The Malaysian Islamic Development Department – the Malay government’s religious authority – has become the object of ridicule after it ordered food outlets to drop the word ‘dog’ from hot dogs.
Those who do not comply, according to this report, risk being refused halal certification as dogs are considered unclean in Islam and should not be linked to food.
However, not all in government are backing the ruling. Nazri Aziz, the Minister for Malaysian Tourism and Culture, called the decision “stupid and backward,” telling reporters that as a Muslim he was not offended.
Hot dog is hot dog lah. Even in Malay it’s called hot dog – it’s been around for so many years. It comes from the English language. Please do not make us seem stupid and backward.
Action was taken because Muslim tourists reportedly complained about the name of the food, which often contains pork meat in the West, but is mostly made from halal chicken in Malaysia.
Sirajuddin Suhaimee, director of the halal division in the Department of Islamic Development, said consumers were “confused” over the wording of hot dogs.
Any [halal] products that make consumers confused, we have to change. In Islam, dogs are considered unclean and the name cannot be related to halal certifications.
US food chain Auntie Anne’s, which has dozens of outlets across Malaysia, was given a “no halal certification” warning unless it renamed its product “Pretzel Sausage”.
The company said the pretzel chain had no problem with changing the name, saying it was a “minor issue”.
The company’s halal executive, Farhatul Kamilah, is reported here as saying on her Facebook page that the chain has proposed several new names and was waiting for the Islamic department’s approval.
The term “root beer” has also been deemed unacceptable in Malaysia since 2009, because of Islam’s prohibition on alcohol — even though root beer contains no alcohol.
Last year, “halal” bottled mineral water was introduced to the country.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn