Malaysian posts falsely claim fast-food chains' halal certification revoked

  • Published on June 3, 2024 at 10:44
  • Updated on June 5, 2024 at 11:50
  • 3 min read
  • By AFP Malaysia

Neither the US government nor the South Africa-based Muslim Judicial Council "cancelled the halal certification" of various American fast-food chains, as falsely claimed by social media users in Malaysia. The chains -- McDonald's, KFC, Domino's, Pizza Hut and Starbucks -- all hold halal certification in Muslim-majority Malaysia that is valid until 2026.

"With the halal certification cancellation by the US government itself, McDonald's, KFC, Domino's, Pizza Hut and Starbucks have become non-halal now," read part of a lengthy Malay-language Facebook post shared on May 6, 2024.

More than 60 percent of Malaysians are Muslims who must adhere to halal dietary standards, which prohibits certain foods (archived link).

The Facebook post also said the fast-food chains had their certificates revoked by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and the International Qur'anic Studies Association (IQSA).

The MJC is a non-profit organisation based in South Africa and the IQSA is a network of scholars based in Atlanta, in the US state of Georgia (archived links here and here).

The post includes an image showing the halal logo of the Islamic Services of America (ISA), a certification and auditing body in the United States and North America (archived link).

Screenshot of the false Facebook post, captured on May 31, 2024

Similar claims were shared elsewhere on Facebook here, here and here

It surfaced against the background of the war in Gaza, which was triggered by Hamas's unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7 that resulted in the deaths of 1,190 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also abducted some 250 people, Israelis and foreigners, 120 of whom are still held captive in Gaza, including 37 the military says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 36,430 people, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

Brands including McDonald's, KFC and Starbucks have faced boycotts in Malaysia for their perceived support of Israel, Nikkei Asia reported (archived link). 

But the chains have not had their halal certificates revoked.

Halal certification

An Islamic Services of America representative told AFP in an email that the US government has no jurisdiction over halal matters, and so "does not revoke Halal certifications".

They said there are is no requirement in the United States for restaurants to be halal certified or to serve halal products, and none of the establishments named in the posts are halal certified in the country.

They added that their logo was added to the false posts without their authorisation.

The Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust -- a subsidiary of South Africa's MJC -- also told AFP that it did not revoke the chains' halal certification and it "is not responsible for certification in the USA" (archived link).

Valid certification

Foreign companies seeking halal certification in Malaysia must apply to JAKIM -- the Malaysian government's agency responsible for Islamic affairs.

According to records from its certification division Halal MalaysiaMcDonald's, KFC, Domino's, Pizza Hut and Starbucks have halal certificates valid until at least 2026 (archived links here, here, here, here and here).

AFP has debunked similar religious misinformation circulating in Malaysia about the halal status of brands here, here, and here.

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