Now Jamil says name does not matter for halal status

JamilKUALA LUMPUR: Jamil Khir Baharom today said the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) will not deny halal certification just because a product’s name was not in line with the department’s guidelines, a move which contradicts Jakim’s earlier guidelines.

“If (an establishment) wants to protect a name, compromises can be made in that sense as well,” said the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, following the uproar over revelations that US fast food chain Auntie Anne’s was told to change the name of its “Pretzel Dog” to fulfil one of Jakim’s halal requirements.

Checks by FMT revealed that a guideline issued by Jakim in 2014 said halal certification would not be given for products with names it considered inappropriate and “confusing”.

But Jamil today said there still could be “compromises” in Auntie Anne’s case, adding that Jakim had yet to reject the company’s application for halal status at its 45 outlets.

“For Auntie Anne’s, it wasn’t a rejection, it was just a proposal,” Jamil told reporters at the Parliament today.

“At the end of the day, they can’t be denied a certificate just because of the name,” he said.

Jakim’s guideline has in the past forced several popular brands to be renamed, including A&W’s Coney Dog, now known as “Chicken Coney” or “Beef Coney”, and “Root Beer” now renamed as “RB”.

Jamil said it did not mean the authorities were out to ban names such as “hotdogs” or to declare them as “haram” for Muslims.

“There is no issue of Jakim wanting to ban popular or established names like hotdogs.

“The focus is on the content of the food, not the name. I eat hotdogs too,” he said.

Auntie Anne’s had earlier said it submitted several new names for its “Pretzel Dog” product and was awaiting a decision from Jakim’s panel.