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

soundoff (324 Responses)
  1. Faith

    The Westerners became stupid in attempt to make more money. Why do they have to honor all cultures? The West should have stuck with the good clean Christian religion. Feminized nations get only scorned by immigrants and kids. Perverts have no goals.

    August 11, 2011 at 3:48 am |
    • m4life786

      If you knew how America was first formed and why people came here then you wouldn't post such an idiotic comment.

      Learn about the history of your own country before you talk. Know I know where people around the world think us Americans are so dumb.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • pfeffernusse

      Facts?! Pish posh, m4life786. Faith doesn't need any facts or history! She just makes up what she needs.

      August 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  2. Muneef

    Secular Morals;
    PETALING JAYA: A 20-year-old Malaysian student who was on his way to buy food to break his fast (for Ramadan) was attacked by rioters in Barking East, London.
    Wounded and bleeding on the street, he was later robbed by another gang.
    The robbery on Muhammad Asyraf Raziq Rosli which took place at 7pm London time (3am Malaysian time) yesterday

    August 10, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  3. Nora

    I believe that we were all made from one God. Why does this world still have their differences with other religions and their beliefs. I believe that you should keep your religious beliefs and differences to yourself. You are only hurting yourself when you talk aganist another religion. God, does not like people to judge other religions! You are hurting people and their beliefs and that is hurtful and not nice to another person. Put yourself in their place,how would you feel, if you critize their religion and their beliefs? I know because I am Catholic and I have a Muslim Daughter whom I love and I don't treat her any different because of the fact that she changed her religion. She is the same person , just Muslim! Shame on you out there, I beleive that we still have driscimmation in the year 2011. Wake up their is bad people in all religions! I also belive that their are good people in all religions. Take time and think about this!

    August 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Karen

      Hmm. Bad people in all religions? I learned something very interesting today, confirmed to me by a devote Muslim friend. Mohammed married his well known wife (aka favourite) Ashia when she was six years old and he was in his fifties. He consummated the marriage when she was nine. Yes, that's right – NINE and he was in his fifties. I don't want to spread hate, but that is just not right and this is the foundation of this religion and we're surprised that Muslim women around the world are treated so badly??? When I asked my Muslim friends today how they felt about this, they all said it must be okay, but he did it. I have always tried my best to be tolerant and accepting. I cannot accept this. Who can?

      August 10, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Karen: And Mary was "married" to Joseph when she was 12...
      How many Christians do you think are going to condemn that act of pedophilia? Or the fact that their religion is based on someone's murder? Will you also despise all of them because of that?
      A little perspective is necessary here. I think the greater issue is not what a book like the Qu'ran or the Bible says... but what actions each individual takes. I personally know not a single muslim or christian who advocates se-xual knowledge of children. Or murdering people. Do you?

      August 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  4. Maria

    Thank you Whole Foods for ethnically, substaniable, organic and now Halal foods! God Bless America with all the healthy choices we have!

    August 10, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  5. Moli

    This is absolutely disgusting, I am not a Muslim nor have I ever or had a desire to be. But, why would people protest a market having promotions for the 'holiday' of the time period. I mean while I'm not of any religious affiliation, I'm not offended by Christian or Jewish food sales!!!!! This is America the place in the world you may worship whoever or whatever you chose to.

    August 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  6. Rainer Braendlein

    Don't it halal meat, it is a sin.

    Have a look on the following website and you will never eat halal meat again:


    People, torturing sweet animals, will finally torture human beings. Satan likes halal meat.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Jack Acree

      Saffron Road's Chicken are Certified Humane(R) by Humane Farm Animal Care. What one person may chose to do when the kill an animal has nothing to do with the way we respect our livestock.

      August 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Muneef

      Shooting an Animal to death as in sports it is ok but to slaughter it with out shooting is not ok..?!

      August 11, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Muneef

      Honestly how sick and stupid are those predigests who say nothing against "The Spanish Bull Fight" no matter how the animal suffers but because it is a ritual in Islam to slaughter the animal with out shooting or hummering him on the head then that is not ok and merciless...!!!

      August 11, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Muneef

      Honestly how sick and stupid are those prejudice who say nothing against "The Spanish Bull Fight" no matter how the animal suffers but because it is a ritual in Islam to slaughter the animal with out shooting or hummering him on the head then that is not ok and merciless...!!!

      August 11, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  7. J.W

    I kind of like the blending of Muslim culture into American society. We do not see enough of that. I think this would be a start to having acceptance of one another.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Laughing



      August 10, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      J.W. create your own religion meshing the two. It would be a perfect segway to replace both when they collapse in the next 200 years. Something is going to to replace them when they become myths.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • NOo..oON

      How would that be significantly different than what we already are, a mix of multiple cultures and backgrounds?

      August 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • J.W

      But other religions have not come to the forefront in America. If they did more Christians would learn about other religions and vice versa. Then we will all understand each other and live in peace and harmony.

      August 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  8. Faith

    Muslims need Jesus to be saved. Ramadan gets no one into Heaven. What fasting? Gluttony after the sunset is downright immoral. God accepts only those who trust in the sinless Divine Savior Jesus, never the self-centered fasting. Read Micah. All humans including all Muslims are complete failures. God wants honesty from humans, never a cover-up or false pretentions.

    August 10, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Faith

      Muslims don't worship their prophets. Atheists are ignorant zombies on religions. You know nothing about other peoples' religions and still attack them. Atheists are evil.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • GodPot

      "God accepts only those who trust in the sinless Divine Savior Jesus"

      Can you at least put "My" before statements like that, it would be far more accurate. And while your at it you can go ahead and say what you really think which is "My God is better than your God, my God can kick your God's butt!!" "Nuh uh!" Yuh huh!" Everyone who believes they KNOW who created everything and how to become immortal in some cloudy afterlife is just an egotistical, self centered crybaby.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics


      "God accepts only those who trust in the sinless Divine Savior Jesus"

      Can you at least put "My" before statements like that, it would be far more accurate. And while your at it you can go ahead and say what you really think which is "My God is better than your God, my God can kick your God's butt!!" "Nuh uh!" Yuh huh!" Everyone who believes they KNOW who created everything and how to become immortal in some cloudy afterlife is just an egotistical, self centered crybaby.

      G-Pot, she is jsut a troll and has no meaning in her posts. Poke her for fun like the Romans did back in the day. Quite fun.

      August 10, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • American Lover of Peace

      As a matter of fact, Muslims actually follow Christian and Jewish teachings and prophets (as equally as they treat Mohammed). Faith, you clearly have not read accurate sources on Islam. The truth is,

      Muslims love Jesus too!!! 🙂

      Spread the love.

      And, of course, go Whole Foods! There was never any issue with the promotions on Ramadan, and now the promotions are in full swing! Love thyself as your neighbor - that's a teaching Mohammad, Jesus, (well all the prophets), and any sane human being, religious or otherwise, will tell you. Including the great, tolerant people at Whole Foods.

      August 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • AndyTheGameInventor

      So just to clarify, your statement that Muslims need Jesus is a "fact" based on a thousand-year-old book, which is therefore true, while the statement of other faiths are incorrect, because they are based on their own thousand-year-old books, which are therefore false.

      August 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Faith

      Between the first and second comments by Faith, there was a filthy comment by an atheist, but it's erased now. Good job, CNN. Erase all the blasphemous opinions of atheists then your nation can keep a little peace a little longer. I wonder what atheists would hold onto if there is persecution on atheistic belief. Why don't American atheists go to the Islamic land and try spewing their garbage if they have anything real? Pathetic.

      August 11, 2011 at 3:43 am |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Muslims are equally delusional as christians. Christians worship a magical zombie christ and muslims worship a child r a pp i s tt.

      August 11, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  9. Rainer Braendlein

    Halal meat is produced by ritual slaughter. Ritual slaughter is brutal animal torture and should be prohibited by the state.

    Ritual slaughter:

    The butcher cuts the throat of the animal (cow, sheep, etc..). By vessels within in spine and the remaining muscels of the neck the brain of the animal is still supported with enough blood for a while (anyway the brain and the nervous system is not damaged at all by the cut). That means the animal experiences a horrifying death agony. First when all the blood has left the body, the animal dies.

    Furthermore: Often one cut is not enough. By thromboses the arteries clog and the butcher has to cut again (awful), in order to make sure that the blood can leave the animal's body.

    Furthermore: During the death agony the animal produces stress-hormones, which are a poisonous for human beings.

    Conclusion: Don't eat halal meat. It is a sin to eat it.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Amir


      August 10, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Equality

      Halal slaughter is similiar to kosher slaughter, should we ban kosher meat too? Is it a sin to eat kosher meat too? Bigot

      August 10, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Think

      Well than let's kill animals american way – electroshock.

      August 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Jack Acree

      Again Rainier you are incorrect. Saffron Roads Chickens are Certified Humane (From life to death) by Humane Farm Animal Care. You comments are irrelevant to the way Saffron Road treats its livestock.

      August 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Jack Acree

      Rainer has obviously never seen Food Inc.

      August 10, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  10. Anonymous TM

    Yo. I (may or may not) work at Whole Foods. We have these prdoucts and signs up supporting them. We also give muslim team members first dibs on breaks during ramadan so that they can break the fast just after the sun sets. Don't fall victim to the hype. There's no reason to think any of this is true.

    August 10, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Hijabi Heather

      Thank you : ) I didn't think this furor was representational of the Whole Foods ethic. Glad to read I was right about that.

      August 10, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  11. wf

    I love the whole foods store, don't know what the fuss is about...

    Eat Healthy!
    Be Healthy!

    An apple a day keeps the doc away, if u don't care to stay healthy throw the apple away!!!

    August 10, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  12. Frogist

    In light of yesterday's article regarding religious intolerance growing across the world especially between and towards muslims, and the recent shootings by Anders Behring Breivik, I kind of find this a bit disturbing. It's true that we all have difficulties with change, but I can't understand why anyone would take issue with a supermarket chain having Ramadan specials. They do it with Christmas and Easter all the time. I don't see what the big deal is. And I wonder who are the ones making the complaints. IMO it would be really nice for this country to start embracing different cultures instead of saying that it's a giant melting pot but rejecting any notion that its citizens are a huge variety of people. I applaud Whole Foods, a national chain, for even trying to acknowledge it's varied customers. But I really hope they didn't bow to pressure from closed-minded bigots.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • J.W

      Probably just like 5 nutcases made complaints and it got blown way out of proportion. That is my guess.

      August 10, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Frogist

      @JW: That's probably true. But it does reflect the state of religious tolerance and diversity in this country when a handful of disgruntled bigots can disrupt a very large company's promotion just because they don't like people of a certain religion. It's disturbing because it probably was just "5 nutcases" making complaints, and Whole Foods actually listened and bowed to their demand. It's never a good thing when the crazies get to decide how things work.

      August 10, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  13. Helen Katon

    I don't see Ramadan on Whole Foods's FB page, and according to this artile the company hasn't reversed the no-celebration directive.

    August 10, 2011 at 9:09 am |
  14. bezerkur

    blah blah blah. mumbo jumbo. i dont care what belief a person has, no matter how bizare the rituals are. just keep your customs and rituals amongst yourself and out of way. when your out amongst the masses all you have to do is respect people and be kind. i believe every major philosophy teaches that. major chain stores like Walmart should remain neutral with no bias towards any religion. As far as special need items for specific religious food or whatever, start a small business. Hispanics have been doing it for years. America is at the place where Rome was in the 3rd century. We'll just have to see if history repeatsit self. Or maybe We'll all end up like the fictional Borg race like on StarTrek if thats what you really want. a New World Order. i meanwhile will be in the sticks away from the insanity.

    August 10, 2011 at 8:07 am |
  15. August

    Bloggers know lots of information that they're just afraid of knowing the truth.Try visiting –> CoolCent. com

    August 10, 2011 at 8:07 am |
  16. Red blooded american

    You tools feel right into CNN's trap. Every time.

    August 10, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  17. Larry

    Any store of any kind that promotes Ramadan I personally will boycott. Keep religion of any kind out of grocery stores

    August 10, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • Rinsewind

      It's completely normal to have grocery stores promote foods for certain religious holidays. They advertise Christmas cookies and other Christmas foods, Easter hams and candy, Passover foods which are kosher for passover, Mardi Gras King Cakes, etc. Why not halal food products, especially at Ramadan? It's just normal marketing to customers. Halal meat is prepared much like kosher meat–I'm Christian but I don't have any problems eating it. Not sure why people are fussing about this.

      August 10, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • Nonimus

      I disagree. I have no problem with stores celebrating religious holidays and would rather see them celebrate all of them Ramadan, Christmas, Passover, Holi, etc.

      As long as it all stays out of our government. Celebrate all you want, just don't pass any laws about it.

      August 10, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • z

      Larry, do you boycott grocery stores that put up Christmas and Hanukkah decorations too?

      August 10, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  18. PlayNice

    Hesalive, I wish you were right, then I would be done with idiots like you forever.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  19. Hesalive

    Jesus Christ is Lord. The Resurrection proves it. Why we know He's alive and others don't is a mystery, but we definitely know. God will judge the human race for sin, and repopulate a new heaven and new earth with those of us who love His son.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • Human

      What resurrection? The one the church made up? It's a mystery but we definitely know.....HUH? And by the way, sin is a man made concept. Have a great day.

      August 10, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • a42natson

      Dream on...

      August 10, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Nonimus

      "Why we know He's alive and others don't is a mystery..."

      No one has seen nor heard from him in ~2000 years, if ever, why is that a mystery?

      August 10, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Acroyear

      The only mystery is why any rational being worships the god in the Bible? He is vengeful, cruel, capricious, bigoted, narrow minded and utterly sadistic. How can you possible love such a thing?! Fear it...that I get... try to appease it or try to avoid it... that I get. But to actually claim you love such a thing is a sick and as in need of help as the beaten spouse who just can't bring herself to put her abusive husband in jail.

      August 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  20. Acroyear

    "halal-certified products" are cruelty... period. If a slaughter house, without the protection of 'religion' were to butcher animals in such a manor they would be fined and closed. If it's cruel and inhumane, saying that your imaginary friend in the sky said it's okay does NOT make it okay.

    August 10, 2011 at 7:37 am |
    • AM

      Seriously man? Utter ignorance all around. This is so not the America that the world used to see us as. What a nose dive. So FYI, halal is the same as Kosher. Essentially, it is s a way of slaughtering an animal by letting all its blood drain out vs. the assembly line methods of chopping off there heads or mass electrocution. The idea behind it is human health. Blood generates bacteria much quicker in an animal if not properly refrigerated, hence causing illnesses – and yes, it happens often.

      August 10, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • z

      @Acroyear, what is cruel about it? What do you know about halal food and kosher food? Please enlighten us regarding those methods versus the traditional methods of slaughtering animals.

      August 10, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • NOo..oON

      Just a thought, but if you knew you were going to die, would you rather be cut and bleed out or shot in the head?

      August 10, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Frogist

      @Acroyear: There was an article a few months back about European countries that banned kosher and halal slaughter because it was deemed more cruel than the recommended alternative of stunning then slaughtering. I read the report they used to reach their conclusions and it does seem that halal and kosher slaughter where the animal remains conscious during the slaughter even after the throat is cut is a bit more cruel than stunning which renders the animal unconscious and unable to feel pain or maybe even fear. Of course we have a whole lot of cruelty in our food industry that needs to be addressed, so I don't really know exactly whether it is more or less cruel than current practices in the US.

      August 10, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Acroyear

      To All: I also disagree with Kosher methods, especially the THEOLOGICAL reasons behind it. However I find that most of the Jewish folks I know will find their own specialized butcher shops, rather than expect every animal to hit their plate is acceptable to their religion.

      There is a local meat plant near my home that I now refuse to by meat from because they do Kosher and Halal slaughtering and there is no way to know if the meat I am receiving is from that process. I now do my best to find cruelty free products... not for any "left wing" reasons but for ethical ones.

      If I can't be sure the animal was put down as humanely as possible, I don't buy the meat. And yes, BEFORE we had refrigeration it was better to let the animal bleed out...but we DO have it now, so there is no need for the poor animal to die in pain. A quick bolt gun to the head and it's over...and of those two methods I sure as heck would prefer a bullet in my head to have my throat cut to my freaking spine!

      I like meat, I have no problem with anyone eating meat, but to kill an animal in more fear than is required, and to see it die in AGONY for the sake of some imaginary sky god is something I want NO part of.

      And before people pounce on "what if he's real?" Then he's a sick and cruel being and I refuse to worship that!

      August 10, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • Jack Acree

      @NOo..oON, The beauty if it is that when done correctly, by people who care Halal and Kosher animals don't see the animals being killed in from of them. This is why Saffron Road's chicken's are Certified Humane(R) by Humane Farm Animal Care.

      August 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
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About this blog

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.