MUI wants draft law to ban sales of uncertified products

food products found without halal or haram labels should be withdrawn
from the market to avoid confusing Muslims, the Indonesian Ulema
Council (MUI) said Friday.

Deputy head of MUI’s food and drugs analysis body Lukmanul Hakim said
once halal labeling was made compulsory all producers of halal products
should obtain certificates.

He further said, “All products claimed by their producers to be halal but do not have certificates should be banned”.

“The government should also withdraw these products from the market.”

He said provisions should be included in a bill on halal product
assurance to oblige food producers to certify their products with halal

The draft law, currently being reviewed at the State Secretariat, said
offenders would be sentenced to a maximum of two years or a fine of up
to Rp 100 million (around US$10,750).

He said all food producers should make it clear whether their products were halal or haram to avoid misleading customers.

Such notification was necessary because Muslims generally tended to
take for granted food, drugs and cosmetic products without halal
labels, he said.

“Products without halal labels can actually be considered non-halal
while average Muslims may not be aware of this,” Hakim said.

A survey by marketing expert Rhenald Kasali found that customers
perceived products were safe for consumption as long as they were not
attached with a “haram” (not halal) label, which were issued by the
ulema council.

Earlier this month, in a hearing with the House of Representatives, MUI
leaders demanded the government oblige all food producers, claiming
their products were safe for Muslims, to certify their products.

The council, which has been authorized to administer and issue halal
labels for 19 years, said mandatory labeling was necessary to protect
the majority Muslim population in the country.

Data from the Religious Affairs Ministry showed only around 20 percent
of products available at the markets had been certified with halal
labels, although most producers claimed their products were consumable
for Muslims.

Hakim also said the MUI had rejected a provision in the draft law that
suggested an independent body would take over the council’s authority
in issuing halal certificates.

The ulema council argued it was the only institution acknowledged by
the public and the most experienced in handling halal certification.

The draft law was submitted to the State Secretariat two weeks ago for review before being deliberated at the House.