Halal mark a must for all food products in UAE

Gulf News – By Shafaat Shahbandari

New certification system from next year

halal buttonDubai: All food products claiming to be halal need to have a halal mark and certification from next year, a senior official from the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (Esma) has said.

The announcement comes as part of a halal regulations package, which will also include halal certification for cosmetics and perfumes as well as clothes and accessories.

“It is His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai’s dream to make Dubai the capital of the halal economy and this initiative is part of that project. Through this process we will make sure what people consume assuming it is halal is actually halal,” said Mohammad Saleh Badri, Director-General of Esma.

According to Badri, there is currently a system in place to verify halal compliance of food products but it has very limited scope.

Recently mandated by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to formulate halal codes for cosmetics and perfumes to be implemented in all Islamic countries, Esma hopes the halal food standards will also be adopted by other countries.

“Each emirate has its own system to verify halal compliance at municipal level but there are no general standards and regulations. We will be putting a whole new system in place which will not only be a point of reference for firms in the UAE but also for other Islamic nations,” added Badri.

Currently in the process of ratification, the standards will be in place by early next year, covering all types of food products and outlets.

“Every eatery and food brand that claims its food to be halal will come under the scanner and we will go into details of the ingredients used, the processing, the plantation, chemicals used, the packaging as well as the slaughtering of animals. Every process should comply with Sharia regulations,” said Badri, explaining the certification system.

The announcement comes following recent speculation about Western food chains not complying with halal standards, which led to the withdrawal of certain products in several countries.

“Once we have our system in place, there will be no place for speculation and scepticism. It will be clear to people what products are halal and what are not permissible. We will ban those products that don’t comply with the standards,” Badri said.

Paying attention to detail, the standards will even look into cases of food products being genetically modified or processed using chemicals or fertilisers that have traces of non-permissible products.

Having traces of pork, animals slaughtered in a non-Islamic way or the presence of alcohol in food products among other things is not allowed according to Sharia.

In the next phase, the authority will implement standards to ensure all clothing and accessories are also halal.