Halal Campbell soup: Mm, Mm, not so good?
(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A food fight seems to be brewing. In North America and Europe, the last few months have seen simmering disputes over halal food products, a major part of Muslim life.
Halal is a certification; think of it as a Muslim stamp of approval. When something's deemed halal, it is "permissible or allowed according to Allah and the Prophet Muhammad." That's according to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). They're one of a number of groups that certify halal foods.
The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America says that halal foods can't contain pork, carnivorous animals or birds of prey. Also not halal: alcoholic beverages.
In order for meat to be halal, when an animal is slaughtered, the name Allah must be pronounced during the killing, and the animal must be cut quickly, with a sharp blade and at a major artery in the neck, to speed death by the rapid loss of blood. Muslims are also taught that animals must be well rested, fed wholesome foods and handled in a way that minimizes suffering during slaughter.
Recently, Campbell's Soup in Canada sought and received halal certification for some of its products, but American bloggers are condemning the company's move. The bloggers claim that the Islamic Society of North America, which certified Campbell's, is tied to controversial Islamic groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The ISNA denies those charges. (No halal Campbell's products will be sold in the United States.)
Across the Atlantic, halal food is causing controversy, as well. Quick, a fast-food chain in France, recently started selling halal hamburgers at 22 of its restaurants, to better accommodate a growing population of French Muslims.
But as The Post reported last week, "The decision to serve halal burgers, with its bow to Muslim buying power, has produced an outcry among some political leaders, who regard it as an affront to France's Christian traditions and official secularism." One French mayor even charged Quick with discrimination, leading to a criminal investigation.
Other cultures have had food controversies, too. McDonald's came under fire in India for using beef tallow in its fries. The company ultimately paid out $10 million in 2002 to vegetarian and religious groups in the country.
But the intersections of food, culture and religion don't always end in strife. For instance, one of the most popular hot dog brands in America is Hebrew National, maker of classic kosher beef franks.
| October 18, 2010; 12:10 PM ET
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