KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 ― After a recent scare over the halal status of two batches of Cadbury’s chocolate products, officials with the country’s top Islamic authority have volunteered to eat Cadbury chocolate bars to prove they were safe for Muslim consumption.
Mohd Amri Abdullah, the senior director of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim)’s Halal Hub Division, expressed the department’s confidence that the Cadbury chocolates were halal or permissible for Muslims to consume.
“As stated, Cadbury is halal. If we are asked to eat the Cadbury chocolate, we are confident as it is certified halal,” he was quoted saying yesterday night by Astro Awani.
In addressing lingering doubts by some Muslims over Cadbury’s products, he said Jakim only issues the halal certification when certain standards are met, adding that consumers “should leave all doubts aside”.
He denied that Jakim’s declaration yesterday that the Cadbury products were halal amounted to a U-turn.
More than a week ago, the Health Ministry announced that it detected pig DNA in samples taken from Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Hazelnut and Dairy Milk Roast Almond products already out in the market, sparking an uproar among Muslim groups.
But Jakim announced yesterday that an analysis by the Chemistry Department of samples of the two products taken directly from Cadbury’s factory showed no traces of porcine contamination.
Mohd Amri said Jakim’s decision on the halal status of the Cadbury products was based on the Chemistry Department’s test results, saying: “In order to make a decision on the halal status, Jakim only used the Chemistry Department’s lab which is allowed.”
“The standard and procedures which are used by Jakim to certify a halal status is the same as the ones used by the Ministry of Health,” he was quoted saying in the report on Astro Awani’s news portal.
Yesterday, Jakim also pointed out the Health Ministry’s samples were not taken directly from Cadbury’s factory, suggesting that this resulted in possible contamination and flawed test results.
The public should refer all matters on halal certification to Jakim, Mohd Amri said, likening the government department to an imam or religious leader.
“Jakim is seen as an imam, consumers as its followers (congregation) who needs to follow what is decided by Jakim in this issue,” he said.
Recently, more than 20 Malay-Muslim groups have called for a nationwide boycott on all Cadbury products, saying that a holy war needs to be waged against the confectionary giant for allegedly attempting to “weaken” Muslims in Malaysia.
Yesterday, Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) said it will continue its boycott of all products by Cadbury Malaysia and Kraft Foods Manufacturing Malaysia until the Health Ministry issues an apology for its May 24 announcement.
Pointing to the contradicting announcements by Jakim and the Health Ministry, PPIM also urged the government to standardise food testing by its agencies.to prevent wastage of public funds.