KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 ― Home bakers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, are aghast over McDonald’s Malaysia’s policy barring cakes without halal certification from its premises.
Most questioned the necessity for such restrictions, with one claiming that even Muslim countries in the Middle East did not impose such rules.
Some also lamented the implication of such a rule on the country’s state of affairs.
“I am totally against this! How would you know this cake is halal or not anyway? If I, a Muslim baked the cake and it is bought by a non-Muslim customer, they will be penalised?” Roslinda Rusli of TortebyLinda told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
“What if it's a Muslim who bought my cake and carries it into McDonald's? I don't know what's happening in this country! So particular of everything.”
Roslinda, a former cabin crew member, said that she has been baking for five years now, and did not apply for a halal certification because she only uses halal ingredients, as she is Muslim.
“What do you want us to do to get the halal certification? This is just ridiculous. I used to fly to Abu Dhabi quite often when I was a flight attendant, but as a Muslim country, even they don't do things like this,” she added.
Nor Haslinda Rahman, a self-taught baker and fondant expert who bakes from home, also shared Roslinda's sentiment, calling the move “ridiculous”.
She complained that obtaining halal certification was arduous, even for Muslims, and said that many like her were only baking for side income.
“But I want to ask, this McDonald's ruling, does it extend to Muslims too? Nor Haslinda said.
Roziah Daud who runs Let's Eat Cake Enterprise, an online cake store, also criticised the policy, and argued that the basic ingredients for cakes were generally halal items such as flour, eggs and sugar.
She also said that in her over 20 years’ experience, she has never come across any porcine-derived baking ingredients.
“This should not even be a problem. At times, when you go to other ordinary cafes, they don't ask you where your cake comes from and whether it is halal or not. Stop vetting people's privacy! If the cake is for their own consumption, how could you impose a rule like this?” she said angrily.
Others such as Shanta Daniel also questioned the practicality of small bakers securing halal certification for each and every cake, saying they frequently introduced new flavours and varieties.
Chitra Singam, another baker, said authorities could help clear the confusion by explaining halal requirements clearly, claiming that some Muslims had more restrictive interpretations than others.
“Some Muslims want the whole premise to be halal, but others are cool as long as the food and the preparation that goes into it are halal. So which is it now?,” she asked.
McDonald’s Malaysia on Thursday confirmed that it has enforced a policy barring customers from bringing cakes without halal certification into its premises.
It told Malay Mail Online that while it generally did not allow outside food and drinks in its restaurants, it made an exception for birthday cakes.
However, it said it required that such cakes be demonstrably halal, either through certification or logo in order to safeguard its own certification.
The fast food giant said that it would continue to “strictly uphold” all standards regarding food quality, safety and halal so that all customers can enjoy their products with “peace of mind.”
Halal certification is under the purview of the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia.
The prevalence of its certification as an indicator of a food item’s suitability for consumption is such that the absence of its logo regularly raises Muslim concerns about the item.
* Editor’s note: An earlier version misspelt bakers Roslinda Rusli's name as Ruslinda and Nor Haslinda Rahman's name as Norhaslina. Malay Mail Online apologises for the errors which have since been corrected.