– We all need better information about how the food is prepared, so that we can choose whether we want to eat there or not. This applies not only to halal food, but also vegan and allergy-friendly food, says Shahzad Ghufoor.
In a lot divided Facebook posts on the group Halalguiden, with over 23,000 members, primus motor Ghufoor says that Burger King can not guarantee cross-contamination. It is also called food contamination, and describes all forms of infection between dishes.
Burger King is one of several fast food chains that prepare all their products on the same grill and in the same frying oil. That is, vegetarian burgers, chicken burgers, fish burgers and beef burgers all fry side by side.
– We who eat halal, kosher or vegan, can not just change our eating habits. Therefore, an adaptation of these needs is needed, says Ghufoor.
Shahzad Ghufoor is behind the app and the Facebook group Halalguiden, which will help Muslims find restaurants that offer halal food. The plan was actually to share experiences from traveling around the country in search of halal food. But the questions about halal in restaurants around the country were many, and he decided to make the app.
– There was a need to organize all the information I had gathered.
Over the past year, Ghufoor has collected information on many nightclubs, and he suggests that the big food chains stand out with a negative sign. It was in this work that he became acquainted with Burger King’s practice.
– In small places, it is easier to contact a waiter and ask about how the food is prepared. In addition, you can often see for yourself how the food is made. It’s not as easy with the big eateries.
We who eat halal, kosher or vegan can not only change our eating habits
— Shahzad Ghufoor, Halalguiden
Asks the Norwegian Food Safety Authority to take action
Ghufoor wants the Norwegian Food Safety Authority to put the problem of cross-contamination of food on the agenda, but has admittedly not contacted them yet.
– This has to do with bureaucracy, so 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 says that their main wish is that a standard be established for what is described as halal in Norway.
– There are slightly different views on this within Islam. The word only means “allowed”. Most people agree that animals should be slaughtered in the halal way, but there is something else with cross-contamination.
He says that not everyone is equally concerned about cross-contamination, and that especially younger Muslims may be less concerned about it.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority: – The food must be labeled fairly
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority did not have the opportunity to answer Vårt Land’s question, but writes the following in an e-mail:
“Shops, restaurants and other businesses that operate with food must follow the regulations that apply to food. This mainly applies to requirements for hygiene and labeling, so that the food must be safe and consumers must receive the correct information about the food. If customers have desires beyond this, such as special types of food or that the food is produced and handled in certain ways, it is a matter between customer and company, whether the company will offer this. “
In a report from 2015, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority states that 12 out of 40 had poor control of halal-labeled food.
– No food should pretend to be something they are not, so it is disappointing that we repeatedly reveal poorly or misleadingly labeled food, said Randi Edvardsen in the Norwegian Food Safety Authority at the time.
In the report, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority writes that they supervise the labeling of food, and that this is about the food being labeled fairly. They write that they have no opinion on the religious aspect, but that as long as the food pretends to be halal, for example, what is inside the package should match what is on the outside of the packaging.
– Gets a feeling of disgust
Steffen Tretvoll Althand, leader of the Norwegian vegan community, says that cross-contamination is something that is much discussed among vegans.
– Some vegans find it uncomfortable to think about eating food that has been prepared on the same grill or pan where animal products have been fried. Personally, I get a feeling of disgust at the thought of it.
Nevertheless, he says that not all vegans are concerned about it, and that some people think more pragmatically about this issue.
– No more animals are killed by cooking vegan food in the same place where animal food is prepared, so here there are differences in how people think.
– Do not want too complicated rules
He supports the proposal to the Halal Guide for better labeling of food and better information about how food is prepared. Nevertheless, he wants to avoid too complicated rules around cross-contamination, for fear that too rigid regulations will lead restaurants to stop offering vegan food.
– I like to say that the best can not be the enemy of good, Tretvoll Althand.
– We are more concerned with the consumption of animal products declining, than with strict guidelines for how food should be prepared.
Shahzad Ghufoor, for his part, is not afraid that restaurants will choose to drop halal food from the menu. He says that halal food has existed for a long time and that there is a great demand for it in Norway.
– In any case, it is better to put pressure on the restaurants, he says.
– Encourages clarity
Steffen Tretvoll Althand believes that vegans can often be more pragmatic on this point than those who eat halal food, as they do not adhere to the same type of rules.
However, he emphasizes that they would like clearer labeling of food, and encourages restaurants such as Burger King to be clearer on whether the food they serve is vegan or not.
– When you order a plant-based burger, for example, you may be unsure whether the dressing contains eggs or whether the cheese is vegan. Vegans often have to read what is written in small print, so these large chains could have been better at clearly marking the food.
Burger King did not have the opportunity to be interviewed by Vårt Land, but Olav Bæverfjord, head of Burger King Norway, writes the following in an e-mail:
“We are concerned that everyone should find something they like with us, and know that more people want halal products on the menu. As of today, none of our products can be classified as vegan or halal. As the operational operation is set up today, we do not have the space or capacity to have separate machines and utensils for preparing halal food ».
Nor can we guarantee cross-contamination from animal ingredients. At Burger King, we work continuously with innovation and development of our concept and we take such input from guests and others further. “