Food certification discussion

Thanks Phil. Unfortunately, no matter how small it is, there IS a cost involved with certification by approved Islamic bodies and it is passed on to Australian consumers, the majority (97+%) who are not Islamic. It begs the question, why should the majority be penalized? Surely, consumers should be given the opportunity to make an informed purchase. Taking the argument further, what about certification for Agnostics that the products have no religious input at all? From the 2011 census, 22.3% of Australians (or 4,796,787 people) described themselves as having "no religion’.

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I don’t think the 0.0068 cents per Vegemite product (or $0.01 per 147 vegemite products sold) would be passed onto the consumer. It would be absorbed by the business and wouldn’t be surprised if it comes out of their marketing budget. In such case the real cost would be a reduction of $1500 for other forms of advertising.

It is also worth noting that they would not be certifying unless the $1500 would be readily recouped in the additional sales generated by the certification. In such case, there would be a maximum zero cost to consumer. In fact, the additional sales will increase manufacturing efficiency and productivity, thus reducing manufacturing costs. Reduction in manufacturing costs will either (or both) reduce price paid by the consumer or to cover any business costs such as halal certification.

Saying that voluntary certification of any form is a cost to consumers goes against marketing and business development principles. If the business increses its costs from such certification with no net gain, they would drop such certification (businesses are not charities and spend money such as voluntary certification unless there is significant financial reward to the business…namely, increasing its profits).

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Not true, you pay for the tick of approval from the Heart Foundation, you pay for the organic certification of fruit and vegs, and there are probably many more things that are included in the price of the goods we buy. I am not saying you do not have the right to disagree, or are not allowed to boycott halal foods, but there was a small company in SA that lost a contract with an airline because of the protest about its halal certification. The certification is necessary to sell food products overseas and is on nearly everything we buy, including Cadbury’s chocolate. To compete in overseas trade its a no-brainer, simply get the certification and export and hopefully create more jobs, instead of losing them, as happened to the SA company, and it was nearly sent to the wall. It was not a multinational, but a mum and dad small business who missed out on a fabulous business opportunity they will never get again.

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I must admit to being late to this particular religion-bashing frenzy. Seriously, people, where does this idea that ‘halal certification funds terrorism’ come from?

How does it compare with “the Catholic Church funds terrorism” cries in the 1970s when the IRA was blowing up all sorts of people and places?

How does it compare to all the other potential ‘funders of terrorism’ - like (as has been pointed out) oil? Don’t forget where the vast majority of 9/11 attackers originated - and it was neither Afghanistan nor Iraq, but one of the West’s biggest ‘allies’ in the Middle East.

The reason that this thread gets me so furious, though, is that it has a nasty odour of racism. I’m not accusing any individual ‘contributor’, but how would a young Muslim who has grown up in Australia and in the faith feel if they read the things said here about their religion? These are people who are bullied at school because of their faith, maligned by politicians who find that fear is a great way to get attention, and feel alienated from the society in which they grew up because we push them away! It is very easy to see how someone in that situation might be easily enticed into doing something against a world that so obviously hates them! It is harder for me to understand how so many manage to cope with the garbage we heap on an entire group of people just because of the tiniest minority within that group - but they do, and we should be trying to help them rather than denigrate them at every turn.

This is a forum to assist your fellow consumers, not to spread vitriol and lies about strangers.

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We buy only brands that are not Halal certified. After the outing of Coon cheese for having the halal logo on the inside of the packet so you can only see it after opening our research showed only 2 brands , both of which also taste great. Great Ocean Road and Coles , though some boutique European cheeses are also no halal.

While you are clearly exercising choice (no pun) you could be restricting your choice (no pun) of cheese for arbitrary reasons, or valid reasons as you see them. As you indicated you are new to the forum you might enjoy some of this thread.

https://choice.community/t/vegemite-returns-to-australia/13187/13

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thank you that thread was very interesting. I’m still learning how to navigate around the system. In terms of religious certifying of food, in my view there are only two possibilities.It is completely meaningless in which case why do it?, or 2 it provides at a cost some form of religious enhancement, in which case as an atheist I find it adulterated, so I won’t buy it, In either case I would prefer to buy food not adulterated by a practice i do not acknowledge. So Great Ocean Road or Coles - both of which are great cheeses.

There is a article in the Bega District News which comments on why cheese is halal certified. Without the certification, Australian farmer products like cheese could not be exported to many countries. Having the certification not only allows the export of certified products to these countries, it gives Australian farmers access to markets which would otherwise not have exist. If access was not possible, it is highly likely that it would impact on farmers income and also the whole of the dairy industry.

It is also worth noting that there is no difference between certified or uncertified cheese. The only difference is the misconception of what halal means and this misconception can impact on our farmers and the agricultural export industry.

Virtually all agricuktural industries have levies or membership fees for a range of difference purposes. This includes industry associations through to certifications such as Organic, Hala, HACCP or Halal. There are also licence fees like those imposed by local governments in Australia for food outets. As outlined in the vegemite thread, the cost impact of Halal certification is negligible and would be more than covered by the increase in sales of the certificated products to those countries which require Halal certification. As a result, there would be no net change in cost to the Australian consumer.

You may he surprised that most foods are ‘touched’ by religions. Whether this is kosher, foods for religious purposes (even alcohol, if you drink alcohol, has historical religious meanings), parts of the food industry which either owns or operates food production or food products and the list goes on. There are very few foods which have no association with religion.

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And we wouldn’t want to accidentally support the Islamisation of Australia would we.

Stay away from pasta too in case you support the Flying Spaghetti Monster {Blessed be his Noodliness}

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Ramen to that :wink:

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Product certification is used for a number of purposes. These are often through third parties which have specific requirements or criteria at allow a recognisable logo to used on a particular product. These purposes include for:

Note: the above examples are not an exhaustive list of potential certifications available to the product producers/manufacturers.

If one spends time, there are dozens of certification or labelling programs available to producers/manufacturers to differentiate their products or to allow them to open new consumer markets.

It is also worth noting that some of the industry associations also charge levies (some allow use of their labels on products) which are used to support the industry. Support may come in the form of research, marketing, export advice etc. Governments also charge levies on some products to recover costs associated with their administration. An example is those charged by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Some of the costs to business are voluntary (such as organic or Kosher) or compulsory (such as some industry levies).

As outlined in posts above, many businesses chose to participate in a voluntary certification program as it can enable their products to be exposed to new markets. New markets usually means higher product demand, which potentially improves the income of the producer/manufacturer and also particularly allows Australia’s food excesses to be exported to countries where there may be local food product deficits (or the food is not grown locally).

A business would not usually chose to participate in a voluntary program unless there is a net increase in profits (namely, increase in the producer/manufacturing business profits after any costs associated with participating in the program is considered).

Choice also has information on some of the certification/labelling programs here.

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Do you buy anything from Kellogg, or eat corn flakes at all? You may want to read about the company founder and his inventive brother, and the company’s practices and beliefs over the decades. Similarly Sanitarium - and presumably you already know about Quaker Oats. There go most of your breakfast cereal options, if you’re choosing not to eat food that has been adulterated by religion.

Ever bought any gold or diamonds? What about oil - did you make sure you knew which country it was coming from, to ensure you were not helping to fund a religious government?

It is pretty much impossible to stop your money from going towards some religion or another; blocking one particular option seems to me to be doing little to express your opinion except as it relates to that particular religion.

While many of us share your belief that the world would be better without religion, we do not choose to cut off our noses to spite our faces (an action that was allegedly taken by members of a Scottish nunnery who hoped to avoid being raped by the invading Vikings - who instead burned down the nunnery, with nuns inside, out of disgust). You are hurting your own options as a consumer, to little if any benefit.

(A cheese exporter that decided not to get halal certification would similarly be cutting off their nose to spite their face - excluding themselves from access to major cheese markets without any commercial benefit and without affecting the supply of cheese to those markets.)

Finally, I suggest you should choose carefully when deciding which industries to attack. Remember: blessed are the cheesemakers.

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not actually attacking anyone. However we prefer to know how products have been adulterated with and what before we buy , and choose those products whose manufacturers deliberately choose not to adulterate their products we things we don’t like. This especially applies to things we eat. Manufactures who choose to adulterate their products with substances or processes not traditional in Australia should be prepared to say so and consumers are then free to choose. Great Ocean Road and Coles cheeses have chosen not to jump in this particular new sales tool , and we reward them for it. We also choose not to eat things we know are adulterated with palm oil or antibiotics either. So the the general point, Consumers should be able to know what products we eat are adulterated with/by , and choose accordingly. And comparative consumer reviews of products should list contents - including religious processes applied to food. I imagine a lot of the consumers buying because of halal certification would be horrified if the food had been also blessed by a priest of another religion or sprinkled with holy water as a marketing tool.

Halal certification does not involve adding any new ingredient to your food - including ‘holy water’, which I would indeed be annoyed by because I don’t know where that water has been. This article, which I understand has already been posted earlier in this discussion, makes very clear why a company might seek Halal certification - and what this involves for the cheesemaker.

As for what is ‘not traditional in Australia’, do you mean in Australia of the last 200 years, or Australia of the last 60,000 years? In the long term, everything is ‘traditional’ - but we often view ‘traditional’ as ‘what my last couple of generations of ancestors did/knew/ate’. In fact, your diet now is nothing like what it would have been 100 years ago. Additionally, Australia is a multicultural country, and businesses have to provide for people from a range of cultures and backgrounds.

I am unsure what your objection is to palm oil (Google suggests the loss of rainforests?), but agree that antibiotics have been and continue to be misused enormously. In fact, my suspicion is that this has led to all sorts of unintended health consequences for human consumers. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to avoid meat that has been fed antibiotics - I cannot recall anything on the labelling to indicate whether my chicken was fed antibiotics.

Finally, I do have concerns about halal - and kosher - treatment of cattle and sheep. I am not sure, though, that our ‘traditional’ methods of slaughter have been much or any better than these religion-driven practices - and would certainly love to see the day when farming escapes from the current ‘factory’ processes that it has adopted over the last 50 to 100 years and that ignore the welfare of animals. I heard a story recently about meat being grown from stem cells, and maybe one day this will be the normal manner in which we get our beef, chicken, pork, etc. Of course, there is another debate looming before that kind of practice becomes ‘traditional’.

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Yes they have. Great Ocean cheese is halal certified, as well as much of the Coles branded cheese range. While I haven’t checked, as Coles doesn’t make its own cheese but enters into supply contracts for such products The manufacturer of their cheeses is most likely halal certified and the same or similar either is despatched as Cole branded or under the manufacturer’s own brand.

It is probably good you didn’t know as it makes no real difference. If you were Muslim, it would make a difference as one would then have the confidence the cheese could be eaten to meet ones own beliefs.

Such certification occurs after product development, not before it…products are not specifically changed to allow halal certification.

It is certified to broaden the market of the existing product.

For example, there is no difference between (pre and post) certified milk, veges, fruit, vegemite or other products, or between two brands of the same product, one which is and one not certified.

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The last time they did this, I believe they said it was for the benefit of the consumer because they wouldn’t eat so much chocolate which might be bad for you. I don’t buy Cadbury anymore since I found out they pay extortion money to a HALAL organization. Started to buy Whittakers but Cadbury seem to use their clout with the supermarkets and the other brands receive minimal display , if any.

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Interesting comment as Whittaker’s chocolates are also halal certified. Refer to their FAQs on their website…

Choice has covered Halal certification, it is worth reading this information from an impartial and independent organisation. If you class the Commonwealth government (who manages Halal certification in Australia) as exhorting money, then that is your prerogative.

The very small cost for certification increases the market opportunities for the companies who chose to have their products certified. These increased opportunities increase their profits which more than covers these small certification costs.

There are threads on this community which discuss halal certification and what it means for the consumer. It is also worth reading these threads.

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I still buy lots of products with certifications I’m not interested in.

  • Certified Organic
  • GMO Free project certified
  • Halal certification
  • Kosher Certification
    And so on.

In my experience none of these labels effect the quality, value or human impact of what I’m buying so I don’t factor them in to my decision making. In a way only buying products without those labels is itself falling for marketing tactics.

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Thanks for the update. I was not aware about Whittakers being HALAL also. Another one to cross off the shopping list.

Honestly as a consumer there’s not really any particular reason Halal certified chocolate is in any way inferior to non-Halal chocolate. All avoiding it achieves is artificially inconveniencing yourself to get a product that may well not be as good or as cheap.

And if you are worried about the human impact of the certifications on your chocolate, picking something made in/close to Australia and picking Fair Trade options is going to have a far greater impact on the world than whether it’s Halal (as Halal only means it’s free of Pork, Alcohol and a number of other ingredients.

Also remember the whole point of Choice is to fight for consumer rights. And it’s an important right for Muslim/Jewish/Vegetarian/Vegan etc. consumers to have clear labeling that lets them determine what is permissible under their belief system imo

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