Refusing to make a u-turn on the decision that Ajinomoto’s MSG taste enhancer is forbidden under fiqh (Islamic religious law), an official from the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) has suggested that the Japanese company create a new logo under which to market new produce certified as halal.

The company agreed on 23 November last year to use “mameno” instead of pork-derived enzymes as catalysts in the MSG production process, but MUI officials believe it should re-apply for the halal certificate.

KH Masduki Mahfudl, the chairman of the East Java branch of MUI, added: “Personally, I suggest that the taste enhancer producer use a new logo after it gets a new “halal” label from MUI.”

Head of the MUI, Umar Shihab, has called for an end to the issue. He asserted yesterday (11 January) that “MUI will be fair and welcome Ajinomoto if it wants to apply for a “halal” label … only if the product passes certain tests, preconditions and follows the existing regulations.”

He also appealed that there be no public demonstrations over the widely reported difference of opinion between the MUI and the Indonesian President Wahid: “There are times when Muslim leaders have different interpretations on fiqh. Actually the matter has already been resolved and we leave it to the people to decide whether to consume [Ajinomoto’s MSG] or not.”

The legal proceedings against seven executives from the Indonesian subsidiary of Ajinomoto are set to continue, meanwhile. The National Police spokesman, Brig. Gen. Saleh Saaf, revealed that police are investigating violations of Consumer Protection Law No. 8/1999 based on a complaint filed by the Indonesian Consumers Foundation.

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Salef further explained that if found guilty, the men could face a maximum punishment of five years in jail or a Rp2bn fine.