Jakim has no plans to ban 'pretzel dog': Jamil

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) has no plans to ban "pretzel dog" from popular food chain Auntie Anne's.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said Jakim does not intend to declare as haram any established food products "unsuitably" labelled with words such as "dog".

Jamil, who is minister in charge of Islamic matters, said Jakim is more concerned with the ingredients used to make the product, before a halal certificate could be issued.

"We are not going to declare as haram, food products that are already popular.

"There is no issue of Jakim withdrawing the halal certificate of the restaurant as they are still applying to Jakim," he said.

"We do not go to a restaurant without halal certification and tell them to shut their business," he told a press conference at the Parliament lobby here.

Jamil said the matter was turned into a hot issue by a fake statement made viral on social media that tried to put Jakim at fault.

"It is untrue as Jakim had never declared (the product) as haram," he said.

"The obtaining of a halal certificate is voluntary and anyone can apply but it is subjected to rules and conditions," he added.

Jamil said Jakim will be holding a discussion on the status of Auntie Anne's halal application.

Jakim's halal division director Dr Sirajuddin Suhaimee said Auntie Anne's application had failed due to incomplete paperwork.

"It was a general statement made based on the procedures in the application," he said yesterday.

Under Jakim's 2014 Halal Certification Circular No. 2, products must not be described with words synonymous with non-halal products or "confusing" terms such as "ham, bak kut teh, bacon, beer, rum, hotdog, char siew" and the like, and must not be a local and imported finished product that are re-labelled without undergoing any processes in Malaysia.

The issue was first highlighted after Auntie Anne's quality assurance and halal executive Farhatul Kamilah Mohamed Sazali said the company had submitted several names for a food product and was awaiting a decision from Jakim's panel.

In a Facebook post on Monday, she said the "pretzel dog" name had to be changed following Jakim's directive.

She said the initial application was for all 45 outlets in the country, and following Jakim's decision, Auntie Anne's would change all its outlet menu boards before proceeding with a new application for halal certification.