Dr Aishah Tul Radziah Lebai Hussin Foto Bernama By Melati Mohd Ariff
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) — “All the hard work, time and money we put in has paid off,” said Dr Aishah Tul Radziah Lebai Hussin while looking at her husband Dr Fisol Ahmad standing nearby.
The couple shared their excitement with the writer after their green tea powder won the Best New Halal Food Award at the Gulfood 2015 event in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently.
Dr Aishah, Dr Fisol Ahmad and their products Foto Bernama
Gulfood 2015, held from Feb 8 to 15 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, was first introduced in 1987.
Dr Aishah Solution (DAS) Sdn Bhd was among 4,800 companies representing 120 countries at the world’s largest food exhibition, giving Malaysia its first win.
Dr Aishah told Bernama that she and her husband were surprised of the outcome as they were competing with big companies from around the world.
The couple participated in Gulfood and attended the awards ceremony to gain experience and exposure, and see what made other companies win.
“I was busy doing video recording at the back of the hall when they announced the runner-up for the ‘Best New Halal Food’ category, then I heard my company’s name as the winner. I was so ecstatic that I literally threw my video camera down and called my husband.
“It is true that if we work hard, Allah will reward us with something big,” said Dr Aishah, who is the company’s chief executive officer, in an interview with Bernama here recently.
Dr Aishah’s commitment towards producing health-based food products began when she conducted weight wellness programmes for people who were overweight or obese.
As someone who also fought with weight issues in the past, she used her personal experience and success in weight management to motivate participants of the programme.
Dr Aishah, who was born in Alor Setar, Kedah, began experiencing problems with her weight when she went into menopause at the age of 51.
Within a year her weight had gone up from 58kg to 68kg.
At the time, she was running the Wisma Bersalin Dr Aishah dan Dr Fisol maternity clinic in Sungai Petani, a setup the couple had been operating for the past 27 years.
Although they have shut down the maternity clinic since, the couple still operate clinics in Guar Chempedak and Sungai Petani respectively.
Realising how her health was being affected by the weight gain, Dr Aishah used her knowledge as a medical doctor to change her lifestyle and eating habits.
She finally managed to bring her weight down to 50kg and has also maintained the weight till today.
Her experience with overcoming her weight issue has been documented in a book titled ‘Rahsia Transformasi Diri Kekal Langsing’ (Personal Transformation in Maintaining a Slender Body) which was published in 2009.
The book offers tips on healthy eating and includes recipes, including those using green tea.
In the weight wellness programme which started in 2002, Dr Aishah advised participants to practice healthy living, especially in food choices, as healthy food products which require no cooking were hard to come by.
It was this difficulty that encouraged Dr Aishah to come up with her own health product.
After a year and a half of research and development (R&D), Dr Aishah and Dr Fisol created a product marketed by their company, DAS.
In the early stage the couple did everything themselves without any assistance, including financial help, from any party.
There were days when they stayed up until 3.00am to do research as during the day they spent their time at their clinics.
“We did everything ourselves as no one wanted to help. We wanted to challenge our capability. In the end, our patience, confidence and support brought us success,” said Dr Aishah.
The DAS factory located in the Kedah Halal Park, Sungai Petani began its operations in 2013.
Their earlier products, the Durian Energy Bar and Match Energy Bar (with green tea powder), were marketed under the brand name DASTO.
Other DASTO products include the Crunch and Munch Energy Bar and Granola.
“Our products are halal and packed with nutrients. They are wholesome and meet the requirements of the American Diet Association,” said Dr Aishah.
Palm syrup produced by the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA) is also an important element in Dr Aishah’s product as its nutrients is slowly absorbed into the blood.
As a manufacturer of health-based products, Dr Aishah frequently goes down to the field explaining to the public about the value of her products.
“Our product is more for those who need it, such as individuals who are obese or suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure.
“However, anyone can eat them. It’s especially good for people active in sports and performing the umrah. It can easily be taken anywhere and contains all kinds of nutrients,” said Dr Aishah adding that her products were available online, through appointed agents and AEON Big hypermarkets in Alor Star and Butterworth.
Recently, the products were also made available at YaPEIM (Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation) Mart in Gual Cempedak.
Dr Aishah’s health products have also penetrated the Brunei and Singapore market.
INCREASING PRODUCTION The success attained by Dr Aishah at Gulfood 2015 also opened doors for her products to penetrate the UAE and West Asia markets, with several MoUs signed for this.
“To cater to our customers’ demands, we need to plan carefully.
“With the support of my husband and children I believe we can do this,” she said.
Several new halal products from the company are also expected in the market including a protein bar and green tea probiotics drink.
The green tea probiotics drink was a result of joint R&D between Dr Aishah’s company and Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI).
Manufacturing will begin as soon as the new factory at the Perda Food Park, in Butterworth is completed in about a year.
The couple has also just returned from a trip to Belgium where they visited several nutrition companies such as Belourthe and chocolate factory Bruyerre Chocolate, as well as organic food producer Planet SA.
Dr Aishah said they hope to obtain supply of high quality organic raw material for their DAS products as well as establish cooperation in R&D with the Belgian companies they visited.