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Ikea staff carrying out the 'samak' cleansing exercise
Ikea staff carrying out the ‘samak’ cleansing exercise at the restaurant kitchen recently. —Picture courtesy of Ikea
The Exit Cafe was closed to allow cleaning of its premises. — Picture by Nik Rosli Ishak
Roszalena Mashurdin says Ikea management has decided to stopped dealing with the supplier
News Straits Times 25/5/11
Title: The food section at Ikea is scheduled to reopen today after an Islamic purification exercise
KOTA DAMANSARA: The food section at Ikea Damansara is scheduled to re-open today after a temporary closure last week following the revoking of one of its food suppliers' halal certification by the Islamic Development Department (Jakim).
The supplier who had been distributing chicken sausages was found to have in their possession manufactured goods with traces of pork.
Following the discovery, Ikea Retail Malaysia temporarily closed its restaurant last Saturday to facilitate the samak exercise, which is an Islamic purification method to cleanse oneself or things which had been in contact with pork.
Ikea sales manager Roszalena Mashurdin, when approached by Streets, said the samak exercise was carried out voluntarily by the management to dispel doubts on the halal validation of its food, particularly for the benefit of its Muslim customers and staff.
Roszalena said the samak exercise was among the recommendations by Jakim after it revoked the supplier's halal certification on May 3.
Roszalena said the food supplier, which had been supplying frozen chicken sausages, foot-long turkey sausages and chicken to Ikea since 2001, had earlier been certified halal and was approved by the religious authority.
Since the revocation of the halal certificate, Ikea management has stopped dealing with the supplier as the latter had breached Ikea's food and beverage contract.
She added the food outlet will re-open as usual today with the exception of the affected food menu which will be temporarily unavailable until they find another certified halal supplier.
Ikea management only learned about the revocation of its supplier's halal certification after it had browsed the Jakim portal on May 19.
"We closed the Ikea restaurant immediately the next day, including its two other food sections, namely the Exit Cafe and the Swedish Food Market, so that we could carry out the samak process as recommended by Jakim," Roszalena said, adding that the exercise carried out last Saturday was closely supervised by the Mutiara Damansara local mosque officials.
A total of 50 Ikea's personnel were involved in the religious purification exercise, which included the cleaning of the whole kitchen, cooking utensils, oven and grill, cutlery, counter-tops, tables, cups and plates.
"We have stopped using food items from this supplier on the day we learn about the halal revocation and had the stocks returned immediately."
Roszalena said Ikea was proactive and transparent in informing the public regarding the temporary closure of its food sections and had placed announcements at the respective outlets.
"Ikea takes great care to ensure its fresh food produce meets the correct specifications and has implemented strict operating procedures in regard to the procurement and monitoring of its food suppliers," she said.
Visitors to the Swedish home furnishing store were surprised to find the Ikea restaurant and Exit Cafe closed while the Swedish Food Market was cordoned off with retractable belt-barriers.
A visitor wanting only to be known as Zaharah said Ikea had acted responsibly by assuring its Muslim customers were served only halal food and drinks.
"Suppliers with halal certification should ensure their products conform to the strict requirements as stipulated in the halal certificate," she said.
In 2005, Ikea's Muller sausages made headlines when a raid by the Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association on its supplier's factory in Selayang revealed the use of animal-based casing for its sausages.
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