Every year, Whole Foods runs a halal products promotion during Ramadan, marking the products with small signs bearing a crescent moon. It’s standard practice for the grocery store, which also does in-store promotions for Passover, Easter and Christmas.
But this year, the Houston Press reports that criticism by angry consumers has successfully halted the promotion, according to an internal e-mail the site obtained.
Whole Foods, however, says it has not canceled or changed the promotion at all. The e-mail was not sent from Whole Foods headquarters, but from one of the company’s 12 regions that received negative comments online.
Whole Foods would not comment on whether local stores would be affected.
An excerpt of the e-mail:
It is probably best that we don't specifically call out or 'promote' Ramadan... We should not highlight Ramadan in signage in our stores as that could be considered 'Celebrating or promoting' Ramadan.
After the e-mail was leaked, Whole Foods tried to undo the damage. The store responded on Twitter that it did not cancel that promotion and said the company was “excited” to be offering the halal products for shoppers. “We stand behind them and our promotion of them, just like we do with other seasonal and holiday products,” the store said in a statement.
But the damage had already been done. The store, which was usually associated with a tolerant, liberal atmosphere, was taken to task for the e-mail on Twitter:
Thank you Whole Foods for caving to Islomophobic zealots & canceling #Ramadan promotion. Now can u get ur customers to wear deodorant?
@WholeFoods shame on you for cancelling your Ramadan promotion!!!!!!!!!!!! I will never shop at Whole Foods again!!!!!