Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Cadbury-Kraft Boycott

There is smouldering anger against Cadbury. 

On Thursday, the Malaysian Muslim Wholesalers’ and Retailers’ Association (MAWAR) kicked off an official boycott of all products under Kraft Foods Manufacturing Malaysia – a long list of brands that includes Cadbury, Cheezels, Jacob’s, Chacos, Kraft, Ritz, Chipsmore, Tiger, Oreo, Toblerone, Halls, Clorets, Twister and Dentyne – in protest over Cadbury Malaysia’s alleged inaction over the porcine DNA found in its chocolates. They instructed their 800 members to take the products off their shelves and return them to the food manufacturer. These people are determined to punish Cadbury. 

Bazeer Ahmed, a MAWAR member during a news conference on stopping the supply of Cadbury chocolate products to retail shops, in Kuala Lumpur May 29, 2014. Reuters pic 

But things became complicated. On the same day too, the National Fatwa Council declared that it will maintain the 'halal' status of the two affected Cadbury products. It means that the chocolates are safe to be consumed by Muslims. 

Bernama reported National Fatwa Council committee chairperson Prof Emeritus Dr Abdul Shukor Husin’s explanation: "In the case of ready-made products that had been marketed to consumers and produced through processes using clean and halal ingredients and had been confirmed as halal, but later found it had been contaminated with pig DNA in certain batches only, then the committee had decided that it was categorized as 'Umum al-Balwa'.” 

He continued: "The ruling on the product is referred to the original ruling, that is, halal for consumption because the contamination occurred beyond the scope of control and difficult to avoid". 

Huh? Did anybody understand what he was talking about? To me, the issue is simple. If the chocolates are tainted, they are tainted. No two ways about it. 

Unless (a) the samples were compromised and they just found out about it; (b) the test results were incorrect but nobody wants to own up; (c) the tainted products were not from Cadbury; and (4) a political decision was made to save Cadbury.

On another note, I still cannot figure out how the chocolates carried the 'haram' DNA? But if indeed they were there, Cadbury was being very dishonest in not declaring the true ingredients in their products and they had also misused the 'halal' certification to deceive.

Complication begot confusion. After all, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had already suspended the products' halal certification. So how? 

Meanwhile, yesterday, chocolate manufacturer Cadbury Malaysia maintained that all of its products are halal, including the two – Cadbury Dairy Milk Hazelnut and Cadbury Dairy Milk Roast Almond which were tested positive with porcine DNA. 

“...we have no reason to believe that there is any porcine or pork-related ingredient in our Cadbury chocolates,” said Cadbury Malaysia head of corporate affairs Raja Zalina Raja Safran. 

“We stand by our halal certification and we have the highest level of product labeling standards,” she added. 

By now, confusion has turned to consternation. Who to believe? What to believe? How to believe!

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