* Stops production in France after lab finds traces of pork
* Casino supermarket chain pulls Herta halal sausages
(Adds detail, background)
PARIS, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Food giant Nestle NESN.VX decided on Tuesday to suspend all production of its Herta halal products in France, a spokeswoman said, after a laboratory found traces of pork in sausages labelled as made from chicken.
Nestle said the problem was specific to France, where it would suspend all production of the Herta halal line until it could conduct DNA tests on the suspected foods and come up with an alternate production process.
“We have decided to carry out DNA tests so this will delay deliveries ... As a result, we are suspending production in France until we find a new production process,” the spokeswoman said.
Retailer Casino (CASP.PA) had announced earlier on Tuesday that it was pulling Herta brand sausages with the “halal” label following a report by a laboratory in southwestern France alleging that it had found traces of pork in the product.
Halal certification is a sensitive topic in France, where some 8 percent of the population is Muslim and where food retailers have been spinning out their top-selling products in “halal” versions to corner the lucrative market.
While Muslim groups have hailed the growing selection, independent studies have shown that some products, notably the gyro-style sandwiches popular on streets across Europe, contain traces of pork in spite of their purported “halal” certification.
The opening of halal-only restaurants in France and Belgium by the Quick burger chain sparked a controversy last year, with some critics saying the decision was evidence of Muslims’ growing influence in secular French society. (Reporting by Gerard Bon and Nick Vinocur; Editing by Will Waterman)