SA yoghurt company drops Halal certification

Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company has decided to drop its Halal certification due to an aggressive anti-Halal social media campaign.

The South Australian company received a spate of calls, emails and social media posts from people suggesting that the fee that company paid to certify its products as halal were used to fund terrorism, ABC News reports.

Nick Hutchinson, sales and marketing manager of the company told ABC News that the decision to remove the certification meant that it would also have to end its $50,000 yoghurt supply deal with Middle-Eastern airline, Emirates.

"The publicity we were getting was quite negative and something we probably didn't need and we decided we would pull the pin and stop supplying Emirates Airlines," Hutchison told ABC News.

"Ninety per cent of it has been social media, but I have received calls from people that are quite unhappy, I guess, about our decisions and so forth, and [we have also received] a lot of emails."

The company which has been in operation since 2006, has been supplying Emirates for the past two years. A condition of securing the Emirates contract was that the Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company paid a $1,000 fee to become Halal certified.

"We thought this was a great coup for the company, it would bring great publicity, great advertising and we decided to go ahead with it," said Hutchinson.

"It's been quite successful for the company, but unfortunately over the last few days, a lot of negative publicity has come in about this Halal certification and where this money, where we are paying fees is being spent."

Hutchinson said that a significant proportion of the complaints came from interstate and overseas, however the company made the executive decision to pull the certification to avoid negative publicity locally.

Hutchinson admits that the move will impact on the company financially, however he remained hopeful that Fleurieu could save its supply contract with Emirates as yoghurt does not have to be Halal certified by law unless it contains gelatine.

"What we are going to try and do is get our products tested, get some certificates that prove that our products don't contain gelatine and try to continue to supply Emirates, if they'll give us permission without the certification, but I mean that is unlikely,” he said.

Hutchinson said that since the company announced that it would be dropping its Halal certification, it had received feedback from customers expressing their disappointment that the company had bowed to the anti-Halal campaign.

In addition to the Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company, another Australian manufacturer, The Byron Bay Cookie Company faced a spate of criticism via social media in October this year for having their Anzac biscuits certified as Halal.

Byron Bay Cookie Company is seeking legal advice and told SmartCompany it had been dealing with a “small but well-orchestrated anti-halal campaign” for the past six to eight months.



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