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Malaysia says Cadbury products found not to contain pig DNA

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - New tests conducted by Malaysian authorities found that chocolate bars made by British confectioner Cadbury do not contain pig DNA, contrary to a previous finding, the country's Islamic affairs agency said on Monday.

Cadbury withdrew two varieties of its chocolate snacks from sale in Muslim-majority Malaysia last week after government tests found traces of pork in them, leading some Islamic groups to call for a boycott on all of its products.

Malaysia's Islamic Development Department (Jakim) said none of the 11 samples it tested of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Hazelnut, Cadbury Dairy Milk Roast Almond and other products from the company's factory had shown positive results for porcine DNA.

Jakim said in a statement that Cadbury's halal certification for the two products would remain suspended pending further tests and investigations of its supply chain.

Jakim is the only body in Malaysia tasked with ensuring products are halal, or permissible by Islamic law. The previous tests were conducted in February by the country's health ministry on products taken from store shelves.

Jakim had said those tests might not have been fair to Cadbury since the products could have been contaminated after leaving the factory.

Cadbury Malaysia, whose parent firm is Mondelez International Inc, has stood by its products’ halal worthiness and assured the public it was working with authorities to resolve the matter.

A Muslim consumer group that last week called on Malaysians to boycott Mondelez products said on Monday it would not reverse its stance unless the health ministry concurs with the new results released by Jakim.

"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".

Following last week's announcement that the chocolate bars tested positive for the non-halal ingredient, fellow Muslim countries Indonesia and Saudi Arabia said they were also carrying out tests on Cadbury products.

Concerns over halal food standards could jeopardise Mondelez's sales in Muslim markets that are larger than Malaysia, such as Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, and in the Middle East.

(Reporting by Trinna Leong; Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Matt Driskill)

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