Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Bandar Seri Begawan - Consumers and bakers of Raya mini-cakes are concerned over the reported suspension of QBB Pure Ghee's halal certificate in Malaysia.
Muslim consumers in Brunei Darussalam are awaiting an official announcement from authorities in the Sultanate on their own assessment of reports that the product, widely used in the Malay cuisine, contains pig fat.
The Brunei Times contacted the Ministry of Religious Affairs yesterday and was informed that its Halal Food Control Division was fully aware of the situation.
"We are carrying further investigation on this matter," said Hjh Rabiatul Adawiyah Hj Ahmad, Education Officer at the Halal Food Control Division under the Ministry of Religious Affairs' Syariah Affairs Department. "So far our labs have tested the previous batches of the product, though we have not identified any trace of the `foreign substance'.
"As we await the new batches to arrive in our labs for testing, we are also awaiting further clarification from the Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) for the final verdict, then we will make an official public announcement," she added.
News reports have circulated in Malaysia that Jakim has revoked QBB Pure Ghee's halal certification allegedly because the product has "doubtful elements" prohibited for consumption by Muslims.
QBB Pure Ghee, also known as Minyak Sapi Tulen, is widely used by Muslims in Brunei and Malaysia.
Bruneian consumers have expressed concern about the report which is circulating through online networking platforms because the product is still on sale in the Sultanate.
For generations, Bruneians have been using QBB Pure Ghee for various delicacies served during religious functions.
A 22-year-old UBD undergraduate who wished to be only known as Syarifah said that she has been following up on the information circulated on the Internet for the past week.
"This is really alarming as we have used this brand for ages for our delicacies especially for this coming Aidilfitri. What's worse, they're still on sale in our local supermarket like nothing's been happening. I hope that we could get immediate clarification from the religious authorities as my mother has been really worried about the issue," she said.
Hjh Normala Hj Mohd Safiuddin, who bakes mini-cakes for the upcoming festive season, said she has recently stopped using QBB Pure Ghee for her pastries after hearing rumours and speculations spread by word of mouth and through online social networking site Facebook.
"I'm not at all sure whether it's true or not because there is no official confirmation yet in our country and they're still being sold in supermarkets, though I stopped purchasing them since the news spread," she said.
"It's too bad though because for years I have baked my mini-cakes with that brand, and people could definitely taste the difference if other brand alternatives are used," added the 34-year-old public servant.
Various supermarkets and restaurants in Brunei declined to comment on the matter when contacted.
Jakim has posted a notice on its website mentioning the suspension of the halal certificate with effect from August 19, 2010.
Investigations by Berita Harlan revealed that the allegations began circulating on the Internet when certain parties made reference to a copy of a letter that was purportedly from the One Malaysia Consumer Group (KKSM).
In the letter, KKSM purportedly claimed to have brought the product tested at a reputable food technology firm in Australia and reported as stating that product constitutes lard (pig fat) that has been decolourised and deodourised in a semi-solid state with permitted additives giving the product colour, flavour and aroma similar to that of pure ghee colour, flavour and aroma.
However, QBB (Pte) Ltd, the company that manufactures QBB Pure Ghee, said its popular product does not and has never contained lard or any substance of porcine origin, according to a report by Bernama last week.
The company said the Islamic Religious Authority of Singapore's Strategic Halal Certification Unit and the Agro-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) have verified that QBB products are halal and does not contain lard. -- Courtesy of The Brunei Times