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Pig DNA in Cadbury bars: What you need to know

Chocolate maker Cadbury on Saturday (May 24) recalled two of their products in Malaysia after they tested positive for traces of pig DNA, even though they had been certified as halal and pork-free.

WHAT'S GOING ON?

Cadbury Malaysia recalled two batches of their chocolates on Saturday (May 24) after being informed by Malaysia’s Health Ministry that they tested positive for traces of porcine DNA, even though they had been certified as halal and pork-free.

The affected chocolates are Cadbury Dairy Milk Hazelnut with batch number 200813M01H I2 that expire on Nov 13, 2014, and Cadbury Dairy Milk Roast Almond with batch number 221013N01R I1 with the expiration date Jan 15, 2015. These chocolates were made in Malaysia and have been withdrawn from the market.

They were found to have traces of the DNA after Malaysian health officials conducted random checks in February, on Cadbury bars from the northern states of Kedah and Perlis. Results were only available in May and the report was leaked online before authorities could inform parties concerned. Even Malaysia’s Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam found out about it through social media.

WHAT HAS THE REACTION BEEN?

“They stuffed pigs into our mouths, then apologised. This cannot be allowed,” said Mr Azwanddin Hamzah, the president of Malay activist group Jaringan Melayu Malaysia, who has announced plans to sue Cadbury.

Other Muslim groups have declared “jihad” on Cadbury. The Secretary-General for the Islamic Information and Services Foundation Sabariah Adbullah said some people are so angry, they feel like the company should pay Muslims to have their blood cleansed. “We feel like we have been contaminated," she said.

Cadbury Malaysia posted a statement on Facebook, saying “We hear the Muslim community’s need for a resolution.” It promised to work closely with authorities to make sure its products are compliant with halal guidelines and said it will be conducting its own tests.

HOW DID PIG DNA GET INTO CHOCOLATE BARS IN THE FIRST PLACE?

It is uncertain how pig DNA got into the affected chocolate. Online speculation has thrown up a range of theories – from the emulsifiers used, to the imported nuts, or whether Cadbury had changed suppliers. However, both the Malaysian Ministry of Health and the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) have not confirmed this. They said they are conducting thorough investigations and are making the incident a priority.

ARE OTHER TYPES OF CHOCOLATE CLEARED FOR CONSUMPTION?

For now, only the Cadbury Dairy Milk original chocolates have been cleared of traces of porcine DNA. Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut, Black Forest and other assortments have yet to be tested, and are still on supermarket shelves. Cadbury Malaysia said its other products made in Malaysia are not affected. Malaysia’s Health Minister has promised to step up checks, not just on Cadbury, but on other brands of food products as well.

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