Cambodia: Cooperation for Halal food standards

Sok Chan / Khmer Times

Cambodia will cooperate with Thailand and Malaysia to establish halal standards to cater to the rising number of national and international tourists visiting Cambodia, especially from the Middle East.

Commerce Secretary of State Mao Thora said yesterday at a seminar on halal standards that there is demand from Islamic and non-Islamic states for halal products because they are clean, hygienic and of a high standard.

He said that many countries with Muslim populations encouraged the production and certification of halal products.

“We will cooperate with Thailand and Malaysia to bring halal standards to Cambodia soon,” Mr Thora said.

“Our Cambodian halal steering committee is working closely with Thailand and Malaysia to create halal standards in Cambodia,” he added. “We have yet to understand the full extent of halal standards.”

Osman Hassan, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour and deputy head of the halal steering committee, said the halal food industry would be a boost for the economy when Cambodia adopts the standards.

He said the standards would apply to preparation, processing, packaging, storage, presentation and distribution, food safety, marketing and labelling.

Food which qualified for certification would comply with Islamic law, local laws and standards pertaining to food safety and labelling.

Mr Hassan said as the arrival of foreign travellers visiting Cambodia rose, especially from the Middle East, the country would focus on halal food at restaurants and hotels.

“The market size and value of halal products is big in all over the world,” he said.

“For instance, the value of exporting halal products from Thailand to the world was $6 billion per year, while Malaysia’s export of halal products to the global market is about $11 billion per year.”

He said that if Cambodia had halal standards it could generate more income for the economy.

Mr Hassan said investment in halal products would not only come from Muslims.

Non-Muslim people could also invest in halal products when they knew how to follow the processes, he said.

The committee would also invite Thai and Malaysian counterparts to help in certifying the standards.

Businesses wanting to register would have to meet the halal steering committee which would check their business and then certify them, Mr Thora said.

Darm Boontham, charge d’affaires at the Thai embassy, said Thailand would cooperate with the committee on how it could contribute to helping Cambodia bring halal standard products to Muslim consumers in Cambodia.

“The Cambodian government is enthusiastic about standardising halal products and making them available to more than 700,000 Muslims in Cambodia,” Mr Boontham said.

Halal food adheres to Islamic law, under which pork is forbidden and animals must be slaughtered in a particular way.