The Truth: Calcium propionate is the common preservative used by bakeries worldwide. The allowable usage amount is different from country to country. In Malaysia, the permitted amount is 2,000 parts per million (ppl).
Base on regular tests conducted by independent labs, Gardenia Bakeries (KL) Sdn Bhd [GBKL] uses ONLY 20% of the permitted amount, the lowest amongst the major wholesale sandwich bread manufacturers. The hygienic environment of GBKL factories contribute to the products shelf-life.
Gardenia is being attacked again, this time it's the preservative factor, thus 'attracting' consumers of all religions & races.
Before, there was another rumor flying around about lard being one of the ingredients of the bread, which was later squashed as baseless attempt to sabotage the company. Gardenia even have their very own special Halal committee.
The question now is, should we forward the next email declaring a product as unsafe or 'non-halal' if we are not sure of the authenticity of the story. Bear in mind even those letters by Jakim can be falsified by certain parties. Such emails at least a decade old are still making rounds, just like the one on Starbuck containing non-halal flavoring, got that one in my inbox last week. And the one on QBB? It's back too.
If later the accusation are proven false, how many of us send out retraction chain-mail? How many of those that we sent to do the same to those they sent out to?
Most of us are too happy to share that 'non-halal' status, but quite reluctant to do the reverse. We see it as a social responsibility to make sure our Muslim brothers and sister consume only halal product, but what about the businesses and livelihoods of fellow Muslims and their family that are affected due to the rumors. Remember the whole Golden Churn butter fiasco? I was told it originated from feuds between Sarawak layer cakes maker, which was perfectly timed just before Aidilfitri. And how many went out of business because of this last Ramadan? How many are able to make a comeback?
And another thing I am quite curious about is the Jakim non-halal declarations. What are the procedures that they take to release letters declaring product so-and-so contains traces of porcine origin. Is it based on just one sample brought in by complainant (who pretty well be a possible saboteur) or do they take multiple random samples from various places? Too many products has been declared 'non-halal' only to have it retracted later, and this has led to too many confusions & 'was was'.
Not many know that Gardenia is owned by Tan Sri Mukhtar al-Bukhary via Bernas, a Muslim Malay philanthropist who is very well known for his 'silent-no-fanfare' donations. Another little know fact, the latest entry in the bread loaves industry in Malaysia is owned by the Sugar King of Malaysia who is also the owner of FFM Berhad. And the story about this 2 companies my friend, is a whole another story, requiring another blog entry.