PETALING JAYA: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz yesterday criticised the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) for its decision to deny halal certification to pretzel store franchise Auntie Anne’s over the use of the term “pretzel dog” on its menu.
Describing the decision as “stupid and REPORT ON backward”, the Umno supreme council member said Jakim had no reason to make an issue of the term as “pretzel dog” did not mean the food item contained dog meat.
“Hot dog (or pretzel dog) has always been known to be a western food. It comes from the English language. (They) should not make us seem stupid and backward.
“A hot dog is a hot dog even in Malay. We
have been eating it for so many years. I’m a Muslim and I’m least offended by it at all. It has never endangered my faith,” he told theSun when contacted yesterday.
Meanwhile, Pasir Mas MP and PAS Youth chief Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz said there should be no problems with food operators using the term “hot dog” to describe sausage-based food products.
He said the term “dog” in context should not be a problem as it has been commonly used to describe a cooked sausage dish.
Social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, in her Facebook page on Tuesday, had said: “Oh we poor, easily confused Muslims who have never heard of hot dogs before and who will have no choice but to buy one if one was on the menu.”
Their responses came as thousands of netizens criticised Jakim’s decision after Auntie Anne’s did not receive halal certification due to the pretzel dog menu item.
Several social media users also questioned the halal status of food and drink items such as A&W’s “rootbeer” and “coney dogs” and hot dogs following Jakim’s directive.
It is learnt that Jakim had called on the Auntie Annie’s franchise to change the name of its pretzel dog to “pretzel sausage” as the department could not approve the word “dog”.
Even as Jakim’s decision earned the derision of many, Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) vicepresident Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman has come out with a statement calling on food producers and restaurant operators to avoid words including “beer” and “dog”, as it would confuse Muslims.
He said Jakim should also be more cautious when issuing halal certification to ensure such issues do not arise once the company is awarded the certificate.
Also toeing the same line is Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) lead activist Nadzim Johan, who said Auntie Anne’s should be more mindful of the sensitivities of Muslims and that Jakim’s guidelines are in line with Islamic teachings since the word “dog” is inappropriate.
The issue was first highlighted after Auntie Anne’s quality assurance and halal executive Farhatul Kamilah Mohamed Sazali said the pretzel franchise had submitted several names for a food product and was awaiting a decision from Jakim’s panel.
In her Facebook posting on Monday, she said the “pretzel dog” name had to be changed following Jakim’s directive.
She added that following Jakim’s decision, Auntie Anne’s will change its entire menu board before proceeding with a new application for halal certification.
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