VEGEMITE has gone halal in a bid by
food giant Kraft to make the national “treasure” available to Muslim
The label on Australia’s most famous spread has changed in recent
months to include halal certification in a move some have described as
“ridiculous” political correctness.
“Islamic communities are proud
Australians and they want to be able to eat our national icon as well,”
Kraft spokesman Simon Talbot said.
“We don’t own Vegemite. The
people of Australia own Vegemite. We’re just the custodians and we want
to make sure Vegemite is available for everyone.”
have congratulated Kraft for introducing the labels, but Family Council
of Victoria secretary Bill Muehlenberg questioned the company’s motives.
is a private company trying to make money,” Mr Muehlenberg said. “I
don’t think they care a rip about offending the tastebuds of Muslims.
“Why do we have to keep bending over backwards to please minority
groups? There are only 300,000 Muslims in Australia out of 22 million
people, which is a very small percentage.
“Of course, there’s a
case for making allowances for different cultures, but aren’t we getting
a bit carried away with political correctness here? It’s ridiculous.”
Muehlenberg feared the halal labelling was also a sign of
“Islamisation” of western countries.
“We’re already seeing sharia
law courts operating in Britain,” he said. “Where does it end?”
the labels were changed in August, Kraft’s head office has received
regular phone calls from people complaining about the halal labelling on
“People have called us with some fairly strong views
about Australian society and culture,” Mr Talbot said. “These are views
that we at Kraft don’t agree with. We don’t engage in racist or bigoted
“But for every call we receive asking about it, there
is a call to say how proud they are to see it’s halal. We are also proud
of our kosher, halal and vegetarian products.”
Vegemite has been
certified kosher for more than a decade. When Kraft decided to scrap
kosher Vegemite production in 2004, the backlash from Jewish consumers
forced the company to do a backflip.
Yasser Soliman, Islamic
Council of Victoria past-president and executive director of Diversity
Connect International, said the halal certification on Vegemite was a
sign Muslims were “becoming more Aussie”.