KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 — Authorities will not issue halal certification for non-alcoholic “beer” or any product that uses “haram”-related names like ham or bacon, minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said today.
National newswire Bernama quoted the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department as saying at the Dewan Negara that the use of the term “halal beer” went against the Manual Procedure for Malaysia Halal Certification (MPPHM) used by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and other state Islamic departments for halal certification.
“In the manual, it’s clearly stated that products which use names or have names synonymous with non-halal products, or confusing terms like ‘ham’, ‘bak kut teh’, ‘bacon’, ‘beer’ and the like, cannot qualify for Malaysian halal certification.
“Halal food or halal artificial food colouring also cannot use names or names synonymous with confusing terms that refer to non-halal food,” Jamil Khir said in response to Senator Khairiah Mohamed, who asked the government for a list of approved “halal beer” that is in the market, as well as conditions for selling “halal beer”.
Jamil Khir also reportedly said some of those beverages have received halal certification from foreign private companies or halal certification bodies and that some did not use any halal logo on their products.
“It must be stressed that Jakim and JAIN (state Islamic departments) are the authorities for Malaysian halal certification. Each application for Malaysian halal certification must follow the MPPHM or fatwa decisions and related rules used in Malaysian halal certification.
“So, Jakim will ensure that these beverages do not misuse the Malaysian halal logo on their products,” he was quoted saying.
US paper the Wall Street Journal reported in 2015 that Malaysia’s non-alcoholic beer market in 2013 was three million litres and was expected to grow to 3.6 million litres by 2016, a small figure compared to the 11.5 per cent sales in the Middle East and Africa.
The report also said that fast food chain A&W switched to calling its root beer “RB” in 2013, in order to get the halal certification for all its outlets.
The issue of halal certification surfaced last October after an executive with US pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s revealed that their application for halal certification had failed due to, among others, concerns over “pretzel dogs” on the menu.
Some fast food restaurants in Malaysia use non-pork alternatives for ham and bacon, such as turkey ham and beef bacon. There are also vegetarian versions of “bak kut teh” (pork rib soup).