Regulators in Malaysia are trying to make something clear to food consumers: Hot dogs do not have dog meat in them.
According to The Associated Press, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department, a religious regulatory authority, has asked the U.S. company to change the name of its popular “pretzel dog” frankfurter wrapped in pretzel bread in order to obtain official halal certification.
The department’s director, Sirajuddin Suhaimee, said the name might cause “confusion,” reported the BBC.
“In Islam, dogs are considered unclean and the name cannot be related to halal certification,” he said. The AP reported Suhaimee suggested to local media that “It is more appropriate to use the name ‘pretzel sausage.’ ”
According to halal guidelines posted by the Malaysian government in 2014, “products which use the name or synonymous names with nonhalal products or confusing terms such as ham … bacon, beer, rum, hotdog, charsiew and the like” are not eligible for halal certification in Malaysia.
Neither are “products that can lead to … superstition and deception.”
Farhatul Kamilah Mohamed Sazali, a quality assurance executive at Auntie Anne’s Malaysia, posted on Facebook that she had suggested alternative names for the pretzel dog and was waiting to hear back from regulators, noting that the company would need to change its menu displays before any name change could take effect in Malaysia.
The BBC reported that Malaysian Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz was not happy with the decision of halal regulators.
“Even in Malay it’s called hot dog,” he said. “It’s been around for so many years. I’m a Muslim and I’m not offended. Please do not make us seem stupid and backward.”
This is not the first American fast food chain to rename its frankfurters in order to operate in the Malaysian market. The menu for A&W, known in the U.S. for its root beer, calls its signature drink “RB” on its Malaysian menu, and hot dogs go by the name “coneys.”