TIME Food & Drinks

Malaysian Restaurants Are Being Told to Call Hot Dogs Something Else

Mohd Rasfan—AFP/Getty Images An employee cooks burgers and hotdogs at a roadside stall in Karak, outside Kuala Lumpur, on Oct. 18, 2016

Religious authorities say the term is not Islamic

Food outlets with hot dogs to sell in Malaysia are facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions: they may soon need to call their hot dogs something else.

The guidance comes from the vice president of the country’s consumer watchdog, the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations, as he responded to news that the country’s franchise of American pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s could not receive halal certification unless its “pretzel dog” is renamed as “pretzel sausage.”

The term root beer has also been deemed unacceptable since 2009, because of Islam’s prohibition on alcohol — even though root beer contains no alcohol.

Even though the food sold at the outlet is halal, an inappropriate name is not suitable,” said Mohd. Yusof Abdul Rahman, according to the Free Malaysia Today website.

The Star newspaper reported Tuesday that the recommendations made by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, also known as Jakim, had gone viral on Malaysian social media after an executive at Auntie Anne’s Malaysia posted the news Monday on Facebook.

“It is more appropriate to use the name ‘Pretzel Sausage’,” Jakim’s halal-division director Sirajuddin Suhaimee said, according to the Star.

Many Muslims consider dogs unclean and refrain from drinking alcohol, but the term hot dog in reference to the food item has been used in Malaysia for a long time.

Jakim later clarified that this does not mean Auntie Anne’s would fall under the nonhalal category of food outlets.

The decision and recommendation has sparked considerable backlash among Malaysians, including activist Marina Mahathir, daughter of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who snarked on Facebook, “Oh we poor easily confused Muslims who have never heard of hot dogs before … will have no choice but to buy one if one was on the menu.

— With reporting by Yenni Kwok

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team