The Corner

A Storm in a Soup Can?

TPM Muckraker has a rising-tide-of-intolerance type story over on its site. The topic? Soup.

Earlier this year, Campbell Canada introduced a line of halal-certified soups. The 15 soups comply with Islamic dietary regulations which, much like kosher regulations, prohibit certain foods and define the right way to slaughter animals. The line, which includes low fat cream of broccoli and vegetarian vegetable, was certified by the Islamic Society of North America, which has been certifying halal foods since 1988. To some people, that’s just more evidence that Sharia is coming to North America — this time, via the grocery store.

“M-m-good for the Islamists. Not so yummy for the rest of us,” reads the blog of Scaramouche, which broke the news Tuesday, some eight months after Campbell’s launched the line.

Robert Spencer, who writes Jihadwatch.org and has been saying for years that ISNA is tied to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood,* quickly echoed the alarm.

“So why is Campbell’s Soup rushing to do its bidding?” Spencer wrote on Tuesday. “‘M-M-Muslim Brotherhood Good?’”

If the problem here is ISNA (and for some it seems to be), that’s something worth discussing, but Campbell’s should not be attacked on “halal” grounds alone. The company’s decision to offer a line of halal soups is, in principle, shrewd niche marketing and no bad thing (in its own small way it may even help integration along). It ought to be as uncontroversial as, say, selling kosher products or vegan snacks. Incidentally, Campbell’s halal soups are vegetable soups, but generally not described as vegetarian (I suspect the mysterious “fat” that features in the ingredients of most of them is to blame), but the animal rights discussion that revolves round halal food is a separate one.

 If you are looking for a more genuine Halal controversy, cross the Atlantic to Blighty, where there’s been a row over supermarkets and other distributors selling Halal meat without informing their customers:

Britain’s biggest supermarket chains are selling halal lamb and chicken without telling unsuspecting shoppers.Those stocking meat slaughtered according to Islamic law include Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Somerfield and the Co-op. And a Mail on Sunday investigation has found that fast-food chains including Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, KFC, ­Nando’s and Subway are also using halal meat without ­telling customers. But the UK’s second-biggest supermarket, Asda, has refused to confirm or deny whether it sells halal meat. The Mail on Sunday contacted Asda on Tuesday, but by yesterday it had failed to answer any of our questions.

Initially, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco were reluctant to admit they sold halal meat. But later they confessed to selling Islamically slaughtered lamb. Tesco also admitted selling some halal chicken without labelling it as such. Most lamb imported from New Zealand by British supermarkets has been slaughtered according to Muslim law, but this is not mentioned on packaging. Some lamb from British abattoirs is also halal. Last night, Agriculture Minister Jim Paice said: ‘People should know what they’re buying in the shops or when they’re eating out and I will be discussing with the food industry the role labelling can play in giving consumers a choice.’ 

Mr. Paice’s view seems reasonable, but read the whole (slightly overwrought) thing, and decide for yourself.

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