by Anna Kong
Samyang Foods Co., Ltd’s Buldakbokeummyeon – Hot Chicken Ramen – also known as Fire Noodles has just been verified Halal – again. On the Halal Korea Facebook page, they claimed to have received confirmation from Korea Muslim Federation (KMF) themselves.
Last week, an FB user (Feeza) posted screenshots concerning the issue of the Halal status, which went viral and in turn sparked confusion and anger amongst the Malaysian Muslim community. Over the Internet, thousands of Muslims had taken up the Korean Fire Noodle Challenge, where people share videos of themselves eating the Buldakbok– on a second note let’s just use the English translation because it’s just impossible to pronounce – Hot Chicken Ramen. Feeling betrayed and lied to due to the issue; they swarmed JAKIM, KMF and Halal Korea (FB) demanding immediate verification and reevaluation.
SYUBHAH IN ISLAMIC CONTEXT
In the screenshots, the Korean writings translate to ‘produced with machines that process products containing pork’. From my understanding, for Muslims, this falls into the Syubhah, – meaning doubtful – category, where foods might contain residue or traces of non-halal ingredients, but carry neither taste nor smell of said ingredients. By right, Muslims are not allowed to consume the food unless there are no better (Halal-verified) choices available.
Even overseas, where Halal food is rarer to come by, and even rarer to have them verified, Muslims must try to find authentic Halal ingredients, from plants and condiments all the way to meat products. In some schools of thoughts (Mazhab) it is permissible to eat certain foods as long as there are no apparent non-halal items included and you are confident it is indeed Halal.
KMF VERIFIED SAMYANG’S HALAL STATUS
Rest assured, the KMF has shared a list of Halal products from Samyang and the Hot Chicken Ramen – both cup and big bowl versions – are amongst them. KMF also confirmed that the company (Samyang) produced the Halal version of the noodles (exclusively for export purposes) separately from the non-halal versions; hence they most definitely do not use the same machineries. Further updates also mention that Samyang has a separate factory in Busan for producing their Halal products, which explains why the noodles are very costly.
The mistake began at the first stage of exportation when the import company, thinking that consumers might prefer the products being in their original packaging with Korean characters, ordered them to be exported from Korea in stock (ready-made) packaging. This caused the clash between the Halal logo (added in) in front and the doubtful information on the ingredients section (original Korean packaging).
Honestly though, I don’t blame the import company, – they were right; it did attract attention, especially from the K-pop Korean culture fans. Not pointing fingers here though, it’s simply a misunderstanding that has been cleared up fairly quickly by KMF. If you insist on putting the blame on somebody though, I suggest you blame the Hallyu Wave in Malaysia, aka I-love-everything-Korean attitude our youth possess. The importer simply took advantage of the situation, – and provided them what they love most.
LATEST PACKAGING PRINTED IN ENGLISH
After many issues raised, the import company and Samyang had decided to keep the Korean characters in front, but switched other information sections into English. Now, the updated ingredients section mention ‘manufactured in a facility that also processes fish, egg, milk and shellfish’, in case you’re allergic.
In fact, they are already being sold in stores across Malaysia. Go get em!
HAVE FAITH IN HALAL FEDERATIONS
No organizations is 100% effective or correct, including those doing research on Halal statuses. Even JAKIM had faults, – remember the SUSHI KING case? Or Secret Recipe? My point is these organisations are there to help Muslims recognize Halal items and foods around the world, not only in Malaysia. They exist to ease your concerns whenever you go food-hunting. So have more faith in them.
Not to mention, Korea has progressed further – in many ways than one – than Malaysia, thus I’m sure their ethics in passing the Halal status are not to be reckoned with either.
So fellow Muslims, you can now enjoy your Fire Noodles without the slightest worry – at least not until after December 30th this year, because that’s when the Halal validity for the noodles expires. Worry then.
“Anna Kong is the newbie Jack of All Trades. She has a black hole for a tummy and goes food-hunting at night. Some claim she’s an actual vampire due to her nocturnal stalk-lurking for sassy issues. Contact her at email@example.com”