KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 ― The Domestic Trade, Consumerism and Co-operatives Ministry can act against restaurants with “no pork” sign, purportedly for attempting to deceive Muslim consumers into dining there, Malay daily Berita Harian (BH) reported today.
An enforcement director told the newspaper that the sign does not mean a restaurant is classified “halal” or permissible under Islam, and thus action can be taken under Sections 28 and 29 of the Trade Descriptions Act 2011 for attempting to confuse Muslims through Quranic verses and objects.
“Consumers must remember the ‘pork free’ sign does not mean it is halal. So don't be deceived if there are many Muslims eating in that restaurant.
“Consumers must be cautious on the definition of halal-certified food,” enforcement director Mohd Roslan Mahayudin said in the report.
Section 28 in the Act deals with terms and expressions used in relation to goods or services, while Section 29 touches on informative marking and certification orders.
Under Section 28, a company can be fined not more than RM5 million for first offence, while an offender that is not a corporate body can be fined not more than RM1 million or jailed not more than three years.
Under Section 29, a company can be fined not more than RM200,000 for first offence, while an offender that is not a corporate body can be fined not more than RM100,000 or jailed not more than three years.
Mohd Roslan said it is not easy to get a halal certification by the department of Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), pointing that it requires operators to meet several criteria in order to get the approval.
“The chef must be clean from all dirt. A restaurant is not necessarily halal just because it doesn't serve pork,” he was reported as saying.
The newspaper also quoted Malaysian Islamic Consumer Association (PPIM) as urging Federation of Malaysian Consumer Association to act on restaurants with “no pork” signs, saying that it raises doubts on whether food and beverages in these premises meet the criteria of Jakim standards.
“The issue of halal is a much talked about matter...besides the halal certification which has been constantly exploited by certain parties... now we have this ‘no pork’ sign that is raising all sorts of perceptions and different meanings.
“Maybe they feel the sign of ‘no pork’ and ‘pork-free’ shows a restaurant is halal but this incorrect as the halal certification comes from Jakim only,” PPIM chief Datuk Nadzim Johan said.
In August 2014, PPIM had urged authorities to compel food outlets to display their halal or non-halal signs more prominently to protect Arab tourists ignorant of Malaysia’s cultural diversity.
In the same report, BH said its own survey found that only one of the 10 restaurants surveyed at a mall here had Jakim’s halal certification displayed while nine others only had the “no pork” sign.
BH reported a restaurant operator explaining that the “pork free” sign was just a way of telling its consumers that it does not serve dishes with pork and that it had not applied for halal certification with Jakim.