Australia: Senate to investigate halal certification

australian-flag-mapThe Australian government is slated to conduct an inquiry into the certification of halal, kosher and genetically modified food after a motion was moved by a senator who described the process as a “racket”.

By Eloise Keating –

The Federal Parliament’s Economics Reference Committee will undertake a six-month inquiry into food certification schemes, including halal certification, after the Senate supported a motion by South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi on Wednesday afternoon.

Bernardi has been a fierce critic of practices associated with halal certification of feed products in Australia and told the Guardian yesterday, I “keep getting told any number of things about certification schemes and I don’t know what’s true and what’s not true, so I want to establish the facts”.

Australian brands, including Byron Bay Cookies, Pauls Iced Coffee and even Vegemite, have been the subject of online attacks during the past year by consumers who oppose halal certification.

In November 2014, South Australian dairy manufacturer The Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company decided to drop its halal certification in the face of online criticism, while Australian winemaker Jacob’s Creek was forced to defend its products from social media attacks in April, despite products containing alcohol being unable to receive halal certification.

Bernardi’s inquiry motion was supported by 34 senators, including his Coalition colleagues, as well as six crossbenchers: Bob Day, Jacqui Lambie, Glenn Lazarus, David Leyonhjelm, John Madigan and Ricky Muir. The motion was opposed by 30 senators from the Labor and Greens parties.