Saturday, February 27, 2021

Halal poser over ‘Merry Christmas’ greeting on cake

The bakery which had applied for halal certification apologised for being unable to write the Christmas greeting on a cake, which was instead sent with the message 'Happy Holidays'.

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A man was surprised when told by a bakery that it could not write “Merry Christmas” on a cake he had ordered for delivery to a friend as the shop was in the process of getting halal certification from the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim).

The cake was instead delivered to the recipient bearing the words “Happy Holidays”.

“I had never encountered such a problem in all the years I dealt with that cake house, but this time, the management apologised to me saying it is part of the conditions during the audit process,” the man who declined to be named told MalaysiaNow.

He also appealed for the identity of the cake house to be kept confidential, fearing it could otherwise give the business “unnecessary publicity”.

“It could well be a genuine mistake by someone in Jakim,” he added.

Jakim is legally empowered as the sole authority to issue halal certification on food and goods as well as eateries nationwide.

A checklist on Jakim’s Halal Management System has an entry on the use of the halal logo “to promote non-Muslim religious celebrations”.

The checklist is used during internal audits of a product covering all stages from the sourcing of its raw material to manufacturing, storage and retail.

However, it is not clear whether a halal-certified shop is prohibited from writing greetings for non-Muslim occasions as requested by customers.

MalaysiaNow has contacted Jakim’s Halal Management Division as well as the minister in charge of the federal department, Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, for an explanation.

In the past, critics had questioned several conditions imposed by Jakim on food manufacturers and franchises seeking halal certification, including prohibiting certain names from being used on the product.

Popular pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s and fast food franchise A&W were forced to rename their popular products due to a requirement by Jakim that words such as “dog” and “beer” are not used on their menu.

Auntie Anne’s renamed its “pretzel dog” as “pretzel sausage”, while A&W was forced to change the names of two popular dishes for which it is known worldwide: Coney Dog and Root Beer, which were renamed as Chicken (or Beef) Coney and RB.

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