Brunei: Addressing the unknown major challenge for Halal authorities

By Nazirul Hakeem A, Borneo Bulletin

THE hidden ingredient or the unknown factor is one of the key challenges faced by the Halal authorities.

Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources

Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources

The assurance of ‘Halal’ products in today’s world is an issue that needs to be meticulously observed, especially among the Muslim community, said Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, in his keynote address at yesterday’s opening ceremony of the International Seminar on Halal Science and Innovative Product Development.

“There is need for an imperative approach to strengthen and develop technical capacity and technology advancement in the areas of Halal detection methods for food as well as non-food products.

“Today, the food chain has become so long and people’s lifestyles have changed significantly. This has resulted in the need to preserve and process, for example, meat into various meat products.

“With technological advances in the meat processing industry, the tendency to adulterate and cause fraud are increasing to get more business profits at the expense of consumers. The technological advancement is not only limited to meat products but also applied to other products including health supplements and cosmetics,” said the minister.

Among the Halal issues are: Blood-derived ingredients in food and dietary supplement products, animal-derived gelatin in food and pharmaceutical products and animal-derived collagen-peptides in cosmetic and dietary supplement products, said Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya.

“Addressing the unknown or the hidden ingredients are some of the key challenges not only faced by the Halal authorities but also food safety agencies,” he added.

He also shared with the audience the Sultanate’s efforts towards developing and strengthening capabilities in Halal Science and Innovation.

“What has been done so far is that Brunei is currently streamlining its capabilities in the field of analytical services with world-class technologies and experts.

“In particular, Brunei is working towards collaborating with two internationally known universities, Osaka University from Japan and Florida State University from the United States as well as Japan Food Research Laboratories from Japan for analytical testing.”

To further show the commitment in pursuing the Halal Science and Innovation, the minister shared his insight on the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources’ efforts in working closely with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Health and Universiti Brunei Darussalam towards the establishment of Brunei Darussalam Halal Science Centre.

“This centre will conduct Halal authentication, detection, innovation and research and also development,” he added.

“To firm up decisions on Halal matters, we are also working towards the establishment of Halal Product Academy which consists of Shariah scholars, Halal scientists and Halal industry experts. This is very much relevant nowadays when food and non-food products are produced extensively, using wide variety of ingredients and scientific labeling.”

The global growth pace of the Halal Industry has increased tremendously where in the year 2011, this industry was estimated at US$2.1 trillion. Seventeen per cent or US$632 billion of this estimated value represents the entire global Halal food industry.

The world’s 1.8 billion Muslims, which represent 25 per cent of the world’s population,  have fuelled an increase in the global demand for Halal products and services.

The convening of the International Seminar on Halal Science and Innovative Product Development in Brunei Darussalam is another platform to establish stronger interactions on the subject of Halal Science and Halal Businesses.