We learned all this form an item in the little viewed TV magazine 'Uitgesproken'. The broadcast in question can be found here (NL). The pertinent section starts at 11:30.
The gist of it: Friesland Campina, arguably the largest supplier of supermarket cheese, produces halal cheese. In fact all but one of the brands of cheese is halal.
To produce cheese, milk has to be coagulated. This can only be done by using rennet, which is extracted from the stomach of butchered calves. In the case of halal cheese (at this point you may already have guessed) the rennet comes from halal butchered calves.
Dutch halal cheese has been with us for over a year now. In an internal email from January 2008, quoted here, Friesland Campina says:
The biggest change is that we will start to use halal calve obamasum rennet (rennet from ritually butchered calves). From December 1st onwards all cheese factories should have made the transition to halal rennet. (...)The reason for this is as depressingly mundane as it is shocking:
The goal is that all cheese whey will be halal certified by February 1st, 2009.
The demand for halal lactose for halal child food is far greater then the supply. The profit from halal lactose suitable for children's food is € 0,25 per kilo higher then lactose for regular food applications. Lactose is made from cheese whey from, amongst others, the Campina cheese factories. That is why we want to have our cheese whey certified.You may wonder why the fact that this ambition to become 'halal certified', or that all cheese from Friesland Campina factories is now halal, was never communicated.Or why Friesland Campina refused an interview on camera for the Uitgesproken item. Evidently Friesland Campina is quite reticent, embarrassed even, about letting us know in what manner their cheese has been produced. The reason is not hard to fathom. Halal is part of shariah law and as Afshin Ellian notes in the item: If a label "Conform Shariah" were to be put on a product it would instantly stop selling.
In the same vain we learned that Nutrilon baby food is 100% halal (NL), or that Hollands largest supermarket chain, Albert Heijn, cannot guarantee its meat products are not halal. We learn this from De Dagelijkse Standaard (NL), who published en exchange of emails between ALbert Heijn and an inquisitive consumer. When asked directly by the attentive consumer, Albert Heijn customer service answered:
We feel that if it is desirable that meat streams are to be fully separated, it is the government that has the task of demanding proof of stunned butchering. At the moment only halal butchered meat can be proven. The reversed burden of proof, proof of non-halal butchered meat, is not possible, because [normal butchering] is common practice.This seems reassuring, but note the bait and switch here: In trying to assure the inquisitive customer that his daily bit of flesh is not halal, Albert Heijn say the animals in question were stunned before butchering. Which is emphatically not the same. Halal butchering does not mean unstunned butchering. The website Path of Islam is clear about the subject (emphasis is mine - KV): Meat from stunned animals is Halal.
However, Albert Heijn can give the guarantee that our meat and out meat products are from animals that have been butchered while stunned.
The most important of these when it comes to meat being Halal is that the animal is slaughtered in a set prescribed manner, which includes pronouncing the name of God while cutting the neck of the animal. (...)In short: The main issue with halal butchering is not whether an animal was stunned or not before having its throat slit. Rather, the main issue seems to be invoking the name of Allah when the throat is slit, while the animals head is pointing towards Mecca. As Abdullah Ali-Salah, boss of the organisation Halal Correct, that provides halal certificates, explains in the Uitgesproken item, it is a short prayer: "Bismallah, Allahu Akbar" (In the name of Allah, Allah is greatest).
Stunning is used to lessen the pain the animal feels when it is later slaughtered. Stunning is not killing and, if performed with a correct method, should not lead to death. The Ulema say that as long as the animal is not killed by the stunning, then the meat of a stunned animal is Halal.
This raises the suspicion that Albert Heijn is trying to be cute with the facts. By trying to make 'halal' synonymous to butchering without stunning, they are trying to gloss over the fact that halal products are blessed in the name of Allah. Or that virtually all butcheries in Holland, according to the Uitgesproken item, employ imams from such enlightened places as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya or Egypt, to bless this, our daily bread, in the name of a deity that isn't ours.
Now we have a problem: I don't want my food to be blessed by anyone, in the name of anyone. Moreover, since I am Christian I find it incredibly offensive that the entire Dutch (and seemingly European) food industry is trying to have me unwittingly consume food that has been blessed in the name of a putrid deity that is the very antithesis of my Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit.
But there's this other aspect to this scandal, noted by Prof. Dr. Ellian. That aspect should speak to not just Christians or members of other faiths, but to all those that are committed to freedom, democracy and our own civilization: Halal butchering is part of the sharia, islamic law. By not labelling halal food, by withholding that information, the food industry is deceiving us us non-muslims into respecting muslim law, living according to muslim standards.
In fact the entire food industry is submitting us to sharia law, without even having the decency to tell us about it. And if you think I am exaggerating, I refer you to the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Halal food movement has the strength to lead Muslims to rule the global economy as the food is the basic need of every human beingAll of a sudden we are back on very familiar territory, aren't we? Muslims trying to conquer the world, by waging economic jihad in this matter, in the name of the perversion they have for a god. And those we entrust with an important aspect of our daily lives, betraying us for a few measly bucks. I don't think 'betrayal' is too strong a word in this matter. However else can call it when the industry is turning all of our food into halal food, but tries to hide this from their customers? Was this supposed to be an in-joke, a bitter prank at our expense, by Friesland Campina (or Albert Heijn) and the Ummah in Holland?
We probably won't be worse off for eating it. But the food we're served is tainted nonetheless. Behold the state of our food industry these days: Rather then providing us with the best quality of our daily bread, they are spitting in it. Proper, mandatory labelling of food stuffs can't come soon enough.