Misconceptions about halal certification are damaging to Australian companies trying to access foreign markets, according to a Senate submission by one of the country’s largest certifiers of halal food.
The call for an end to anti-halal campaigns follows a recent submission to the Senate inquiry into food certification by the Australian Food and Grocery Council, which argued halal certification enables up to $13 billion in food exports from Australian businesses each year.
In its submission, which has been seen by SmartCompany, the Halal Certification Authority Australia outlines how campaigns against certification have damaged businesses in Australia.
“Misinformation about Halal certification is false and designed to taint Halal Certification in general and HCAA in particular for bigoted reasons,” the authority said in its submission.
“With Halal certification, Australian companies have access to foreign markets where it is a basic requirement and are able to compete against products from other countries.”
“Without Halal certification many companies will stop trading at worst or have to shed staff at best to survive, a position that Australian government would not like to contemplate.”
The submission also rejects claims that HCAA forces companies to change the ingredients in their products to achieve certification, including the claims that suggested Vegemite was being altered to obtain certification.
“In fact [the authority] only certifies products that qualify as Halal in the first place,” HCAA said.
“Vegemite is identical as it has always been, but it needed a Halal certificate to be able to export to South East Asia and the Middle East.”
HCAA chief executive Nadia El-Mouelhy told SmartCompany this morning she hopes the submission will help put an end to some of the damage anti-halal campaigns had wrought on businesses
“Hopefully the boycotts can stop,” she says.
Peter Strong, chief executive of Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany he believes campaigns against such certification are anti-business.
“It’s business; we’ve had kosher food for a long time,” Strong says.
“If people are turning it into something, if people see it as something sinister or a plot, attacking business is the wrong way to get the message across.”
Strong believes those who attack businesses for using halal certification likely suffer from a “shallow intellect”.
“No business person should suffer because they put the word halal or kosher on their products,” he says.
Strong says there were “all sorts” of food labels and businesses who put stickers indicating a food was halal or kosher was a positive thing.
“Good on them, that’s called marketing,” he says.