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August 9th, 2011
08:58 PM ET

Whole Foods denies canceling Ramadan promotion

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) – Whole Foods and a company that produces traditional Muslim foods disputed online reports Tuesday that the grocery chain has bowed to right-wing pressure and canceled its Ramadan promotion.

"Whole Foods Market is not cancelling our current halal promotion, which is centered around the time frame of Ramadan," company spokeswoman Libba Letton told CNN Tuesday.

The controversy centered around "halal-certified products" produced by Saffron Roads.

"It's more of a tempest in a teapot," Saffron Roads CEO Adnan Durrani said Tuesday.

The tempest was fueled by a blog published by Houston Press, which quoted an e-mail sent by a Whole Foods manager to some store workers.

The e-mail said "It is probably best that we don't specifically call out or 'promote' Ramadan," according to the blog. "We should not highlight Ramadan in signage in our stores as that could be considered 'Celebrating or promoting' Ramadan."

The e-mail suggested the Ramadan promotion "has generated some negative feedback from a small segment of vocal and angry consumers and bloggers."

Whole Foods "never sent a communication from our headquarters requesting stores take down signs at all," the company spokeswoman said. "We have 12 different operating regions and one region reacted by sending out directions to promote halal and not specifically Ramadan after some online negative comments."

Durrani blamed the e-mail on "just one outlying, regional person who had no authority to speak."

The blog was "charged with lightning" and quickly went viral on Twitter and Facebook, he said.

"The bloggers like to blog," Durrani said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Food • Ramadan

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.