KINIGUIDE Among the many things which have occurred this week, the furore surrounding the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia’s (Jakim) request that pretzel franchise Auntie Anne’s changes the name of its food item ‘pretzel dog’ to ‘pretzel sausage’ was one of them.
This is in line with Jakim’s guidelines which bar the use of names similar to non-halal products such as ham, bacon, beer, rum, hot dog and ‘char siew’.
Many have criticised the ban on the use of names such as ‘hot dogs’ in particular, as the name has been used for many years and is simply synonymous with the food item - cooked sausage served in a sliced bun.
You don’t see hot dogs being called by any other name, do you?
Many also believe that the word ‘hot dog’ should not be taken literally and that the contents of the food - which are halal (permissible) - should be prioritised.
Thankfully, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic affairs Jamil Khir Baharom has confirmed that hot dogs will not be banned.
“It does not arise that Jakim and Islamic councils are banning popular and established food items, including hot dogs and those with similar names,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
The concern over hot dogs may have abated but since we are on the topic, Malaysiakini decided to delve into the issue of halal certification.
Is it easy or difficult to obtain halal certification? Either way, the process is definitely complex, to say the least.
So who can apply for halal certification?
According to Jakim’s halal certification guidelines, six types of applicants can do so and they are manufacturers or producers, distributors or traders, sub-contract manufacturers, those from the repacking industry, food premises as well as abattoirs or slaughterhouses.
Where can applications be submitted?
Applications for the halal confirmation certificate for national and international markets should be submitted as online applications to Jakim Halal Hub while applications for the halal confirmation certificate for the local market must be submitted directly to either the Department of State Religious Affairs (Jain) or the State Islamic Religious Council (Main), whichever applicable.
Your application is bound to fail if
You produce and distribute both halal and non-halal products, the product is not halal and if you are applying for natural substances that do not involve any processing.
Application for drugs will obviously fail while processed products manufactured overseas might also not pass the certification.
Applications cannot be made for hair colour and hair dyes as well as fertilisers and animal feed.
The halal directory also states that products labeled with ‘confusing terminologies’ like ‘bak kut teh’ (which literally means ‘pork bone tea’) will not pass the halal certification.
What must be included in the application?
Items such as the company profile, company or business registration, the name and description of the product, the menu for certification as well as ingredients used must be included.
Other items to be included are the name and address of the manufacturer or ingredient supplier, the halal status for ingredients with halal certificate, the type of packaging material as well as other relevant documents.
Applicants must also create a ‘halal confirmation certificate’ file to store all relevant documents for reference purposes during premise inspection.
What about the certification fee?
The service charge rate is based on several categories. For example, a particular industry or factory is divided into ‘small’, ‘small and medium’ as well as ‘multinational’.
The food premise category is divided into two which are either restaurants or hotels while the slaughter house category depends on whether it is small, medium or large in size.
All costs for research or laboratory tests in relation to the status of product ingredients will be borne by the applicant or company concerned.
The fee imposed for halal certification is valid for two years. Delay in payment will affect the halal inspection process.
Payment is also imposed on every renewal application.
Other things to consider for halal certification
Producers, manufacturers, food premises and slaughterhouses must ensure that they produce only halal products.
Companies that apply for the halal confirmation certificate must ensure that the source of ingredients is halal and choose sub-contractors that only supply halal goods or have halal confirmation certificates.
Companies listed under the multinational and small and medium industry (SME) category is required to establish an internal halal audit committee and appoint an Islamic affairs executive tasked to ensure compliance of halal certification procedures.
They are also required to have a minimum of two permanent Muslim workers of Malaysian nationality in the kitchen or food processing section.
Equipment used must be free of contamination while transportation used must be specifically for halal product delivery only.
So... who has halal certification and who does not?
Consumers can obtain information on approved halal certifications online. A simple check by clicking on the categories or by typing in keywords will yield relevant results.-Mkini