Rajan Zed, the self-styled president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, told Heinz that it should have pointed out its use of gelatine as a clarifying agent to avoid hurting the feelings of Hindus, who view the consumption of beef as sacrilegious.
Heinz surprises with response
The row began after Heinz Australia, which owns the Golden Circle and Original Juice Co. lines of fruit juices, was asked by an Australian Hindu last week to reveal the components of its products.
Golden Circle apple juice labelling prominently displays photographs of fresh apples, and boasts of no added preservatives. The ingredient list makes no mention of beef or alcohol.
“Flavours, including alcohol based flavours, are used across the Golden Circle and Original Juice Co. juice and drink ranges," the company responded in a statement.
"Unfortunately, none of the ambient Golden Circle juice range would be halal suitable as they are made using either non-halal clarifying agents or contain alcohol-based flavours.”
Heinz added that gelatine derived from beef was generally used to remove cloudiness in its apple juice, though a process of filtration would then remove any traces of the gelatine.
However, Zed claims that Heinz Australia should have clearly disclosed this on its labels to alert the Hindus and other consumers.
“Moreover, Heinz Australia should also have clarified the usage of alcohol in the manufacturing of their juice/drinks as many Hindus are teetotallers and parents would not like to give drinks to children where alcohol was used in the production process,” said Zed.
He urged Heinz to overhaul its labelling practices to help Hindu consumers make an informed decision.
“Heinz Australia should walk the talk and follow its own tagline seriously, which claims it ‘takes an active responsibility for its people, customers, community and environment’,” Zed argued.
Heinz claims that its products meet Australian regulatory standards, which do not require processing aids, or components of flavours to be declared on labels.