Halal Certification Body Warns Against Mislabelling

| 04/03/2009 | Reply

DAVAO CITY—The
country now has a national standard and one certifying body for
halal—lawful and permitted items for use or consumption under Islamic
law—accreditation, effectively positioning itself to get a bigger slice
of the estimated $2.1-trillion global market for halal food and nonfood
products.

There’s
a catch, though: an executive of the certifying body in the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Minda-nao (ARMM), on which certification guide the
national standard was based, has warned of “unscrupulous persons . .
.pushing with their fraudulent activities of mislabeling their products
as halal when they are not.”

He
said mislabelings have been detected already, and disclosed that “many
of unscrupulous acts are committed by businesses outside Mindanao.”

Esmael
Ebrahim, managing director of the Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification
Board (MMHCB), said an interagency committee formed by Malacañang has
completed the Philippine National Standard guidelines on halal
certification in February last year, but implementation rules were
developed only in November.

So
far, “more than 10” products have been certified, with the applications
of four big major exporters of meat and dairy products under process.

The
halal guidelines would cover hygiene and sanitation and other health
concerns, “which the Islamic halal practice is all about,” said
Ebrahim. “It covers all areas of preparation, including butchering,
processing and serving or packaging of food items, while nonfood items
include such products as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.”

Marites
Maguindra, assistant regional secretary of the Department of Trade and
Industry in the ARMM, said the delay has been caused by the complexity
of the issue. “We still need an enabling law to make the guidelines
implementable, some kind of an IRR [implementing rules and
regulations].”

She was speaking at the opening day on Monday of the halal conference at the Regency Hotel here in Davao City.

The
working group was formed from representatives of the DTI, which is the
lead agency; the departments of Agriculture, Health, Tourism, Science
and Technology; and the Office of Muslim Affairs. It will meet on
Thursday to craft the Joint Administrative Orders to serve as the
temporary IRR of the guidelines, and Maguindra said they expect to
finalize them by the end of the month then submit them to the Office of
the President for further study.

Ebrahim
said no large export of halal-certified foods and nonfood items have
been made but one company, the Concepcion-owned RFM Foods Corp., “has
immediately benefited from declaring that its products are already
certified as halal.”

Maguindra
said RFM was “immediately offered a booking worth $400,000 in Dubai
last year,” in a five-city swing in the United Arab Emirates organized
by the DTI.

“This
year, the company also received $4 million worth of another booking
from the Middle East,” she added. “This is only one of the major
benefits of certifying your companies as halal. At least, we now have
an initial opening to the rich global market for halal.”  

In
the ARMM alone, “we have 4 million Muslims that would be a very large
potential domestic market for halal food and nonfood products.”

 

Category: Asia, Halal Integrity

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