​Food and beverage manufacturers resist “anti-halal” campaign

The Australian Food and Grocery Council has
said there are no plans to yield to a “misinformation”-based anti-halal
movement.

The AFGC told The Guardian that there was no
mood to distance itself from halal certification among his group, with spokesperson
James Mathews noting the campaign was “one of
misinformation.”

The AFGC is the country’s peak food and
beverage industry organisation, representing the largest manufacturing sector.

Anti-halal campaigns have targeted companies
including Cadbury’s Kellogg’s and Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company, which
recently dropped its halal certification following social media, email and
phone harassment.

“The publicity we were getting was quite negative and
something we probably didn’t need and we decided we would pull the pin and stop
supplying Emirates Airlines,” Food Magazine quotes Nick Hutchinson, sales and marketing manager of FMYC, as saying earlier this week.

“Ninety per cent of it has been social media, but I have
received calls from people that are quite unhappy, I guess, about our decisions
and so forth, and [we have also received] a lot of emails.”

Fleurieu adopted halal certification due to a
$50,000 contract to supply airline Emirates, News Corp reports.

Hutchinson explained the decision as driven by
his workers’ welfare first.

According to Halal Choices, which is
campaigning against certification, the cost of certification “could be paying a fee for an Islamic ritual service you do
not require” and did not serve the interests of mainstream Australians.

The issue is contentious issue for some, for
example one commenter on this website, who wrote “The halal tax rort
funds things like islamic schools, mosques and then there’s terrorism!…The halal tax generates $3 TRILLION that money has to be
channeled somewhere and there is very little chance that the islamic councils
will let anybody see the books.”

The treatment of FMYC was strongly criticised by the SA government, with trade minister Martin Hamilton-Smith
saying the company “should be rewarded not ridiculed” and
the protestors were unhelpful for Australia’s trade relationships.

“Prejudice has no place in Australia. One of
our key friends and trading partners Indonesia is the largest Islamic country
in the world – we should embrace these opportunities rather than exclude them,”
the minister said.