Much Ado Over Hot Dogs
This week's drama in the Malaysian media may strike some outsiders as odd, as the subject is something that we very rarely devote mental space to: Hot Dogs.
This week's drama in the Malaysian media may strike some outsiders as odd, as the subject is something that we really very rarely devote much mental space to: Hot Dogs. Or more specifically, Auntie Anne's Pretzel Dog.
Yup, the hue and furore is about none other than a rather delicious snack, the pretzel wrapped sausage that we've probably treated our kids (or ourselves!) to at some point or another. More specifically, its about the name of the item, and not the contents.
On Monday, news broke that the popular pretzel chain Auntie Anne's was denied halal certification Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) with one of the reasons being that the name "pretzel dog" was inappropriate and should be changed before certification could be granted.
Farhatul Kamilah Mohamed Sazali, Auntie Anne's quality assurance and halal executive said that they have submitted several options and was now waiting for a decision from Jakim’s panel.
After significant social media buzz, with minister Nazri Aziz even criticising the move as backward and ridiculous, Jakim has weighed in, stating that there were other reasons Auntie Anne's was denied halal certification, among them being incomplete paperwork.
Auntie Anne's apparently failed to apply for halal certification for their central kitchen and also did not apply separately for each of their 45 outlets.
Dr Sirajuddin Suhaimee, Jakim's halal division director, who previously told Malaysian media that “in Islam, dogs are considered unclean and the name cannot be related to halal certification” insisted his remark was not made specifically about Auntie Anne’s.
He insists his remarks were taken out of context by media reports, and that Jakim was just following procedure in certification. He did however suggest that the outlet change the name from Pretzel Dog to Pretzel Sausage.
A halal certification means that the food is certified by an Islamic body to have been prepared in a halal manner and is free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law for example pork and alcohol.
A halal certification gives Muslims peace of mind that the food that they are eating is indeed prepared in accordance to their religious principles.
This is the view taken by some parents who do agree with Jakim's stringent policies, accusing the alternative media of sensationalising a standard certification process.
Others claim that it is a silly issue, a mere distraction and that most Malaysians are aware that hot dogs do not contain dog meat just as root beer does not contain alcohol.
Others prefer a middle road, abstaining from Auntie Anne's until the halal certification is given or simply continuing to enjoy the Pretzel Dogs that they always have!