Extra effort needed to cater to varied dietary restrictions

At an inter-faith dialogue, Mayor of North East District Desmond Choo talked about the food sensitivities of the different groups in Singapore (People must respect others' food choices; Sept 9).

I fully agree with that principle.

To make his point, Mr Choo highlighted a case earlier this year, when fast-food chain Subway announced its decision to apply for halal certification, which led to some strong reactions against the move from some netizens.

The incident is a prime example of how respecting the food choices of others is easier said than done.

Respecting the choice of one group inevitably impinges on the choice of other groups.

With its halal certification, Subway has removed pork from its menu. Some Hindus and Buddhists have ended up with reduced options as they cannot eat beef for religious reasons. Chicken bacon and ham taste different from pork-based ones - so pork lovers have had to adjust their tastes or do without their old favourites.

I am not a Subway fan and I do not have dietary restrictions on religious grounds. I can, however, understand the frustration of Subway regulars whose previously wide range of choices has disappeared.

Businesses are, of course, free to make whatever decisions they think are best for their success. But in multi-religious and multicultural Singapore, we should make an extra effort to balance the interests of the different communities.

Agnes Sng Hwee Lee (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2018, with the headline 'Extra effort needed to cater to varied dietary restrictions'. Print Edition | Subscribe