MUIS confirms A&W not actually halal-certified, but chain has assured ingredients are halal-compliant

PHOTO: Facebook / A&W restaurant Singapore

It’s been more than a year since A&W made its celebrated return to Singapore, and along with its signature curly fries and root beer floats were lofty plans to open more outlets across the island as well as the intention to go halal. 

A&W has since launched a grand total of one additional restaurant in Ang Mo Kio and still no halal certification yet, according to the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS). 

In fact, the statutory board isn’t even processing any applications right now. That surprised quite a lot of Muslim folk here, who’ve been intently waiting for any news of halal confirmation for the cult fast-food chain. Some of ‘em might have already dined in at A&W as well. 

A minor kerfuffle broke out on social media in the past few days when the official Twitter account of MUIS’ halal food and certification arm confirmed that A&W does not have the halal certification.  

For A&W’s operators in Singapore, being inclusive has always been the aim from the get-go. Kelvin Tan, A&W International's director of marketing and communication, has gone on record to assure that the company has “every intention” of submitting an application to MUIS for halal certification. 

But even without an official certificate, the chain has assured that its ingredients are totally halal-compliant.

"Right now, we would like consumers to know that it’s a Muslim friendly menu, no pork no lard, and as soon as we can find the time to submit our application to MUIS, we will do so immediately,” Tan told CNA in April last year. 

Popular halal food publications have also sought out to address the issue. According to Have Halal Will Travel, a recent check with A&W this April revealed that the company has claimed that it is still in the midst of applying for the halal certification. MUIS, on the other hand, noted that no such application has been received. 

The Halal Food Blog wrote that A&W has actually submitted applications for halal certifications back in January, but the outcome has yet to be confirmed. 

We've been getting loads of enquiries about this too! Well, A&W Singapore has always stated their intention to be...

Posted by The Halal Food Blog on Thursday, 18 June 2020

“This specific response from the MUIS Halal SG Twitter account tells me either (1) the application was cancelled or (2) the application was under a different name other than A&W Singapore (which has happened many times in the past),” the blog noted on Facebook, referencing similar confusion in regards to Krispy Kreme when the brand made its debut here. 

MUIS, however, made sure to clarify that there’s a difference between “not halal” and “not halal-certified”. The former refers to food or drink that is not permissible for Muslim consumption, while the latter just means that MUIS, as a certifying body, has not done their rounds of checks and audits to ensure that the eatery is halal compliant. 

If Muslims in Singapore need further advice on what they can and cannot consume, the Twitter account has already written a step-by-step guideline. 

A&W has yet to publicly chime in on the commotion, but it’s more than ready to welcome diners into restaurants after its eventual reopening. 

Tag someone who missed having their A&W® Root Beer in a cold frosted mug. #AWRestaurantsSG #AWesome #StaySafe

Posted by A&W Singapore on Tuesday, 9 June 2020

ilyas@asiaone.com