Sausages labelled "chicken grill" have caused a stir among Norwegian Muslims, the Nationen trade newspaper reports, as their ingredients and contents list oddly says they are 64 per cent turkey, but more worryingly also features a spice called “pork salt”. As the consumption of pork is strictly forbidden in Islam, the revelation unsurprisingly left many Muslims in the country concerned.
Both consumers and food industry professionals were outraged by the incident.
“Really? If so, we should sue. The manufacturer cannot possibly be certified by the Islamic Council”, an angry Muslim wrote, as quoted by Nationen.
“Pork salt is not a thing! There is pork in the sausages. And this is a way to escape litigation”, another ventured.
“Calling a turkey product 'chicken grill' is so stupid that it must be a mistake. If not, it's an obvious case of misleading labelling”, Gunstein Instefjord of the Consumer Council argued.
According to Instefjord, the large print must always match the small print. By his own admission, he has never heard of “pork salt” said and it's strange to use it in a halal product.
The manufacturer, Åkerberg Skoglunn Pølsemakeri, immediately launched a “damage control” mission, and general manager Roger Lund said the blunder was down to human error.
In a written report, the sausage-maker explained that the spice mix had been wrongly attributed. The spice comes from a German factory and was originally labelled “flavouring roast pork type” (sic). According to the company, it has also received oral confirmation that the seasoning doesn't originate from pig meat.
“It goes without saying that you don't put pork meat into a halal product. Pork is much more expensive than chicken”, Lund assured.
According to him, the erroneous turkey label was placed for the same reason as the misleading spice name. The sausages include only locally produced chicken meat, he assured.
“The quality manager wasn't present, and others tried to save the situation for the waiting customers. Wrong text ended up transferred from the program”, Lund explained.
According to Lund, the incorrectly marked goods will now be withdrawn from all stores. He also pledged to tighten the checking routine for new and changed products.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority said that the halal marking falls outside of their regulations, but nevertheless stressed that it expected honesty from food manufacturers. However, it corroborated that the divisive “pork salt” was a natural seasoning made of vegetables.
Halal is an Arabic word which means “allowed”, the opposite of Haram. Both are widely used for food and drink, distinguishing between what Muslims are permitted and not permitted to consume. Pork is strictly prohibited in all interpretations of Islam.
Specific rules also apply to animal slaughter. The animal must be turned to Mecca, its throat must be cut, and the carcass drained of blood. In Norway, ritual slaughter without anaesthesia or stunning is prohibited.
Halal certification in Norway is handled by the Islamic Council, which generates millions of kronor in revenue.