A vendor prepares instant noodles at a stall in Jakarta

No, Indonesia’s top Islamic authority has not stated four popular food items contain pork

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An online report claims Indonesia’s top Islamic authority, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), has found that a popular instant noodle brand and three food seasonings contain pork. The council told AFP no such warnings have been made, and the products remain approved for consumption by Muslims in the Southeast Asian country.

A posting on website Kumatdata.blogspot.com in May 2017 published an article with a headline that translates as: “These are seasonings that contain and do not contain pork”.

The article claimed a senior MUI had posted a document stating a review of eight widely consumed Indonesian food items had found traces of pork in seasoning from brands Masako, Sasa and Ajinomoto, as well as the Indomie instant noodle label.

The report warned “mothers who like using seasonings” to be careful and choose labels that were halal, meaning food that is prepared according to Muslim law.

Eating pork is forbidden in Islam, the predominant religion in Indonesia.

The MUI issues halal certification for products fit for consumption by Muslims in Indonesia.

The precise date the list was first published is unclear. But identical lists, purportedly from the MUI, were shared at least 35 times in different Facebook posts in July 2018, according to an AFP search on the social media platform.

Similar versions of the list have circulated for years.

An MUI document updated in August 2018 shows that all four brands alleged to contain pork have halal certification. 

The deputy secretary-general of the council, Nadjamuddin Ramly, also told AFP the Kumatdata report was false.

“That’s fake news. The MUI central board has never issued any statement like [it],” he said.

“We have denied making such statement many times in the past. But there seem to be some parties that continue to spread the claim, as if it was from the MUI central board.”

Media groups have reported on the MUI's previous denials, including in 2016 and 2017

In addition, Indonesia’s food and drug monitoring agency, known as BPOM, issued a statement on December 30, 2016, in response to the false reports stating the products met halal standards.

The statement has an attachment identifying halal approved brands that lists the four mentioned in the false report.

Spokeswoman Nelly Rachman told AFP that its 2016 statement and references to Masako, Sasa, Ajinomoto and Indomie being approved as halal remained current.

"Yes, it's still valid," she told AFP on August 14.