Putrajaya Wants To Enforce A Trolley Segregation Law For Non-Halal Items In Shopping Malls

It's also considering different checkout counters for halal and non-halal products.

Cover image via The Star Online

Newly appointed Minister of the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Hamzah Zainudin is considering a proposal to enforce a law that will make compulsory the segregation of trolleys for halal and non-halal food items in shopping malls, reports TMI

Hamzah (front) says his Ministry wants to enforce a law segregating trolleys for halal and non-halal food items.

Image via The Malaysian Insider

According to Hamzah, who was formerly the Deputy Foreign Minister, the move was to make sure that Muslims would not have to "worry" if the goods they bought had mixed with non-halal items

"The ministry plans to make special regulations so that people could differentiate the trolleys for use with non-halal products," Hamzah was quoted as saying in Utusan Malaysia, adding that, "the segregation can be done with non-halal products using a red trolley while halal food items using another coloured trolley".

"This law is the best way to put an end to the doubts of consumers but research has to be carried out as it involves a huge amount of money. Although supermarkets have their own policies, we want the law to be standardised for the good of the consumers."

To create a larger segregation, the government might also seek to have different checkout counters for halal and non-halal products

Hamzah said supermarket proprietors also have to ensure that they prepare a special check-out counter for non-halal products. "This is because there are consumers paying for non-halal food items at regular counters. This has led to doubts and problems among Muslim consumers," he was reported as saying.

Meanwhile, the Ministry's trolley segregation plan already has the backing of the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA) and Muslim Consumers' Association (PPIM)

Shoppers at a hypermarket in Taman Midah, Cheras.

Image via The Star Online

FOMCA's Deputy President, however, said that Putrajaya must look into the practicality of such a proposal, adding that the association agreed with the idea, especially to prevent the mixing of halal and non-halal products, which could lead to cross-contamination

According to Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman, the issue of halal or permitted by Islamic law could arise if both halal and non-halal items came into contact in trolleys.

"There is no issue when it comes to dry food items, but it will be if it is fresh. For Muslims, this is a sensitive matter," he told The Malaysian Insider.

"But, look at the practicality aspect, too. If it is difficult to use trolley maybe shoppers can use baskets instead. The baskets can be placed at the non-halal section and later put inside the trolley."

He said no issue would arise as long as there was no direct contact between fresh food items, such as pork, with the trolleys. He also said that while most people did not mind, it could become a problem if some started to complain.

Yusof said the issue arose because of the increase of awareness among Muslims.

"The awareness of the halal-related issue has increased among Muslims, that's why when it comes to stuff like this, they are concerned," The Malaysian Insider quoted him as saying.

On the other hand, Muslim Consumers' Association's Nadzim Johan welcomed the plan saying that it would teach Malaysians to respect restrictions and needs of people from different races and religions

"It is a good suggestion as it will educate society to understand restriction and needs of people from different races and religions. It may seem small but can make Muslims uncomfortable. Just like the instance of putting a dog in a trolley," he said, referring to a case that went viral recently where a shopper was photographed placing her pet dog in a supermarket trolley. It ended up with the local mosque committee scrubbing all the store’s trolleys to ensure they were hygienic, plus being safe to use for Muslim customers.

Nadzim said people would not view the proposal as some kind of restriction, if they understood the reasons behind the need to implement it. "Most of us don't understand and take it for granted. Even the Muslims don't really understand the issue. So, it is better for us to segregate it," he said, adding that the association has received several complaints on the matter.

Nadzim said it was necessary as some mall operators even placed non-halal items at the halal section, adding that if implemented, operators would profit, especially those targeting Muslims

"Sometimes, they sell cat foods which are not halal or brush made out of boar bristles at the halal section, so the level of understanding must be improved. Without them realising it, some non-halal items are place at the halal section."

When asked how this would affect operating cost for malls, he said operators would profit, especially those targeting Muslims.

"Supermarkets that follow (the proposal) will receive more support, like places with Surau will get more support from the Muslims. I think it is a positive move."
Image via ST

The proposal, if carried out, would represent yet another uptick in rising Islamic conservatism in Malaysia led by government officials

Recently, there has been several cases in Malaysia of non-Muslim women being prevented by security guards from entering some government departments unless they were "appropriately dressed". There was a case as recently as last week when a toddler was denied treatment at two government clinics and a public hospital because his mother and aunt were deemed to be "inappropriately dressed".

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