Claims about Cadbury, Other Certified Halal Products Sold in Australia-Truth! & Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
A forwarded email claims that Cadbury products are labeled certified halal, and a portion of sales go to Muslim organizations that support terrorism.
Some Cadbury (and many other) products are labeled as certified halal, but claims that those who buy the products are supporting terrorism are false.
The forwarded email first surfaced in 2009. A consumer in Australia who found a halal certification symbol “hidden” on a Cadbury product’s packaging wrote the email:
I checked out Cadbury today at Woolworths!!! No more Cadbury’s for me!!! I will check everything from now on… It is also on my Bega Cheese.
This is absolute fact. Before Lorraine went shopping Monday I showed her this email. She looked at the products in the shop mentioned and they had the symbol hidden on the back of the packaging and in a very weak colour that was hard to see…
That claim is true, but it’s misleading to suggest that the company has “hidden” the fact that some of its products are certified halal. Cadbury lists more than 75 products as certified halal on its website.
Then the forwarded email goes on to suggest that Cadbury pays the Halal Certification Authority for use of the certified halal symbol, and that the money “may” be used to support terrorism:
This is a Muslim Association that collects money from the Australian Food Industry for this symbol so that Muslims will purchase the product. Yet we are told the Muslim population are only one and a half percent of Australia’s total! On a recent radio talk-back show a well known host was alerted to this practice.
He hit a stone wall when trying to find out HOW MUCH money was paid to this organization and WHERE the money went.
That claim mirrors a larger movement against certified halal products that has been taking place in Australia in recent years. Social media campaigns have called for the boycott of companies that produce certified halal products, and a Change.org petition to “ban the forced halal certification being imposed on all Australians.”
There are a number of problems with these claims. First, halal certification is not “being imposed on all Australians.” Individual companies decide whether or not to make halal products, and whether or not to get third-party groups to certify halal product claims, according to the Australian Food and Grocery Council:
It is up to the manufacturer whether or not to make a halal claim for a particular product. A manufacturer can also claim that a food is halal without the claim needing to be certified (the Australian Consumer Law prohibits any false, misleading or deceptive claims). Certification simply provides third party assurance that the claim is valid. It is up to manufacturers to decide whether the marketing benefits of certification outweigh the costs.
The forwarded email also claims that companies are catering to Muslims even though they make up less than 2% of the country’s population. However, the Halal Certification Authority allows companies to label certified halal products for sale in Australia, the Americas, Asia and Europe. Overall, the certification allows companies to reach “one fifth of the Muslim population worldwide,” so the market extends well beyond Australia.
Companies that do choose to label certified halal products typically pay an annual licensing fee to use the certification logo, an ABC affiliate in Australia reports:
Processed food companies, who generally pay a set yearly fee for halal certification, were more willing to talk, but few would disclose exactly what this costs.
The Byron Bay Cookie Company said its annual halal certification fee was around $1,500 a year.
This represented about 0.003 per cent of its total cost of doing business, a spokesman told Fact Check.
Geoff Hutchinson, a director of the Fleurieu Milk Company, which forfeited a $50,000 contract to supply yoghurt to Emirates airlines after a sustained anti-halal social media campaign, says halal certification for the contract cost about $1,000, or two per cent of the contract.
A spokeswoman for Nestle said the fees the company paid were negligible in the context of its total business.
“They do not influence the price at which we sell our products. We don’t pass this cost on,” she said.
And authorities in Australia have investigated claims that licensing fees for certified halal product logos have been used to support terrorism, and no proof has been found, the Australian Crime Commission reports:
The Australian Crime Commission-led Eligo National Task Force is focused on the use of the alternative money remittance sector and other informal value transfer systems (IVTS) by serious and organised crime.
The task force has identified direct links between serious and organised crime, money laundering and terrorism funding. However, the Australian Crime Commission is not aware of any direct links between the legitimate halal certification industry and money laundering or the financing of terrorist groups.
Anyone with information about money laundering or the financing of terrorist activity is encouraged to contact the Australian Crime Commission or the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00.
Finally, arguments against halal certification labeling often center on the idea that companies produce halal products to be politically correct, or to please a small minority of Muslim customers. That’s not the case. Companies produce halal products because of market forces. The global halal food market is expected to be worth $3.9 trillion by 2019, and companies want to tap into that market.