Toblerone's halal certification outrages the far right

Members of Europe's far right have called for a mass boycott of Toblerone, after discovering that the popula...

Posted: Dec. 19, 2018 2:58 PM
Updated: Dec. 19, 2018 2:58 PM

Members of Europe's far right have called for a mass boycott of Toblerone, after discovering that the popular triangular chocolate bar is halal-certified.

Halal is an Arabic word that denotes that a food or service is permissible according to Islamic law. It excludes foods containing pork or alcohol, and requires that animals are slaughtered by a Muslim by a cut to the throat, without being stunned.

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Toblerone has not changed its recipe, but some online commentators have taken badly the news that its factory in Bern, Switzerland, achieved a halal certification in April -- with the federal spokesman of Germany's nationalist AfD party claiming it showed the "Islamization" of Europe.

"Islamization does not take place -- neither in Germany nor in Europe," the AfD's Jörg Meuthen wrote sarcastically on social media. "It is therefore certainly pure coincidence that the depicted, known chocolate variety is now certified as 'HALAL.'"

The post prompted some of his followers to react with similar outrage, with several people throughout Europe tweeting that they would not be purchasing the product in the future.

"I will never, EVER buy another toblerone!!! #BOYCOTTTOBLERONE," one Twitter user wrote. "Too bad, I like to eat. But I don't like Muslim food," another said on Facebook, while a third announced: "Toblerone is now on my list!"

But others ridiculed the outrage, pointing out that most mass-produced foods are already halal-friendly and that Toblerone has always met the criteria anyway.

"Anyone who has the power and time to get upset about such nonsense must not be surprised by the (ridicule)," one said.

Mondelēz, which produces Toblerone, confirmed that the factory in Bern that produces the chocolate achieved a halal certification eight months ago but said that the production process was not altered.

"The certification did not result in any change to our beloved traditional Toblerone original recipe," Mondelēz said in a statement emailed to CNN. "Due to the inherent nature of Toblerone chocolate its production process essentially meets the halal criteria anyway."

"Most multinational companies have products which are halal-certified," Umar al-Qadri of the nonprofit Department of Halal Certification, told CNN. "Companies want to generate more income and there are two billion Muslims in the world that only eat halal."

"Nothing has changed," he added, noting that companies simply need to pass an inspection to ensure that their factories are halal-certified.

He encouraged those angered by Toblerone's move to "do their research and find out about what halal is," saying of the reaction: "It's an expression of Islamophobia and nothing else."

"They assume halal is negative when actually, it's something very positive -- a higher standard of food safety."

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