Norwegian Muslims, Vegans Team Up in Protesting All Burgers Being Fried on the Same Grill
Lashing out against the so-called cross-contamination that occurs when eateries prepare their meals, Norwegian Muslims have found unexpected partners in vegans, who also oppose the same routines for various kinds of foods.
The Halal Guide, a popular Facebook group with tens of thousands of members, has called for better routines for how halal and vegan food is prepared.
In a recent much-shared post, the group revealed that a number of fast food chains, including Burger King, make all their products on the same grill and in the same frying oil. That is to say, vegetarian burgers, chicken burgers, fish burgers and beef burgers all fry side by side.
“We all need better information about how the food is prepared, so that we can choo,se whether we want to eat there or not. This applies not only to halal food, but also vegan and allergy-friendly food,” one of the group's leaders, Shahzad Ghufoor, told the newspaper Vårt Land, cautioning about so-called cross-contamination.
“We who eat halal, kosher or vegan, can not just change our eating habits. Therefore, an adaptation of these needs is needed,” Ghufoor added, emphasising a great demand for halal food in Norway.
Admittedly, Ghufoor, the author of the Halal Guide app, wants the Norwegian Food Safety Authority to address the problem of cross-contamination of food.
“For bureaucratic reasons, it is important to be precise in what we want the Norwegian Food Safety Authority to do. This is a long-term wish, but which we hope to be able to achieve this autumn,” he explained.
According to Ghufoor, their main wish is to establish a standard for what is described as halal in Norway.
“There are slightly different views on this within Islam. The word itself only means 'allowed'. Most people agree that animals should be slaughtered in the halal way, but there is something else with cross-contamination”, he said.
Steffen Tretvoll Althand, the leader of the Norwegian vegan community, said that cross-contamination is a hot-button issue among vegans, many of whom find it highly uncomfortable. He therefore supported the Halal Guide's proposal for better labelling and information.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority said that its main role is to ensure proper hygiene and labelling so that the food is safe and the customers receive correct information about it, emphasising that it has no opinion of the religious aspect. Should customers have desires beyond this, including that the food is produced and handled in certain ways, it is a matter between customer and company.
However, in a 2015 report, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority found that 12 out of 40 companies had poor control of halal-labelled food.
“No food should pretend to be something it is not, so it is disappointing that we repeatedly reveal poorly or misleadingly labelled food,” its spokesman said at that time.
Burger King said it “doesn't have room” for separate machines and is open about the fact that they cannot guarantee food contamination.
In 2020, the share of vegetarians in Norway was estimated at 8 percent, double what it had been in 2019.