Pretzel store franchise Auntie Anne's has been asked by the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) to change the name of of one of its menu items from 'pretzel dog' to 'pretzel sausage'.
Jakim’s Halal Division director Sirajuddin Suhaimee said this is because the department's assessment panel cannot approve the original name of the menu item as it refers to dogs.
"(Change it to) 'pretzel sausage'.
"Yes, (because) the panel cannot approve the word 'dog' as it refers to the canine animal," he told Malaysiakini when contacted today.
Sirajuddin was responding to a question on whether the franchise Auntie Anne's did not get the halal certification because of the menu item 'pretzel dog'.
Section 3.7.4 of the Malaysian halal food guideline states: "Halal food and halal artificial flavour shall not be named or synonymously named after non-halal products such as ham, bak kut teh, bacon, beer, rum and others that might create confusion."
Yesterday, the franchise's quality supervisor and halal executive Farhatul Kamilah Mohamed Sazali said they tried to apply for a halal certification but it was rejected due to that particular menu item.
Jakim has also reportedly asked Auntie Anne's to apply for a halal certification for its central kitchen, where the packaging is done, before it proceeds with the applications for the outlets.
Farhatul Kamilah also said that she applied for the halal certification for all 45 Auntie Anne's outlets under one application, but was told to apply according to the zones they are located in to make the auditing process easier.
Jakim has also released a statement confirming that no Auntie Anne's outlet has been issued with halal certification as yet.
Several technical issues involved
"The company submitted its application for halal certification before, but it could not be processed due to several technical issues, such as supporting documents for the ingredients.
"However, after several improvements were done, the status of Auntie Anne's food products are in the process of being certified halal and its central kitchen has entered the halal auditing phase," Jakim said in the statement.
The department also stressed that it never said that Auntie Anne’s products were not halal.
It explained that the process of issuing halal certification takes into account every recipe and process related to a food product and that this is examined thoroughly by a syariah expert.
"Jakim highly appreciates the efforts and commitment of the industry in preparing healthy and clean food products in an environment that is conducive to consumers.
"Hence, the people are advised to be consistent in choosing halal food that is good, in order to maintain a sustainable halal ecosystem," the statement said. - Mkini