 17 pounds when they are “dressed” but Khan’s plant produces birds that weigh between 3 to 3 1/2 pounds when “dressed.” He noted that the smaller birds are better quality and the meat is tender.
Hera Khan said their product is sold to distributors who then sell it to meat markets throughout the United States. He said he owns several Muslim markets in the New York and New Jersey area, and his business was growing faster than his suppliers could fulfill orders. This led to Gulzar Khan and Hera Khan deciding to enter the poultry processing business.
Hera Khan explained his father got his start in the poultry business in 1982 when Muslims were just beginning to migrate to the United States. “Since then until now, they have grown steadily and there is a need for Halal meats,” said Hera Khan.
He said the search was begun for a poultry processing plant to purchase. They purchased a small poultry processing plant before buying the building in Bladenboro. Hera Khan said there was a small goat processing plant located across from the Carrol Poultry Building and when he inquired, he learned he needed to contact Bladen County Economic Development Director Chuck Heustess.
“I was very surprised initially,” said Heustess.
He explained that when he first met with Hera and Gulzar Khan, he was not sure how the smaller building would fit their needs.
The building that now houses Carrol Poultry, LLC, was initially a “spec building”, according to Heustess.
“We had just funded an uplifting for Superior Media,” said Heustess.
He explained Superior Media was expanding from its Clarkton location at the time and the company needed new manufacturing lines, therefore they needed the new building. Heustess said the deal eventually fell apart and Superior Media did not expand.
Heustess said that the boilers and air compressors which were already installed in the building were ideal for Carrol Poultry.
“This has been one of the most complicated up-fits I’ve seen,” said Heustess.
Now, with the building renovations complete, Hera Khan said they are training new employees and learning the poultry processing business. He said they can supply chicken breasts, wings, boneless chicken breasts, boneless wings, chicken tenders and even whole birds, all prepared according to strict Halal standards.