OLYMPIA — It will soon be a crime to knowingly prepare or sell foods falsely described as halal.

“Just as distinctive foods like kosher products must satisfy dietary guidelines set by traditional Jewish law, foods sold as halal should meet Islamic standards,” said Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), the sponsor of the new law. “As more and more of my constituents are practicing Muslims, I’m hearing more about the need to ensure that halal food is labeled truthfully.”

Wilson’s SB 5799, signed into law this week by Gov. Jay Inslee, will take effect June 6 and extend standard consumer protections to include halal food products that have grown in demand as Muslim Washingtonians have grown in population. Violations will be subject to penalties under the new Halal Food Consumer Protection Act.

“One of the strengths of American life is that our communities are not static,” Wilson said. “New waves of immigrants bring new foods and levels of cultural awareness that constantly enrich our communities, and I’m glad to say that the 30th District has welcomed many new Muslim neighbors who have told me of the need for halal food integrity.”

Wilson said the need for the bill is driven partly by the higher prices charged for halal foods than for more familiar fare, providing an incentive for sellers to knowingly misrepresent foods as halal. At the same time, she said, the law was crafted carefully so as not to discourage stores from stocking halal food.

“The growing demand for halal food makes two things increasingly clear,” Wilson said. “These foods need to be readily accessible, and they need to meet the dietary standards expected by those who buy them.”