AN ONLINE assault on Gympie family-run business of 58 years, Nolan Meats, has accused the meat processor of charging all consumers for the cost of supplying halal certified products.
The attack has disappointed Nolan Meats director Terry Nolan, and threatens to sully the business's reputation, potentially impacting Gympie jobs should boycott threats gain traction.
The halal certification storm erupted in February when Facebook activist page Restore Australia, headed by CEO Michael Holt, took a swipe at the Gympie export meat processing company.
The Buderim father of two telephoned Nolans asking to speak with Mr Nolan.
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Mr Nolan was unable to take the call as he was hosting an onsite export seminar, but said he would phone Mr Holt back the following morning.
The Nolan Meats director did telephone Mr Holt back as promised, but Mr Holt had already taken to Facebook to unleash a war of words on the Gympie business.
Mr Nolan attempted to address Mr Holt's concerns over the phone but said the conversation was counter-productive.
"He would not listen to reason," Mr Nolan said.
The phone call is one of a number Nolan Meats has received on the halal certification issue and yesterday, Mr Nolan repeated the sentiments of a letter he wrote Mr Holt seeking to address the "misinformation".
"There's a simple message," Mr Nolan said.
"If people choose to buy halal products, then they pay extra for the halal certification.
"If people choose not to buy halal products, then they don't pay for the certification.
"It really is as simple as that."
Halal refers to meat prepared as prescribed by Muslim law and in his letter to Mr Holt, Mr Nolan said he regretted that the Restore Australia CEO did not appear to accept the explanation given over the phone.
"I have honoured your request to put in writing what we spoke about but I can't believe that you are targeting an Australian family owned business...," Mr Nolan said.
The Nolan Meats director took offence at Mr Holt's comments that he would start a boycott of Nolan Meats products and the threat that though impacts would not be felt at first, word would spread.
"Quite offensive and based on a false premise," Mr Nolan said.
"As I told you, I can put my hand on my heart and tell you that no non-Muslim Australian consumer has paid for any of our certification fees.
"Our business is founded on this principle of free choice."
It was a sentiment Mr Nolan repeated yesterday.
"We operate our business on the old saying that you give the customer what they want and charge them accordingly," he said.
"(Mr Holt) is hopelessly uninformed."
Meanwhile, halal is not the only certification sought where costs are passed on to the target market.
"If we want to serve organic markets, and we do, we pay for the cost of their audit to be certified as an organic supplier and pass those costs on only to the organic market," Mr Nolan said.
"The same goes for all customers that request a special certification to allow access to the market."
While Restore Australia continues to push its anti-halal message in regards to Nolan Meats, fellow online activist page, Australians Against Islamophobia, re-posted Mr Nolan's letter to Mr Holt in a show of support for the Gympie family business.
Mr Nolan said his final word on the issue was a simple one: that his business believed in "freedom of choice".
"We don't charge the people any extra for halal certified products if they don't ask for them," he said.
"If they do ask for halal products, we make sure we charge enough to recoup the cost of the halal certification process."
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