Yuliasri Perdani and Linda Yulisman
THE Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) is testing 13 products made by British confectioner Cadbury to ensure they comply with Islamic standards following uproar in Malaysia over the discovery that two varieties of chocolate bar were contaminated with pork DNA.
The agency’s head, Roy Alexander Sparingga, said on Friday that the sampling tests were aimed at ensuring no Cadbury products contained pork, which is forbidden under Islamic dietary standards.
“We are conducting tests on 13 Cadbury products that have obtained licenses for distribution in Indonesia, eight of which are chocolate bar varieties,” Roy said.
The Malaysian authorities recently found traces of pork DNA in Cadbury Dairy Milk Hazelnut and Cadbury Dairy Milk Roast Almond bars, both manufactured in Malaysia. “The two varieties are not legally sold here,” Roy noted.
Aside from the tests, the BPOM would keep an eye on import-export activities along the country’s borders over concerns the products had been smuggled into Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population. “We have increased supervision along the borders, in particular along the eastern coast of Sumatra,” he said.
Roy called on the public not to worry as the BPOM had taken all necessary steps to ensure food safety as well as halal compliance.
The agency has initiated the precautionary tests despite a decision by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) to confirm the halal status of all Cadbury products legally sold on the market.
“After the case in Malaysia, we immediately examined 10 Cadbury products on the market, all of them tested negative for pork DNA,” said head of the MUI’s food and drugs unit Lukmanul Hakim.
According to Lukmanul, the MUI first certified Cadbury Indonesia products in the 1990s but the company stopped renewing the halal certification around 1996 or 1997.
“At the time, they started producing all products in Malaysia and opted to only use halal certification issued by the Malaysian authorities. The company only reapplied for MUI certification earlier this year,” said Lukmanul.
Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi said that his ministry would study the issue while noting that non-halal products could be imported into the country. “In Indonesia, there is no obligation to sell halal products,” he said. However, Lutfi noted that due to the sensitive nature of the market, there was pressure on the authorities and companies to declare whether food products met Islamic standards.
Commenting on the issue, the Association of Indonesian Retailers (Aprindo) deputy secretary-general Satria Hamid said that all members of the association would continue to sell Cadbury products that had been certified by the BPOM and the MUI.
“We have instructed our members to check all Cadbury products to ensure they have complied with distribution rules and halal licenses,” he said.
Indonesian Cacao Industry Association (AIKI) chairman Piter Jasman suggested that the concerns over Cadbury products could provide the impetus for global confectionery companies to build their production plants in Indonesia.
“Consumers trust domestic products more as the production process must comply with national regulations and standards,” Peter said.
Cadbury Indonesia could not be reached for comment.
The Jakarta Post
Sat, May 31 2014,