'Merry Christmas' cakes still halal-certified, Malaysian mufti says
Malaysia's religious affairs minister has said that halal-certified items made for non-Islamic religious festivals can still retain their halal status, after an official from the country's halal certification authority reportedly claimed otherwise.
The minister's remarks followed a furore that erupted on social media after it was reported that a Malaysian baker refused to bake a Christmas cake out of fear that the item's halal certification would come under question. The baker instead opted to bake a 'Happy Holidays' cake, according to local media reports.
Fuel was added to the fire after an anonymous official from Malaysia's federal Islamic affairs agency, JAKIM, was quoted by MalaysiaNow as saying that the baked goods' halal status would be jeopardised.
Taking to Twitter, Religious Affairs Minister and Mufti for Malaysia's federal territories Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad said food items made for non-Islamic religious festivals retain their halal status - as long as they are not put on display.
“Festive wishes are allowed on a product as long as they are not produced for display on premises that have been certified halal or on a product with the halal logo,” Zulkifli wrote.
The minister's clarification was rounded off with a message wishing Christians in Malaysia peace, health, joy and wealth for the future.
Malaysia's halal certification authority has in the past intervened when it deemed names of food items to be inappropriate, including in 2016 when the US fast food chain Auntie Anne's Malaysian restaurants changed the name of their 'pretzel dog' to 'pretzel sausage'.
JAKIM reportedly suggested that the name change, and this allowed the item to keep its halal certified status.
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