May 26, 2014 6:03 pm JST

Cadbury Malaysia recalls non-halal sweets

CK TAN, Nikkei staff writer

KUALA LUMPUR -- Cadbury Malaysia has recalled two chocolate treats that tested positive for traces of pork DNA.

     Following a periodic inspection for non-halal ingredients in foodstuffs, the Ministry of Health announced Saturday that two out of three samples of Cadbury Malaysia products contained the pork traces. 

     The affected products -- Cadbury Dairy Milk Hazelnut and Cadbury Dairy Milk Roast Almond -- were readily available in the country's supermarkets and convenience stores.

     Like most foodmakers in the country, Cadbury Malaysia has all of its products certified halal. This means they conform to Islam's dietary restrictions, one of which is a prohibition on pork. Muslims make up more than 60% of Malaysia's population.

     Malaysia takes pride in its stringent halal certification system. Jakim, the government body in charge of the process, provides regular updates on its website about companies that have obtained halal status. Jakim's certification is widely recognized in Muslim communities around the world.

     Following the announcement, consumers took to social media to express their outrage. Cadbury Malaysia, whose Facebook page has more than 9 million "Likes," has been bombarded by demands for an apology in the past couple of days. There have also been calls for a boycott.

     The company said it understands consumers' disappointment and is undertaking a full review of its supply chain to ensure halal standards are met. The government said it will conduct thorough checks on all Cadbury Malaysia products to ensure they are safe for Muslims to eat.

     Halal compliance issues have caused a stir elsewhere in Southeast Asia, too. Years ago, there was a public outcry when Ajinomoto Indonesia was found to be using pork enzymes in its seasonings.

     The Cadbury brand is owned by Nasdaq-listed Mondelez International, one of the world's largest snack companies.