Four men in the West Java capital of Bandung have been arrested for selling pork disguised as beef in the past year.
Bandung City Police Chief Hendra Kurniawan said that the four suspects – identified as 54-year-old T, 45-year-old MP, 38-year-old AR, and 39-year-old AS – have sold more than 63 tons of fake beef in one year. Their crime is especially serious in Muslim-majority Indonesia as pork is haram (forbidden for consumption by Muslims).
Hendra said T and MP were from Solo and had been renting a house in Bandung in the last year. T and MP were reportedly meat dealers in the operation, whereas AR and AS also doubled as resellers, selling the meat in Majalaya and Baleendah sub-districts, respectively.
T and MP purchased the pork for IDR45,000 per kilogram from their friend in Solo, which were then processed to resemble the overall appearance of beef using borax, a powdery white mineral that is better known as a cleaning product.
The fake beef was sold for IDR60,000 per kilogram to AR and AS, who then sold the product on to local markets and directly to the public for IDR85,000 to IDR90,000 per kilogram.
"Physically, pork is more pale, but beef is redder. The [borax] process [turns] the pork to become more similar, more red just like beef," Hendra was quoted as saying, adding that the public should be wary of beef sold cheaper than the usual market price.
Police have confiscated a total of 600 kilograms of pork, which was likely going to be sold as beef, from the suspects.
The suspects were each charged with violating laws on farming and animal health as well as consumer protection, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.