CAIRO - Wading into a new halal food row, the Danish Prime Minister said that Danes should be accommodating to all faiths and cultures on the food labeling, but shouldn't give up their own values and traditions of keeping pork in hospitals and kindergartens.
I think it is natural that consumers want to know if they are eating halal meat or not, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt told DR Nyheder, The Copenhagen Post reported.
I urge all companies to clearly indicate it on their packaging.
Thorning-Schmidt encouraged butchers and slaughterhouses to label whether or not meat had been slaughtered under halal practices.
Yet, she said that the government would not require them to do so.
The PM comments followed an earlier row on halal food labeling stirred last week after recently deposed food minister Mette Gjerskov (S) said that she was against the idea of halal-labeling.
The idea was also met with skepticism by agricultural lobby group Landbrug og FÃ¸devarer.
"I have the impression that halal' has a negative connotation for some, Landbrug og FÃ¸devarer spokesperson Martin Merrild told Jyllands-Posten.
Consumers do not understand it and if by labelling our meat we make it less competitive, we are just shooting ourselves in the foot.
The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Confirming Muslims' right to get halal-labeled products, the Danish premier has opposed the suggestion to remove all pork products from kindergartens.
We need to remember in our zeal to welcome new citizens not to lose sight of our own culture, PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt told DR Nyheder, The Copenhagen Post reported.
Thorning-Schmidt added that kindergartens and hospitals must continue to serve pork roasts and meatballs because they are part of Danish culinary tradition.
I deeply oppose the idea and I always have, she said.
We have to stick with the way we eat and what we do in Denmark. There should be room for frikadeller [meatballs].
The PM said that the Danish Christmas traditions of singing hymns and eating roast pork should be able to exist side by side with the customs of other religions.
Denmark is home to a Muslim minority of 200,000, making three percent of the country's 5.4 million population.
The Scandinavian country was the focus of Muslim anger in 2005 after a newspaper published cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
Following the cartoons crisis, Muslims worldwide took many initiatives to remove widely circulated stereotypes about Islam in the West.
Danish Muslims established the European Committee for Honoring the Prophet, a grouping of 27 Danish Muslim organizations, to raise awareness about the merits and characteristics of the Prophet.