OLYMPIA — Legislation passed today by the Senate would make it a crime for sellers to mispresent the content or preparation of halal food products.

“When we buy things, as we do every day, we have reasonable expectations,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the sponsor of SB 5799. “And when someone buys a halal food product, they expect a product that meets Islamic standards.”

SB 5799 extends existing consumer protections for the sale of other food to the growing market of halal food products, Wilson said, using the example of kosher items that are commonly found on supermarket shelves.

“For as long as I can remember, people have been able to buy kosher products that satisfy dietary guidelines set by traditional Jewish law,” Wilson said. “Anyone who buys halal food should receive a product that meets Islamic standards.”

Known as the Halal Food Consumer Protection Act, SB 5799 requires that no one knowingly sell or offer for sale any food product marked, stamped, tagged, branded, labeled, or represented as halal when that person knows that the food product is not halal. Violators would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. Food in transit from one processing facility to another processing facility to complete its preparation for sale would be exempt from the labeling requirements but would be otherwise subject to all applicable provisions.

Wilson said the new law was needed in part because halal foods typically cost more than comparable food products, making their sale more profitable and increasing the incentive for a seller to knowingly misrepresent improperly prepared products as halal.

“More than 125,000 Muslims live in Washington state, and that number continues to grow,” Wilson said. “Increased awareness of culturally acceptable foods improves our ability to meet the needs of a diverse society.”