WENDY KNOWLER | 02 December, 2016 14:45
“Should the citizens of South Africa not have the right to freely buy groceries without knowingly supporting Islam?”
The question was posed in a hand-written letter, posted to Times Media in an envelope bearing a Pretoria post mark.
“Whose hidden agenda, falsely labelled ‘tolerance’, is forcing South Africans to sponsor Islam?”
“Is it not true that you pay a Muslim person a fee for certifying products Halaal? It follows that prices of the products will increase to offset this fee.”
“Are you not thereby forcing people who buy your products to financially support Islam?”
The writer claimed it was difficult to find even basic groceries in SA “without a Halaal sign” and then listed a host of companies which produce products bearing Halaal certification.
I ran the letter past a few of them and it turns out Anonymous is way off the mark.
“Nestle South Africa absorbs the costs for certification of all products for all religious groups,” a company spokesman said.
“South Africa is a very diverse country and we respect the diverse religious beliefs of all its consumers.
“It is for this reason that we certify our products and clear information on our product packs enables consumers to make informed choices when purchasing our products.”
Corporates do not pay “a Muslim person” to certify their products Halaal; they pay various certifying bodies.
“All major retailers use the services of four certifying bodies: SANHA, ICSA, NIHT and the MJC,” said David North, of Pick n Pay’s corporate affairs and group strategy.
“Certification costs are negligible and there is no charge passed on to our customers.
“Customers who do not wish to buy food that has been certified for religious purposes can find alternatives in our stores.”
The manufacturing industry does pay Halaal certification bodies a small fee, said a Shoprite spokesman, but the cost was “negligible" compared to the financial impact that establishing parallel production facilities to produce non-Halaal products would have on the cost of basic consumer goods.
Parmalat SA’s marketing manager Matt Richards said while there were costs associated with the certifying of its products as Halaal by various bodies, “they are negligible and not factored into the product cost.”
True to form, the country’s consumer rights champion, Ms Wendy Knowler has debunked unfounded and unsubstantiated false allegations by extremists on Halaal certification.
SANHA is a registered non-profit organisation and its audited Financial Statements are presented annually at open public meetings and disseminated in the media.
Its core activity is Halaal and in terms of its charter no funds can be utilised for any other purpose except for enhancing and developing its monitoring and certification systems.
And yes, as Ms Knowler has demonstrated, Halaal certified products do not cost any more than other generic ones.
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