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'Cadbury jihad' ending as Malaysians say chocolates are pig-free

Faithful Muslims in Indonesia may soon be able to resume snacking on products from candymaker Cadbury after government officials there declared two of the company's Dairy Milk candy bars free of "porcine DNA," which most would call traces of pork.

The move ends what some observers called the "Cadbury jihad" in which Malaysians were urged not to buy the firm's sweets.

"On Monday (June 2), the Malaysian Islamic Development Department said new tests on Dairy Milk Hazelnut and Dairy Milk Roast Almond bars as well as other products taken from Cadbury's factory showed no traces of pork," the Associated Press reported. A food item containing either pork or alcohol would not be considered "halal" under Islamic law, making it difficult to sell in majority-Muslim nations such as Malaysia.

Following the Malaysian declaration, "Cadbury products in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are also currently being tested," the BBC reported. Saudia Arabia, where two of Islam's most holy places, Makkah, birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, and Madinah, his burial place, prides itself on its observance of Islamic law and styles itself as 'Guardian of the Holy Places.' The RT.com news report said the candy being tested by the Saudis "do not come from Malaysia and were imported from other countries — mainly Egypt and the UK."

Indonesia, with an estimated 253.6 million people, is widely regarded as the world's largest Muslim-majority nation. The World Factbook reports 87.2 percent of Indonesians claim Muslim affiliation.

The Jakarta Post reported June 1, "The Indonesian arm of ... confectioner Cadbury says all of its products sold in Indonesia are halal, following the discovery of pork DNA in two of its halal-certified products in Malaysia."

The new tests on Cadbury Dairy Milk Hazelnut and Dairy Milk Roast Almond candy bars followed earlier tests on samples "taken from shops," the BBC reported, that might have been "exposed to porcine DNA after leaving the factory." No explanation was given in media reports as to how the exposure might have taken place. The initial determination was made on May 23 by Malaysia's Ministry of Health.

In the face of what might be welcome news for chocoholics in Kuala Lampur and the rest of Malaysia, an Islamic consumer group remains skeptical, Reuters reports: "'There are still a lot of question marks there,' said Sheikh Abdul Kareem Khadaied, the head of research with the Muslim Consumers Association Malaysia. An official at the health ministry told Reuters that it 'has handed the entire issue over to the Islamic agency.'"

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, Cadbury Malaysia wrote, "We understand how critical halal is to our consumers and how important it is to the ongoing trust in our products."

Some commenters called for a boycott, while others voiced support for Cadbury, which is owned by Illinois-based Mondelēz International.

Email: mkellner@deseretnews.com Twitter: @Mark_Kellner