Food safety training boosts capability of RP halal food certifiers

July 2 — Philippine halal food certifiers recently received additional
training on food safety assurance system that would give them a deeper
understanding of globally accepted food safety assurance guidelines and
standards and help them in their mandate of providing halal
certification to Philippine food producers.

The seminar on “Training on Food Safety Assurance System” for
the officers and members of the National Halal Accreditation Board of
the Philippines (NHABPI) and key officers of 11 halal certifying bodies
existing in the country was conducted recently in Manila by the
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Philippine Trade
Training Center (PTTC).

After the training, the participants are expected to gain a common
understanding of Food Safety Assurance Systems for eventual integration
into the halal assurance system.

Food Safety Assurance Systems such as the Recommended International
Hygiene Codes of Practices, Standard Sanitation Operating Procedures
(SSOP), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), and ISO
22000:2005 Food Safety Management System are prerequisite programs to
halal certification. These assurance systems were covered in the PTTC

Food Safety Assurance Systems are internationally-acknowledged
guidelines and standards that guarantee consumers that the food they
purchase are safe.

The National Halal Accreditation Board of the Philippines (NHABPI)
is composed of the seven Muftis and 13 eminent Ulamas representing
regions in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

NHABPI serves as the national Islamic Competent Authority that gives
guidance (fatwa) on the religious aspect of halal, and the body that
promotes and safeguards the Philippine halal certification system, by
among others, accrediting aspiring halal certifying organizations in
the country.

Once obtained, halal certification of products will attest that
these are processed, packed and transported according to Shariah
requirements and in accordance with the Philippine National Standards
(PNS) 2067:2008, otherwise known as the Halal Food General Guidelines.
Halal is an Arabic word that means permissible or lawful. It is the
opposite of the Arabic word Haram, which means forbidden or prohibited.

“Aside from the technical aspect of food safety and assurance, which
has become a global concern especially with the proliferation of
food-borne illnesses sourced from production to consumption, this
training also served as a forum for a productive exchange of ideas and
information on halal-based food safety.

The lessons acquired by the Ulamas and the halal certifiers in this
training is a major step towards increased number of local food
companies desirous of halal certification and entry of products in many
foreign markets, said PTTC executive director Adelaida L. Inton.

DTI Zamboanga Peninsula Assistant Regional Director and DTI National
Coordinator on Halal Initiatives, Sitti Amina M. Jain, who has been in
the forefront in pushing for the development of the halal industry in
the Philippines, emphasized the importance of building the
accomplishments in the halal accreditation of Philippine products.

These consist of the recognition of the National Halal Accreditation
Board and the adoption of the Philippine National Standard on Halal
Food as guidelines in the production, preparation, packaging and
labeling, and handling of foods intended for the growing Muslim market.

To hasten the acceptability of the Philippine food products in
Muslim markets, the Philippines has adopted the Philippine National
Standard 2067:2008.

The PNS 2067:2008 provides the general guidelines for the Philippine
food industry on the preparation and handling of halal food, including
food supplements, and serves as basic requirement for food products and
food trade in the Philippines.

The PNS should be used together with acceptable food safety systems
such as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), and Good
Manufacturing Practice.

The PNS 2067:2008 was prepared by Muslim scholars, theologians, and
Shariah experts in the Philippines through technical facilitation by
the Bureau of Product Standards’ Technical Committee on Halal Food.

Six extensive consultations covering 11 regions in the Philippines
and one focused group discussion were conducted and participated in by
Muslim scholars, theologians, and Shariah experts in the development of
the standards.

The extensive consultations were made possible through the efforts
of six national government agencies as directed under Presidential
Memorandum Order 201 issued on December 23, 2005. The six agencies are
the DTI, Department of Agriculture, Department of Science and
Technology, Department of Health, Department of Tourism, and the Office
of Muslim Affairs.

The world-wide halal market is estimated to cover 1.2 billion consumers located in 112 countries in five continents.

The biggest concentrations of Muslims are found in Indonesia with
212 million; Pakistan, 158 million; Bangladesh, 127 million; Egypt, 69
million; Iran, 67 million; Turkey, 66 million, and Nigeria, 64 million.

The halal market is not limited to Muslim-dominated countries.
Non-Muslim countries with large Muslim population are India with 174
million, China, 38 million; Russia, 11 million; the United States, 7
million; the Philippines, 5 million, and Thailand, 4.5 million. (PNA)