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Were Butterball Turkeys Sold in the United States ‘Blessed by Allah’?

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Claim

The Butterball Company sold turkeys across the U.S. in 2011 that were "blessed by Allah" and Halal-certified.

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Not True
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Reporting

Anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller attempted to gin up controversy in 2011 by painting Thanksgiving dinners as being targeted by a non-existent Islamic “threat” in a little seasonal racism that recurs nearly every year.

In a post that November, Geller expanded on a claim she had made the previous year that “only two plants in the U.S. that perform halal slaughter keep the halal meat separated from the non-halal meat, and they only do so because plant managers thought it was right to do so.”

She added:

A citizen activist and reader of my website AtlasShrugs.com wrote to Butterball, one of the most popular producers of Thanksgiving turkeys in the United States, asking them if their turkeys were halal. Wendy Howze, a Butterball Consumer Response Representative, responded: “Our whole turkeys are certified halal.”

In a little-known strike against freedom, yet again, we are being forced into consuming meat slaughtered by means of a torturous method: Islamic slaughter.

The fabricated outrage paved the way for a Facebook group to call for a boycott of the Butterball Company. But the allegations by both Geller and the alleged “citizen activist” did not hold up; a spokesperson from the Butterball Company told us that the turkeys the company sells in the U.S. are not Halal-certified or “blessed” by any particular deity.

Prior to hosting her own show on the news network MSNBC, Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry reported the same as a guest host on the network’s Rachel Maddow Show. Harris-Perry said:

We contacted Butterball to ask them if their turkeys are certified halal. And here`s their statement in response: “Our domestic products are not halal certified and thus, do not require any additional packaging or labeling. As is common within the industry, when we started to export our products overseas, we applied for and met the necessary requirements of halal processing for a segment of our business. Butterball whole turkeys are produced in a manner that meets those requirements if need, but only turkeys exports to specific countries are certified halal.” So, Pamela Geller, not a mosque, not Ground Zero and not halal.

Meanwhile, the website The American Muslim raised the point that Butterball turkeys not marketed as “halal” before further debunking Geller’s claim:

Many Sikhs and most Hindus don’t eat any meat at all, no matter how it’s slaughtered. And, if halal is cruel, then the same would be true of kosher. If the method of slaughter is the problem then the objection logically would include both halal and kosher.

In fact, the rules for Kosher and Halal slaughter are very similar. Both slit the throat in one cut without cutting the spinal cord and the blood must be drained. Both must use a sharp knife with no nicks, and not sharpen it in front of the animal. For kosher the animal must also be soaked in salted water to remove the last of the blood. One difference is that Muslims must pronounce God’s name before slaughtering each animal, Jews must only pronounce a prayer before the first and last animals that are to be slaughtered at one time. After the actual slaughter there are differences in which parts of the animal may be used, etc. Kosher rules are more strict, and therefore observant Jews will not substitute halal for kosher, but many Muslims will substitute kosher for halal if halal is not available.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has kept an extensive log of Geller’s smears against Muslims and the Islamic religion:

Geller has a long history of working with extremists and racists in the United States, Canada and Europe, including the Jewish Defense League, the English Defense League and the white nationalist group Bloc Identitaire, among others.

Despite being based on disinformation, the Facebook group calling for the boycott of Butterball turkeys remains active, a decade later.

Update 11/04/21, 3 p.m. pst: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here.