New Zealand Natural – Halal or Not?

UPDATE 3: Still no updates from NZ Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. on the halal certification of their products. An unidentified rep from the company claims JAKIM has no jurisdiction over imported foodstuffs. While I find this disturbing (how do we know if imported consumables are halal?), the obvious lack of understanding from the rep is even more worrying. I hope they will have an answer soon.

UPDATE: Received a reply from NZ Malaysia Sdn. Bhd., the importers, distributors and marketers of New Zealand Natural ice creams in Malaysia. Check out the reply published in verbatim after the jump.

Have you heard of the ice cream chain New Zealand Natural?

They got really good ice cream and I especially like the sundae they call Wickedly Chocolate. With scoops upon scoops of Choc Fudge Brownie and Chocolate Ecstasy ice cream, it is truly a chocolate lover’s delight.

Funny thing happened to me last Wednesday and it got me slightly worried as to the halal’ness of this ice cream chain.

That day, Narisha and I had our berbuka at Manhattan Fish Market in Ikano, after berbuka I had a hankering for some chocolate and headed for NZN. Not sure what I wanted exactly, I went on to ask the salesgirl for some samples.

I recalled first asking to taste their Cookies and Cream and then I asked for a spoon of NZN’s Green Tea ice cream. Then the salesgirl asked me a very odd question. She said, “are you muslim?”.

Perplexed, I said, “yes”.

But that’s not the funny part. What’s funny was she then explained that most of the ice cream from NZN contained alcohol. Including the green tea.

Come to think of it, it’s more bizarre than funny.

Usually with ice cream I don’t think twice about it being halal or not, this is simply derived from my assumption that ice cream is mainly made out of dairy products and flavouring which is generally considered safe for Muslim consumption.

After she said that, I looked around the ice cream parlour and found no halal logo displayed. This got me rather worried.

As a boy growing up, I was taught that when you are in doubt (was-was) of whether a food item is halal or not, then you shoul consider it as haram or not halal.

What the girl said made me doubt the halal’ness of NZN but on the other hand I also doubt that most of the chain’s ice cream contains alcohol as they would have to consider children being one of their main customers.

It’s pretty obvious alcohol is not good for kids.

So to confirm is this is true or not I’ve drop NZN Malaysia and JAKIM an email each to see if they can clear my doubt once and for all.

Will update if I get any reply from them.

In the meantime I found this useful information resource on reports sent to JAKIM to confirm or deny the halal status of some of the more popular restaurants and other food and beverage outlets in the country.

Most reports were generated from chain mails claiming certain products are not halal. If you’ve been getting these kind of emails regularly, do check out the Halal Development Corporation reports section.

You can also send in your own report here.

Have you had such an experience? Comment me.

Reply received from NZ Malaysia, published verbatim. I’m happy to have received such a prompt reply with clear answers. Though unfortunately I will have to defer from eating NZN ice creams until they receive their halal certification from JAKIM.

NZ Malaysia Sdn. Bhd.: No hard feelings and keep up the good work. Do update me once you’ve received your certification.

Dear Amin,

Thank you for your email.

We note your concerns raised and would like to assure you that our staff member has conveyed the wrong message to you.

We clarify the issues raised as follows:

1. Worldwide, New Zealand Natural does offer some flavours with alcohol content but these flavours are NOT retailed in Malaysia. These flavours are clearly labelled as containing alcohol on their flavour labels. For the record, our Rum & Raisin does not contain alcohol but instead uses a rum-flavoured extract that is non-alcohol in origin.
2. Our products have not been certified halal as the factory did not see the need to have the certification done. Having said that, with the brand’s impending expansion into halal markets, the factory has commenced preparations to have their production line and products certified halal. Nevertheless, at this point in time, we can confirm that our products do not contain any animal-derived materials except for milk, cream and egg yolk. All the stabilisers and emulsifiers used in the New Zealand Natural range are derived from naturally-occurring plant/vegetable materials and do not contain any animal fats or gelatine.
3. We expect this halal-certification process to be completed by year-end.

We hope that this email clarifies any doubts that you may have in relation to this issue. Should you require further information, please feel free to contact us.

Thank you.

Kevin Khong Yao Lung
Executive Director
NZ Natural Sdn Bhd (659630-D)

Tel: +60 3 7726 8090
Fax: +60 3 7726 8091


Here’s my email to them just in care you’re interested.

Dear New Zealand Natural,

I am a fan of your ice cream ever since I tried your Wickedly Chocolate sundae a year back. I regularly frequent your parlour at Ikano Power Center and was shocked when I was informed by one of your salespersons there that most of your ice creams contained alcohol.

This is a rather serious allegation as I notice that NZN is popular among all Malaysians including those of the Muslim faith. Though I doubt that this is the case I would appreciate if you can clarify this.

Related to this matter I would also like to request that NZN verify that all your ice creams are halal and safe for Muslim consumption.

As a responsible corporate citizen you should consider the implications of retailing food products that contain alcohol as the remifications don’t just affect Muslims but those who make a consious decision to abstain from consuming alcohol altogether.

I seek your prompt and immediate response on this matter.

Thank you,
Amin Ashaari

Moral of the story. Everyone, look before you eat.

UPDATE 2: Kevin Khong, Executive Director NZ Natural Sdn Bhd confirmed via an email that New Zealand Natural ice cream will receive halal certification in November 2008 if not earlier. So come November keep a look out for the JAKIM/HDC halal logo at NZN outlets. Also, thanks Kevin for the prompt replies and updates.


8 Responses to “New Zealand Natural – Halal or Not?”

  1. September 23, 2008 at 10:34 AM

    aisheh, this is one of me & my wife fav ice cream stall!

    [Amin says] Bro Rudy, NZ Natural Sdn Bhd has confirmed that New Zealand Natural ice creams will be certified halal by November 2008 if not earlier. I look forward to that. Will try to update on this.

  2. 2 J.H
    September 23, 2008 at 7:50 PM

    funny. after being around so long BAAARU nak cert halal? hm. look at the fineprint of that sign in nov.. (below the jawi lettering: certified by JAKIM and Amin Ashaari). lol

    good on ya bro =)

    [Amin says] Tu la pasal! What the hell these JAKIM people doing la. On top of having halal logo they should also make it compulsory for non-halal joints to display non-halal signage as clear as day. Sheesh.

    Well at the good ice cream will be halal. :)

  3. 3 J.H
    September 24, 2008 at 2:43 PM

    i’m thinking along the lines of the jawi H R M to indicate the non-halalness outside such biz premises..hmmm.. !

  4. 4 Karen
    February 12, 2009 at 3:37 AM

    Here is the thing– most of the food you eat that is in any way prepared, including ice cream, has a flavor in it. The flavor itself is not always halal. Alcohol is a common (and convenient) solvent– it’s difficult to get the other components of flavors to dissolve into other solvents– so that is probably the part that is not halal. That’s why you may get a bag of chips, or a piece of candy, or anything that has “flavor” (natural or artificial) on the ingredient list that is NOT halal– chances are that the flavor contains alcohol. That doesn’t mean it will hurt you or children or anyone else, and nobody will get drunk from it; it’s harmless, except from a religious standpoint.

  5. March 10, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    Dear En Amin,

    Thank you for the article and for updating it with the feedback received from us.

    We wish to correct several inconsistencies in your post.

    Firstly, New Zealand Natural cannot be classified “halal” by JAKIM as JAKIM’s jurisdiction only covers products that are MADE IN MALAYSIA. As our ice creams are fully-imported from New Zealand, the appropriate authority to confirm our halal-status would be the halal association of New Zealand. JAKIM’s scope does not cover imported products.

    Secondly, there is a difference between a product that is clearly not-halal and one that has yet to be certified halal. We hope your readers are able to differentiate this. We confirm that NONE of our ice creams contain alcohol (it would be plain ridiculous if they did!) and that the particular staff member was obviously out to discredit our brand.

    Please do contact us should you have any further enquiries. Thank you.

    [Amin Ashaari says]
    Hello whoever you are from NZNSB.

    You can clarify all you want, the bottom line is Muslims in this country want halal certification for everything that they eat and your ice cream doesn’t have that – period.

    Fine if your ice cream is not certified halal by JAKIM but is it certified halal from the country that it’s produced? Can you clarify and offer consistencies so that my readers and I can make the differentiation?

    Also, as a representative from NZNSB I’d expect some common courtesy from you. At least have the decency to tell me who you are and what you do. Its basic customer service. Plus, most people won’t deal with strangers – and to me, you are one.

    Evidently, you possess poor understanding of what constitutes as halal. It’s not difficult to acquire a basic, fundamental understanding of the concept. All you have to do it just google it.

    Allow me to correct several inconsistencies in your reply.

    I agree that there is a distinct difference between non-halal and not being halal certified BUT you have to understand that in Islam, if there is doubt in the state of the food (on whether it is halal or not) then it is regarded as haram.

    The consumption of alcohol is just one proponent of the concept of halal in Islam. Can you please clarify and confirm that the emulsifies, stabilizers and the like, are of halal origin?

    Can you also update us on the status of the halal certification process that Mr. Kevin Khong Yao Lung, your Executive Director, mentioned in writing via email, will be completed by end 2008.

    By the way, Baskin Robins Malaysia confirms that the imported ice creams that they sell are certified halal.

    I look forward to a reply from you soon.

  6. April 23, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    Any updates about this halal certificate ? From their promise, it should be around Nov 08. Now is already April 09, I checked out their website and still there’s no news about this.

    [Amin Ashaari says]
    Hi, thanks for dropping by. Still no updates from NZNSB. I’ve sent them another email to find out what’s the status. Hope to get a reply from them soon. it.

    • 7 Sam B
      May 5, 2009 at 1:57 AM

      Wow, I’m so glad I came across this website. I’d like to tell you of my experience with a sales staff at NZ Natural in Ikano. As my husband and I are very particular about the halal status of food, we were a bit skeptical to buy from the stall even though they were having a sale at the moment because no halal certification was evident. We asked one of the staff which from her outward appearance was a non-Malay or Muslim, and she told us of course it’s halal because it doesn’t contain alcohol. Now here are a few things that both amuses and worries us about the answer:

      1) She is assuming that only alcohol in the ingredient is haram. What about animal fat, even that from beef which is not slaughtered according to Muslim rites?

      2) Alcohol is present and vital in the extraction process of natural vanilla, which is used by almost all of the world’s premium ice cream labels such as Haagen Dasz. It is the percentage of alcohol present that matters, whether or not it is permissible can be viewed through edicts. Therefore, whoever it is from NZ Natural that replied in the comment section is either completely oblivious to this fact, which would make him or her incompetent as a staff of the company, or the company uses cheap, fake stuff on their ice-cream, thus really not justifying their “all-natural” claim.

      3) So many other ingredients in the ice cream can cause it to become haram, such as the type of whey and emulsifiers used and the presence of mono or di-glycerides and so on.

      4) I am disturbed by the fact that the company did not see the importance of announce the halal status of its products unless it sees how it will affect the market.

      5) The anonymous rep from the company claims that Jakim cannot give halal certification for its products, so I am wondering why this is:

      Also brother Amin, as a gentle reminder, I would check into the Halal certification of Manhattan Fish Market. A chef (now a friend of mine) at the restaurant has told me that beer, non-halal soy sauce and several other non-halal seasonings have been used in the cooking and seasoning process. I’m unsure if the situation has changed. May Allah protect our flesh from all that is haram.

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