The scandal over the ingredient banned under Islamic dietary laws
has sparked outrage among some Muslim groups in Malaysia, who have
called for a boycott on all products made by Cadbury and its parent
Mondelez International Inc.
Concerns over halal food standards could jeopardize Mondelez's sales
in Muslim markets that are larger than Malaysia, such as Indonesia,
home to the world's largest Muslim population, and the Middle East.
"After such an incident, it is prudent to do a test on the other
variants to see if they also have traces of the pig DNA. We may have
the result in a few days," Roy Alexander Sparingga, head of
Indonesia's Food and Drug Monitoring Agency, told Reuters.
Sparingga said the tests would be done on the 10 varieties of
Cadbury products that are certified in Indonesia as halal - or
permissible according to Islamic law. Those products did not include
the two types of Dairy Milk chocolate that Cadbury Malaysia recalled
this week after finding pork traces.
Malaysian Islamic authorities tried to cool anger against Cadbury by
saying it remained unclear if the contamination was the company's
"People need to understand that we can't immediately take action
against Cadbury when there's no solid evidence yet or if
contamination occurred in the factory itself or if it was external
factors," said Othman Mustapha, the director general of Malaysia's
Department of Islamic Development, or JAKIM.
"What's happening to Cadbury now is akin to a person who's remanded
and placed in lockup. They have not been found guilty so this is
just a suspension," he added.
JAKIM, which is responsible for awarding halal certification in
Malaysia, is conducting further tests on the suspect Cadbury
products to confirm the initial findings by the health ministry.
MALAYSIA AUTHORITIES DAMPEN CONCERNS
Cadbury Malaysia said in a statement that it had withdrawn the two
products as a precaution and that it had no reason to believe there
was pork-related content in its other foods.
"We stand by our halal certification and we have the highest levels
of product labeling standards," it said.
Products in Muslim nations are regularly checked to ensure they are
halal. Besides pork, items considered non-halal by Muslims include
alcohol and the meat of animals and birds that have not been
slaughtered according to Islamic rites.
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Non-halal food scandals have erupted in Southeast Asia before. In
2001, Japanese food giant Ajinomoto Co Inc became embroiled in a
similar case after the Indonesian Council of Ulemas, the highest
Islamic authority, accused the company of using pig enzymes in the
production process of the widely used seasoning monosodium
The then Indonesian president stepped in to try to defuse the row
which had hit the company's share price. Ajinomoto's local company
subsequently publicly apologized and withdrew some products from the
On Thursday, a Malaysian Muslim retail group said it would ask the
800 stores it represents to stop selling all products made by
Cadbury, Mondelez and U.S. food giant Kraft, which acquired Cadbury
in 2010 in a $19-billion deal. Together with a Muslim consumer
group, it called on Malaysians to boycott all those companies'
Mondelez is the name of what remains of Kraft Foods Inc after it
spun off its North American grocery business as Kraft Foods Group <KRFT.O>.
Its brands include Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers.
Malaysia's National Fatwa Council, which issues official guidance on
Islamic issues, said on Friday it supported the withholding of halal
status on the two Cadbury products but that the company should not
be punished unless the breach was proven to be intentional.
"The authorities need to do their investigation to see if the
accusations are valid, and to see where the pollution happened,
whether it was deliberate or accidental," Abdul Shukor Husin, the
council's committee chairman, told Reuters.
"Muslim people who had consumed the product that had been certified
halal but contained pig DNA should not worry about the purity of
their bodies. Islam is not a rigid religion."
(Additional reporting by Trinna Leong in KUALA LUMPUR and Jonathan
Thatcher in JAKARTA; Writing by Stuart Grudgings,; Editing by Miral
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