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Halal and the Tom Yam set

May 7, 2008

Cropped image of labelI don’t know if you guys have been forwarded with a chain e-mail with the title, Beware of Tom Yam Set, or something like that. I have received a number of times from, should I say, all four corners of the world. Maybe if the penguins in the Arctic could send emails, I would have received from them too.

Seriously, Halal or its opposite, Haram, are sensitive issues. Halal (حلال, ḥ alāl , halaal ) is an Arabic term meaning “permissible”. Its halal to have body contacts once you are married; its halal when the food we eat are from sources that Muslims know where it’s origin is from, etc.

Now this Tom Yam set e-mail said to be aware with the paste that comes along with the package. Its readily available in major supermarkets, go check them out now before they are being withdrawn because of this issue. The e-mail said the paste contains a label, clearly printed as (excused the English from the label): ‘DIRECTIONS: Mix in any kind of food and soup for hot flavour. Spread [could’t be seen]…the bread, dip crisp rice sheets, pork cracklings’.

Yes, pork was mentioned there. This is where the confusion and flurry of e-mails start. I replied to one of the e-mail rounds, saying that, maybe what was actually meant was that the paste could be used as a dip for rice sheets and pork cracklings, not that the paste contain pork as you can see from the ingredients. Pork cracklings is by the way, the skin of pig made as a snack. 

I hope I have cleared the air there, just be sure to check if there is a ‘Halal’ label in the packet; if it’s not, Muslims, you know the drill.   

Halal is a sensitive issue in Brunei. Recently a popular restaurant was rumoured to have been serving non-Halal pau or buns to its Muslims customers. The restaurant must have really feel the pinch, as expected, as its customers become less and less. It did, as I saw from the local dailies, advertised to explain the situation, which sound like a rebuttal to the rumours. Many years back, a popular brand of bread also suffered the same fate. It took years to build your image and just one second to see its collapse. I don’t want to start speculating that it’s all down to business rivalry? 

Anyway, a simple rule of thumb is if you are unsure, leave it. Like me.

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