– Two related companies that distribute and certify halal food products pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to export misbranded beef products for sale in Malaysia, and elsewhere.

Midamar Corp. and Islamic Services of America each entered guilty pleas in federal court in Cedar Rapids to one count of conspiracy to make false statements on export certificates, sell misbranded meat and commit wire fraud, among other offenses.

Under the plea agreement, each company must forfeit $600,000 in proceeds derived from the scheme. They could also face probation and an additional fine at sentencing.

U.S. District Judge Linda Reade rejected the companies’ claims that the charges were regulatory violations that should have been handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Midamar is a food distributor, while ISA certifies Midamar and other companies’ food products as halal and is one of the few organizations approved to certify beef for import into Malaysia, Indonesia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

ASSOCIATED PRESS