Malaysia: ‘Don’t be misled on Halal food’ advice

Kota Kinabalu: Many Muslims don’t seem to be very aware of the halal concept and their rights to buy and consume halal products, said Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department, Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran.

“As a result, some food traders are taking advantage of the existing situation by placing ‘Halal’ signages on their non-Muslim premises and hire waitresses and cashiers wearing headscarves to attract Muslim customers.

“Therefore, Muslims must be vigilant and be alert on their rights as consumers so that they would not be hoodwinked into eating at such premises,” he said.

Nasir said this when officiating at the closing of the Halal Convention Sabah 2010 at Sa’adah Hall in Wisma Muis, here, Monday.

Also present were Sabah Islamic Affairs Department (Jheains) director Datuk Amri A. Suratman and his Assistant Principal Director for Regional and Administration Ustaz Siddiq Ag. Adi.

Nasir said the halal convention was held to educate Muslims on the halal concept and enhance their awareness to have a better understanding of the issue.

“It is imperative for the Muslims to understand that halal does not only mean the logo or products being free from pig meat and alcohol but that it covers many aspects including cleanliness and the ingredients of food and drinks.

“In fact, by definition halal covers all aspects of a product in terms of its cleanliness and quality from the beginning of the production process up to the stage when it is ready to be eaten.

According to Nasir, a total of 314 premises have been issued the halal certification by the State-level Committee of Islamic Food Utilisation that comprised Jheains, Sabah Health Department, Domestic Trade, Consumerism and Co-operative Ministry, Department of Veterinary Services and Animal Industry, Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) Sabah branch, Sirim Berhad Sabah branch, City Hall Kota Kinabalu, Chemistry Department Sabah branch and Local Government and Housing Ministry.

Of the figure, he said, 124 product premises were issued the certification followed by 93 restaurants and eateries, 54 hotel restaurants and 24 abattoirs and 19 re-packaging premises.

In this respect, he called on the food operators and traders who were issued the certifications to always make sure and safeguard the standard and quality required of the halal concept are met at all times.

This is because, Nasir said not all Muslim consumers have full confidence in the halal logo although it is issued by the State and Federal religious authorities following several incidents involving some non-Muslim traders who abused the halal logo for profit.

At the same time, he urged Muslim traders and operators to obtain the halal certification and logo which will not only enhance the Muslim consumers’ confidence but also make sure the production, preparation and marketing of products meet the halal standards.

By doing these, he said Muslim entrepreneurs would have bright prospects to penetrate the vast halal market.