Hanson’s war on Halal leaves bitter aftertaste for Kosher consumers: Jalna decision to lose Jews
UPDATE 22/07/2016: Since publishing this article Jalna has announced it will be continuing for now Kosher certification of its products. Jalna said it was listening to its customers and that Jalna will make a final decision on all religious certifications of its products after the Australian Federal Parliament responds to the recommendations made by the Senate enquiry into third party certification. See our earlier article below.
One of Australia’s leading yoghurt manufacturers Jalna is experiencing a huge backlash from Jewish customers after deciding to withdraw Kosher certification of its yoghurts and other dairy products.
A Facebook post issued yesterday by Kosher Australia (Australia’s main certification body for Kosher foods) informed Kosher consumers that the Jalna brand has decided to let its Kosher certification lapse after three decades of being Kosher-certified in Australia.
The business was founded in 1959 by a Polish-Jewish migrant named Simon Goldman who sold the business in 1978 to the McLaren family for $350, 000. The Jalna brand was closely associated with the Jewish community who were its major customers for cottage cheese, sour cream and one variety of yoghurt at the time.
The McLaren family has developed the Jalna brand into a huge enterprise with a substantial percentage of the growing yoghurt market. The company has created a diverse product range over recent years and continues to grow rapidly. It also operates a plastics factory to create the tubs in which its yoghurt is sold.
Kosher Australia said that as Jalna is no longer engaging in its certification process, Kosher Australia can no longer recommend Jalna products as suitable for those who eat Kosher foods or maintain a Kosher household.
Reaction to “other third-party religious certification”
Kosher Australia and numerous Kosher consumers who have contacted Australian Food News after making contact with Jalna have claimed that the decision by Jalna is a response by the company to a negative campaign against Jalna for having third party religious certification for its products.
There is an ongoing strong campaign being being waged against Australian food companies selling products that have been certified as Halal (foods that are suitable for consumption by observant Muslims).
One of the advocates for this campaign is the politician Pauline Hanson, who was elected as a senator in the Australian Senate in the 2 July 2016 federal election. She is an active campaigner against Halal food certification and other Muslim religious practices.
There is no connection at all between the rules for being Kosher and the rules for being Halal. They are two separate religions with different criteria for certification, just as Organic food certification has other criteria for Organic certification. Nonetheless the racist or anti-Muslim political campaign directed against Halal certification appears to have had a success. The fact that a well-known company such as Jalna has withdrawn from all religious certifications is evidence that food businesses are feeling trapped by the campaigners.
Jewish consumers express dismay and shock
Customers of Jalna have expressed their dismay and shock in private correspondence with Jalna as well as in comments on the Facebook page of the company. The company has responded to some of the comments by saying that its sourcing of ingredients, recipes and manufacturing remains the same but that it has decided “not to maintain any type of official (religious)!certification of our products”.
In some of the Facebook posts, consumers have accused Jalna of caving in to the pressure of the campaign against Halal certified foods. Others, who are supportive of the Jalna decision, have left comments to say that they would be buying Jalna again “now that the foods no longer had religious certifications”.
Senate enquiry 2015 report findings on Halal certification
An enquiry by the Australian Senate into third party certification of foods published its report in December 2015. The report said the enquiry found no connection between Halal certification and the funding of terrorism.
The report made some criticisms and a number of recommendations for improving the standards of some certifications and for the improvement of the manner of labelling of third-party certifications. The report also included a recommendation that the Department of Agriculture consider monitoring the Halal certification of meat for export and that the government promotes a greater acceptance of a ‘whole-of-country’, government-led Halal certification system.
Jalna declined to comment when contacted by Australian Food News in regards to this story.