Halal Agency Readies Global Standard Draft For Six Industries By Next May

From Tham Choy Lin

HONG KONG, Nov 27 (Bernama) – The International Halal Integrity
Alliance (IHI) is working on draft guidelines for at least six
industries feedback at the World Halal Forum (WHF) next May in Kuala
Lumpur in its goal of forging a global Syariah-compliant standard.

It is now engaging stakeholders and governments in various
countries including non-Muslim states to tap best practices and
expertise, IHI chief executive officer Darhim Hashinm told Bernama.

“Like in logistics for example, we went to Holland because that is
where the expertise is. The Port of Rotterdam is the first halal
services certified port, so it is only natural,” said Darhim who held
an industry roundtable with representatives from Australia, Japan, the
Philippines and Hong Kong on food services here.

The non-governmental organisation, sanctioned by the 57-member
country Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC)and registered last
year, has identified developing standards for 10 sectors and aims to
come up with recommendations for at least six by May.

The areas involved are logistics and cold storage, food services,
laboratory testing, finance, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and toiletries,
animal feed, animal welfare, slaughter process and non-meat processed

Darhim explained that a host country will be identified for each
sector and it would not necessarily be a Muslim country, citing Holland
as the lead point for halal logistics.

“We started with logistics because it is the hardest area, there is no
benchmark whereas for others it is a lot easier like in Islamic
finance, Malaysia and Bahrain are the leaders, and in animal welfare,
New Zealand and the United Kingdom are very strong on this, we just
have to exclude the part on pigs,” he said.

Darhim stressed that although IHI is based in Malaysia, which
pledged RM15 million to fund the organisation, the bid for a global
halal standard should not be perceived as a Malaysia agenda.

“The evolution is already happening, Muslim countries and governments
are becoming more conscious of the need for a global standard, it is
changing because Muslims are travelling more and they are getting more
exposed to non-Muslim countries like China and the Europe region,” he

But the task is not without its obstacles, Darhim admitted, especially
in dealing with countries which already have well-entrenched halal
certification systems.

“There s a lot of sovereignty involved but we are not asking them to
throw out their systems. We are engaging them, to come out with a
standard operating procedure and we will promote the importance of
accreditation which will separate the cowboys from the genuine
players,” he said.

“In a simple way, IHI will audit the auditors. Central Asian countries,
Palestine and several other countries have also approached us for
assistance to develop their systems,” he added.

Kazuo Nakamichi, director if the Islamic Centre in Japan, said although
his country has a small Muslim population, there were industries which
were interested in a global halal standard because they want to trade
with Muslim countries.

The industry roundtable saw Nakamichi and fellow participants exchange
experience and discussed concerns over raw resources,
cross-contamination and uncertified halal labelling by food suppliers
and restaurants.

Cheong Loon Lai, Malaysia’s Consul General in Hong Kong, who also
attended the meeting said a group of his counterparts here, led by the
United Arab Emirates, had taken recently the lead to speak to major
hotels here to have halal menus.

“This will make it easier for us to host functions at such
establishments and the response has been positive. The Shangri La
Hotel, for instance, has been very supportive,” Cheong said.

Darhim lauded the move diplomats’ move, saying that it could be emulated by envoys of OIC members in other countries.