The truth behind halal certification 353



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For something that divides so many, it’s amazing how little we, as consumers, truly know about halal certification.

Last night, Four Corners aimed to set the record straight, airing an in-depth investigative piece that shed brand new light on what this practice actually means for consumers.

First and foremost, those who wish to avoid halal foods may have some trouble: you probably eat it every day.

“We have managed to establish at least 80 per cent of the chicken processed in Australia comes from halal certified plants”, reporter Geoff Thompson told 3AW.

Vegemite, Weat Bix, Kellogg’s cereal and Cadbury chocolate also have the certification. But why are so many companies doing this when relatively little of the population identifies as Muslim?

“The reason that’s put to us is that it’s cheaper and simpler to halal certify everything”, said Thompson.

For food producers, it makes a lot of sense. “The manufacturer pays for an inspection to gain halal certification, which in turn opens up lucrative markets”.

According to Export Business Advisor, halal certification is “a ticket to play”.

But how much does it cost us here at home? Surprisingly little. It may even be saving us money.

Thompson gives Vegemite as a popular example: they produce 20 million jars a year. To pay just $1 to a halal certifier, you would have to consume 2000 jars of Vegemite”.

“It’s not an insignificant cost when you add it up across the board, but the average consumer isn’t really bearing any of that cost at all”.

“In fact, there’s an argument that it could be cheaper because they’re accessing export markets, and the production cost overall will bring things down”.

So what happens with that money?

Some certifiers are privately-run businesses, with the money going into their own profits and operational costs. However, it is common for these businesses to be generous within the Islamic community; in one recent example, it helped build a school and orphanage.

In response to suggestions it funds terrorism: the reporters did not find any evidence in their thorough search – nor have the Australian Crime Commission or ASIO before them.

This sentiment is echoed by the program Fact Check, which concluded: “while the system is not exactly transparent… we couldn’t find any evidence that halal certification was onerous to business, nor that the money was being used illegally”.

Are you happy buying halal certified food? And will the ABC’s findings change the way you shop?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Strewth, this should get some people going, lol. Halal cerification is exactly the same as the Heart foundation tick, and no-one complains about that. It’s a business decision, if a product is Halal certified obviously there is a bigger market. There is no Halal tax. In view of the fact that no-one utters a peep about Kosher food, you have to think it’s because Halal is connected to the Islamic faith. Wouldn’t some people freak out if they knew one of the biggest and most popular brands of vitamins is owned by a Muslim family

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  2. I watched Four Corners and it really confirmed what I have always thought, there has been a great to do over nothing. Australia needs to export food into the huge Muslim market to keep and create jobs. The argument that we don’t export a product so why is it halal certified does not acknowledge that many companies are trying to get into export markets, or their product may be an ingredient in something that is exported. We’ve had Kosher food about for years, the Seventh Day Adventist owned a chain of food stores and the brand name products. Taxes I pay may be used by the Government to fund Christian schools, its just a fact of life our money can end up in all sorts of places we may not choose for it to go.

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    • The way the food is made hasn’t changed, it’s just an acknowledgement that it’s made in a way that is acceptable to Muslims. No-one will stop me eating my beloved Vegemite

    • I have been buying Cadbury’s chocolates, because these idiots are send Cabury broke, 80 people got put out of work in Tassie because no one is buying. The reclaim nutters just do harm to local businesses and jobs

    • It’s sad how many bigots there are in Australia, and they’ve been given tacit approval to stick their heads above the parapet by our racist ‘leader’

    • Yes Libbi I watched them wander about draped in Australian flags and thought how stupid they looked. They’d rather see Australians out of work, companies go broke than recognise how damaging their pathetic stance is.

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      • The cup who runs the Halal certification in Aust, is a pig, the way he speaks to people on FB is disgusting, Have you seen he is a Millionaire. How come he makes s much money. If they earn that much money it should be accountable. Like all these charities the Bosses take 80% of it in salaries. I will wait till Govt, has finished this Inquiry. I just heard Minister in Indonesia saying YES, there were a few problems with the certification of meat in Australia.

    • My favourite moment of their protest was when I realised they spelt Australia incorrectly

    • My all-time favorite, and please excuse the language, is a sign I saw which literally read ” Fuck off Asians we’re fool!”…yes that’s “fool” not, full…..says it all really.

    • Wake up Australia! It is a scam! Funding mosques. Do some research and see where this ridiculous tax is going. Perhaps you will understand what is happening when your granddaughters are wearing burkas . There is a much bigger agenda here

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      • Halal certification will not islamify Australia. Kosher certified food has been around for ages and I’m yet to see us all turn Jewish. Halal certification provides 60,000 people with jobs. What if the money does build a mosque. Doesn’t the money given at a Christian church go towards the upkeep of the churches and priests homes? I can’t believe hoe bigoted some people are.

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        • Thank you Robyn for some common sense amongst all this ignorant bigotry.

    • Here comes the name-calling. So much hatred because we have a problem with halal certification. Says more about you really.

    • Mariane wow how on Earth do you make that insane leap. What a bigot, freedom of religion is a basic right in Australia. That a Muslim organisation donate money to fund a mosque, to me is no different than a Jew donating for a synagogue, Buddhist or Hindu their own place of worship, or Christians to the Church. What would worry me is if one cent of my money went to fund a bigoted organisation like Reclaim Australia or other similar organisations.

    • Not all the “facts” were presented on Four Corners (it slanted towards Halal). Companies are being strong armed into paying halal certification fees (even on products Muslims acknowledge as not needing it – milk, eggs, water etc) why? To make money. Also, entire slaughterhouse work places will not employ anyone who is not Muslim – because they are (by their own words) “unclean”; so it isn’t just an Imam that has to be employed, it is a Muslim workforce too (anyone would be up for discrimination – taking jobs from qualified Aussies). So, so much more to this discussion

    • I think in a democracy we should be able to voice our opinions without being called names! We all seemed to have watched the same program and came away with differing opinions which is fine ! We just have to agree to disagree until history tells us who was right!

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    • you are the one with problem Jill Medew , I still buy these products and will continue to do so, people like you are putting Australians out of work

    • Michele that is an over simplification. I heard of a country abattoir that could not get locals to work there as they did not like the work. They brought Muslims into the area who were willing to do the work, halal certification came afterwards. This town that was likely to lose a major industry and employer in the town stayed open, locals who would work on the slaughter floor or butchering the carcasses, took jobs in packaging and other areas. Other businesses in the town benefitted from the extra people and money in the town. Maybe some areas are restricted to Muslims to get halal certification but the flow on employment into other areas can be significant.

    • you are a better person than me Barbara Easthope I have zero tolerance for bigots. I do not want to know them, you have more patience than I do..cheers

    • Leanna I just can’t believe their ignorance and how they let their bigotry lead them to believe conspiracy theories that are absurd. They certainly don’t let facts and truth get in their way.

    • Typical lefties Jill Medew, they can’t have a mature discussion without name calling!

    • Nonsense that I’m putting Australians out of work. We still have to live but for instance I’m buying from my local non halal butcher, The meat is much better too. I still buy things at the shops, just not halal certified.

    • Halal certification is mainly for the export market, you harm few Jill if you don’t personally buy halal certified products after all there are also people employed by the non halal producers. The problem is created when people demonstrate, threaten and otherwise intimidate producers into dropping halal certification. That costs jobs as export markets are lost. The nature of some of the intimidation too has been appalling, death threats, abusive phone calls all hours of the day even children threatened. I boycott products out of concern for the environment, particularly Palm Oil, as far as I see it that’s your right as an individual. Threats and intimidation are just the activities of thugs.

    • Kosher is not forced on everyday food items (& only people who need it pay extra for it); Seventh Day Adventist (I assume you are talking about Sanitarium), you can choose to buy that brand or not. But with Halal it is on just about every product you buy – so very little choice to buy Halal or not. I strongly object to my freedom to choose be taken away

    • Barbra, the funding of mosques is very different to Buddhist, Jews, Christians etc supporting their own religion. Not every Australian is made to pay (via the supermarket) to these organizations. Again, my rights have been denied

    • That is not correct Michele Orban, I have had first hand experience with abattoirs and know for a fact that you are not required to be a Muslim to butcher meat. There is the ritual of wearing clean clothing when processing Halal products, no more no less.

    • A storm in a tea cup, we’ve been producing and consuming Halal certified products for decades.

    • These right wing nutters make me sick, they do plenty of harm and no good, the only bonus is this reflects badly on the Abbott Government

  3. I watched 4 corners too but it did not take much of a genius to investigate on your own, this whole Halal is an excuse for people to be bigoted, The Department of Agriculture issue people a license to certify products, the Minister for approving that process is Barnaby Joyce. Without a license you could not certify anything as Halal and Joyce is all in favour of the certification because it helps manufacturers to sell goods in other countries. These Reclaim people have in effect been protesting the Liberal Government

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  4. Why is it not certified for nothing? Why do they need payment for their food blessing? Why can’t the food be blessed with out payment?

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    • Why can’t things be heart foundation certified without payment? Surely heart health is important for the whole population

    • Heart foundation is a business, its goal is to make money. why isn’t their a charitable kind Inman or mufti out their willing to bless the food for the benefit of his(not her) religion for no charge, doing a good deed, looking after his flock. if I had the honour to certify and bless my followers food would I not do it for free?

    • Getting Halal certifiction is a business too, more profit for these companies means they remain viable and can continue employing Aussies

    • I ask again, why can’t a thoughtful mufti bless the food for free, to benefit the minority?

    • How long will it be before this practice becomes compulsory? we stopped exporting live sheep and cattle because of the barbaric method of slaughter required to bless this food, why? Ahh! Its for profit. the food can’t be blessed for free for a believe because they have to profit.

    • Yes it does Terry. You think the Muslims are getting the money don’t you, where the reality is the only ones benefiting are the company making the product . The food isn’t being blessed, the company submits their product to be assessed for Halal certifiction. They pay for that assessment and that’s the end of the payments. There is no Halal tax, every product does not cost more because the Muslims get a %, but you don’t want to believe that do you

    • Why can’t the certification be free no charge, I don’t really care where the money goes, but why can’t the certification be without a cost to anybody why do people/corporate have to make profit on a certification? No one seems to know. The only certification required on any food is that it’s that it’s hygienic.

    • The people giving certification charge a fee. Just like if you are ‘certified organic’. You have to pay a fee. It’s normal business practise.It’s only the uneducated bigots who see something sinister in it.There are very few food processors who do not have to have some kind of certification or accreditation & all of them attract a fee.

  5. I buy it, it doesn’t bother me, it is not like they add anything to the food and funds stay in Australia and go towards helping schools and other charities

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    • I think you may be wrong there but I will watch it again and check, I distinctly remember them showing a school in Australia and telling them what building are going up there

    • ICCV deputy chairman Ekrem Ozyurek said that while mostly, the money from the half certification was spent “in Australia for Australians”, the ICCV would help “if the MUI said, ‘Look, we are doing something. We are in need of money. Can you help us in any way?’”.However, there was no evidence to suggest that any funding was directed toward terrorist organisations.

  6. I’ve always thought this fuss over halal was ridiculous. Fear and hate whipped up by ignorance, as usual.

  7. The Four Corners program was very interesting and should answer many questions. Didn’t worry me before, doesn’t worry me now. More important things in the world to worry about.

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