British chocolate company Cadbury has quelled calls for a boycott in Malaysia after fully certifying its products are pork-free and thus Halal. The company received a fully Halal certification on Monday by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) after reports surfaced that pork products had been used in chocolates.
According to the New Straits Times, the Malaysian Ministry of Health sparked an uproar by announcing in May that it had found porcine DNA in Cadbury products during a routine inspection. The products in question were Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Hazelnut and Dairy Milk Roast Almond, products not overtly suspicious of having pork in them. The products were temporarily recalled, with one senior Muslim religious official calling for a shutdown of Malaysia’s Cadbury plant. The revelation triggered investigations in Saudi Arabian Cadbury plants for similar traces of pork.
In Malaysia, more than 20 Muslim groups called for a full boycott of the company. “They stuffed pigs into our mouths, then apologized,” said Azwanddin Hamzah, president of Hamzah Jaringan Melayu Malaysia, a non-profit religious group at the forefront of calls for boycotting Cadbury that threatened to sue the company. As Quartz explains, “Malaysia is seen as the global leader for halal certification, with exports of $9.8 billion last year.”
The Malaysian Ministry of Health returned halal status to Cadbury products officially last week, though religious officials remained skeptical until Monday, when the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) affirmed that the Cadbury products complied with Islamist Law. Despite the government’s approval, some groups, such as the Association of Islamic Consumers, continued to call for a boycott of the product. Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) has also called for consumers to wait for the results of a separate police investigation on the matter.
Sunil Sethi, the managing director of Cadbury Malaysia’s parent company, welcomed the news that the company was once again certified. “Around 70 to 80 per cent of the staff at the Cadbury plant are Muslims, which is why halal is and has been our top priority,” he told the media.