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Don’t force food companies in S’pore to go halal, says S’porean Muslim

At the end of the day, it's a business decision.

Sulaiman Daud | February 17, 2018 @ 03:05 pm

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Mr Bean (the food outlet, not the British comedy icon) is a known home-grown brand that sells soya bean drinks and food products.

Over the years, it has grown and expanded its menu to offer meat items, like meatballs:

Photo via Mr Bean website

As well as hotdogs:

Photo via Mr Bean Facebook page

Uncertainty over whether their food items were halal-certified prompted someone named Muhammad Arif to write a Facebook post on what he felt were overly-aggressive queries from Muslim customers.

In case you can’t see it, here’s what his (rather long) post says. Translations for Malay phrases are in red, and in brackets:

“I was researching on the halal status of Mr Bean (the food outlet, not the comedy/cartoon), and I saw a bunch of Muslim netizens enquiring from the admin on its halal status:

Rephrased for simplicity:
MN: Is Mr Bean halal-certified?
Mr B: No, we’re not, but we do not have pork, lard or gelatin.
MN: *goes into syarahan (lecturing) mode* Halal is not just about yada yada, halal is also yada yada.
Mr B: We are looking into it (MUIS halal), but we need your support.

Ok fair enough. At this point, I appreciate Mr Bean’s patience in attending to these queries.

MN: Are your chicken/meat products halal-certified?
Mr B: Yes they are.
MN: Could you show them?
Mr B: Alright, we’ll PM you.
*PM done and verified*

Ok, they took an extra mile to prove their genuineness in serving the Muslim requirements. Commendable.

MN to MN: The meat is halal from overseas supplier.
MN to MN: I’m not confident ah. I want MUIS halal certification. Skrg macam2 penipuan, seram ah. (Now it seems like a scam, scared ah.)

At the end of reading, I was quite disturbed. What’s with us Muslims? It’s one thing to observe our food intake (it’s fine and principally important) but it’s another thing to behave like a jerk online with people.

To fellow Muslims, please understand this: /Food companies don’t owe you a living./

Kalau suka benda tu dan rasa tak halal (on whatever account), maknanya ragu. Kalau ragu, sebaiknya jangan makan. Jangan pula nak corner company online utk kena apply MUIS cert segala after you’ve ‘interrogated’ them thoroughly.

(If you like the item and feel it’s not halal (on whatever account), it means you have doubts. If you have doubts, then it’s better not to eat. Don’t corner the company online to apply for the full MUIS cert after you’ve ‘interrogated’ them thoroughly.)

I’m holding on to the same principle with regard to the Subway issue too.

Kalau dapat, alhamdulillah. Tak dapat, sudah. Tak perlu gaduh atau biadab dgn org over food.

(If have, then thank God. If not, that’s the end of it. There’s no need to fight or be rude with people over food.)

What is supposedly a practice that leads to a sense of warak (a heightened consciousness to stay away from the impermissible) ends up becoming a demanding behaviour that’s merely driven by a desire to satiate personal food cravings.”

Earlier reference

Arif posted this on Feb. 14, 2018, but it’s possible he was referring to this particular exchange between Mr Bean Singapore and a person named Hera Wati in 2013:

The discussion that ensued included the following comments, including responses from Mr Bean back then:

 

The comments in the post match Arif’s description, including:

  • Mr Bean’s assertion that their products don’t have pork, lard or gelatin.
  • Mr Bean sending a personal message to a commenter with details of their food products being halal-certified.
  • Mr Bean confirming that their outlets do not have MUIS’s halal certification, but they are looking into it.

If this is indeed the post that Arif is referring to, then it’s a little out of date because it appears Mr Bean might have discontinued selling hotdogs.

They advertised hotdogs back in Feb. 2014, and we have seen them selling at its Dover MRT outlet as recently as in January, but their current menu online does not include them:

Well-received

That said, Arif’s post seems to have struck a chord with netizens:

Screen shot from Facebook.
Screen shot from Facebook.
Screen shot from Facebook.

His take is a timely one, given the recent controversy over Subway’s purported plans to obtain halal certification from MUIS.

His line “food companies don’t owe you a living” is also pertinent.

Whether or not a company decides to apply for MUIS halal certification, it is ultimately a business decision.

It’s a lengthy process that can be quite costly, as the company has to ensure that its equipment is up to standard. Their staff, a minimum of two or three of whom involved in preparing food must be Muslim, are trained accordingly.

As of Sept. 2017, MUIS’s Twitter account for halal certification inquiries confirms that Mr Bean is not yet MUIS halal-certified:

Whether or not Mr Bean ends up getting Halal certification, Arif’s words certainly offer some food for thought.

Related stories:

I’m Malay Muslim & I don’t really care if Subway goes halal or not

Talk of Subway going halal in S’pore greeted with cheers & jeers

Top image from Mr Bean Singapore.

About Sulaiman Daud

Sulaiman believes that we can be heroes, if just for one day. His favourite Doctor is Peter Capaldi's Twelve, and he lives according to the teachings of Jürgen Klopp. He also writes about film and pop-culture, which you are very welcome to read here.

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