U is for what?

X in a circle is the Greek letter theta.

The Daughter knows that an R or a TM in a circle on a package means that somehow the design of the packaging has some intellectual property protection. Specifically, they mean trademarked or registered, respectively; in the United States, that’s handled by the US Patents and Trademark Office. And a C in a circle suggests copyright protection; in the US that’s a function of the Copyright Office.

But she asked me: what does that U in a circle mean on her bottle of ketchup, something I barely remembered even seeing? I did not know, but, of course, I looked it up.

Now, if I tell you right away, then the post will be done. So here are some other letters in a circle:

A in a circle is the symbol of anarchism.
i in a circle means information.
X in a circle is the Greek letter theta.

A couple more intellectual property symbols:
M in a circle is copyright on mask work, which has SOMETHING to do with integrated circuit boards.
P in a circle represents the copyright on a sound recording (originally a phonograph record).

OK, now. According to the Heinz people: “Commonly known as ‘Circle U,’ the circle graphically represents the letter O for ‘Orthodox,’ and the U inside stands for ‘Union.'” Specifically, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU) in Manhattan, New York City has certified the product to be kosher, i.e., acceptable, according to Jewish dietary laws. If you see any of the symbols that are represented, which also includes a K in a circle, it means “the food has been inspected by one of the many kosher certifying agencies in the United States. Each agency identifies itself by its own unique symbol.”
The New York Times makes a nonkosher mistake

ABC Wednesday – Round 12

H is for Halal and Haram

So is kosher halal, or vice versa?

I was watching ABC News (US) last month, and there was a piece about Air National Guard members from Illinois putting pallets of meals onto a C-130H at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The Meals Ready to Eat would be delivered to Pakistan as part of a relief mission after the devastating floods. What I noticed is that every single box I saw was labeled, in a very large font, HALAL.

So what IS halal? The best site I’ve come across is from IFANCA, the Islamic Food and Nutritional Council of America, which defines it: “Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited.

Halal and haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life.” So the terms are not in reference to food, though this discussion will be. “While many things are clearly halal or haram, there are some things which are not clear. Further information is needed… Such items are often referred to as mashbooh, which means doubtful or questionable.
All foods are considered halal except the following (which are haram):
Swine/Pork and its by-products
Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
Carnivorous animals, birds of prey, and certain other animals
Foods contaminated with any of the above products
Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, and flavors are questionable (mashbooh), because the origin of these ingredients is not known.”

There is a growing number of businesses in countries that are not predominantly Muslim producing foods that are certified as halal. This is less a function of cultural sensitivity than good business practice. A market research report from Packaged Facts suggests that food manufacturers consider kosher and halal certification for wider appeal, driven not just by religious considerations. “Companies should consider the marketing push and public perception of safety that comes with kosher certification and the far broader export opportunities that come with halal certification.

“Regarding halal foods, the market researcher said that there is ‘a dearth of reliable market data’ but cited the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry – where halal trade is of increasing importance – which estimates the market value for halal foods in the US at $11.6bn, and $548bn worldwide.

“The report also suggested that Canada presents broadening market opportunities for halal foods, with the number of Canadian Muslims set to double from 600,000 in 2000 to 1.2m in 2010, and a lack of convenient outlets for halal foods.”

KFC is going halal in the UK, and there are hundreds of halal Subway restaurants there. The US halal product directory includes foods from companies ranging from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Cabot Creamery to General Mills, Gerber and Kraft. Here’s the list of organizations accredited by the Halal Certification Authority in Australia – which means Vegemite is halal. (Not that I would ever eat it again.)

So is kosher halal, or vice versa? Well, yes and no. Certainly, both sets of food laws come from Abrahamic traditions, though there are specific rituals involved in slaughtering meat, e.g.; not incidentally, the rules for both kosher and halal are exceptions to the general rule in the United States that animals should be stunned before being killed. PunkTorah asks, Can Jews Eat Halal Meat, and if so, might that be a way toward peace?

Muslim-American Demographic Facts

ABC Wednesday – Round 7