KUCHING: The manufacturer of Golden Churn Creamery Butter, Ballantyne Foods Pty Ltd, maintains that the butter is certified halal.
Its Australian-based regional general manager Hemmat S Nasrallah said the butter was halal despite Sarawak’s insistence that it was haram (forbidden for Muslims).
However, whatever the current status may be, the producer is willing to respect the wishes of the religious authorities in Sarawak and the producer and principal agent of the item will take it out of the Sarawak market.
The peculiarity of the issue was that only Sarawak in the whole of Malaysia had declared the butter haram. In Johor, which sparked the issue, it had cleared the product as halal, Hemmat told a press conference here yesterday.
He was in town to meet Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman only to find out that the minister was not available. Hemmat said he hoped to meet with Daud in a couple of weeks.
Hemmat claimed that it was unfair to the producer when Daud or Sarawak Islamic Religious Department (Jais) did not consult Ballantyne prior to declaring the butter as not halal.
According to Hemmat, they would not even consider the option of taking out the halal logo from the packaging or cans so that they could sell the product to non-Muslims in Sarawak.
He said this option was not taken because they were responsible manufacturer which adhere to standard quality control requirements.
He also claimed their two factories in Australia and New Zealand complied with strict quality control requirement and therefore he was perplexed as to why there was an issue that the creamery butter was haram.
“I’d rather lose money than take out the halal logo from the cans. We are a responsible manufacturer adhering to strict quality control since the past 60 years,” he said, adding that losses could add up to RM5 million if Sarawak continued with its stand.
“As a responsible supplier we have to accept the religious stand and respect the opinion of Jais to take our creamery butter off the shelves.”
However, he said their other products, such as frozen butter from Australia, was cleared from the issue.
He said despite Sarawak’s stand, Brunei and Singapore were still selling the creamery butter after getting negative results from several tests.
Hemmat said it would be up to Malaysian states other than Sarawak if they wanted to follow Sarawak’s stand.
To a query, he denied that the issue could be related to any plot to sabotage them or business rivalry.
“As far as I am concerned, the issue now is not commercial but religious,” he said adding that they would embark on a more aggressive promotional campaign to clear them from the issue.
Hemmat also claimed that he had received emails and comments from Muslim customers that they were upset with the issue at hand in Sarawak. “No need to say about our non-Muslims friends, even our Muslim friends are upset with the issue,” he said.
Also present at yesterday’s conference were Ballantyne’s agent Austar Marketing Sdn Bhd regional manager Tan Chou Tek and area sales manager Chong That Fah.