By now you have all probably seen the latest: Muslims in Britain are outraged that some potato chips contain trace amounts of alcohol that was not listed on the packaging.
Senior Muslim figures have said that they are shocked that a number of Walkers snacks contain traces of alcohol and eating them is therefore against their religion.
A tiny amount of alcohol is used in some products as a chemical agent to extract flavour.
The use of alcohol was discovered by Besharat Rehman, who owns a halal supermarket in Bradford, and reported in the Eastern Eye. Mr Rehman said: “Our suppliers were unaware of the alcohol. Walkers must make it clear on the packaging so customers can make an informed choice.”
Shuja Shafi, who chairs the food standards committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that he intended to investigate. “Certainly we would find it very offensive to have eaten food with alcohol.” […]
However, a Walkers consumer care team representative was unapologetic. She said: “There is not enough room on the packaging to list things beyond allergy-causing ingredients that can make people ill. A minimal amount of alcohol is used to extract the flavour of some crisps.”
Snacks that are likely to be boycotted by Muslims are Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli, Doritos Chilli Heat Wave and Quavers Cheese.
I haven’t put this up sooner because — unless Potato Chip Riots break out — this particular outrage is not unreasonable. I don’t think it’s an example of the cultural mau-mauing we see with increasing frequency from Muslims in Britain and the U.S., but since it is getting attention everywhere, I thought I should comment on it here. Anyone who fasts or abstains from certain foods, or avoids them for any reason, Muslim or non-Muslim, ought to be able to know what he’s eating. The Muslims in this case have a legitimate grievance. What they will do in response may not be legitimate, but that doesn’t change the fact that the potato chip manufacturer simply should do what it takes to list all the ingredients.