Opinion: Are non-Muslims allowed to interfere in halal certification?

Bernd Lange, Member of the European Parliamt und Norbert Kahmann Symrise AG
Bernd Lange, Member of the European Parliament and Norbert Kahmann Symrise AG

No, they are not allowed to and neither are we!

The Kosher & Halal Working Group at the Hanover Chamber of Industry and Commerce is repeatedly asked about this issue; We, as non-Muslims, are interfering in an issue that does not concern us. We, the working group, question halal standards and the work of individual halal certifiers, which has a direct influence on our work as internationally active companies.

We have the duty to point out that individual standards or working methods of certifiers can have a negative influence on our business, it is about exports from Germany and other European countries and thus our prosperity!

In order to safeguard this for the future, we invited #BerndLange, Member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Committee on International Trade, to our last working group meeting at the Hanover Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We had described our “challenges” in the individual countries to Bernd Lange in advance, so that he could comment on them directly.

What are our challenges:                                                                  

Indonesia now wants to conclude G2G agreements in its upcoming negotiations on international trade agreements. No longer an overall agreement with Europe as before, but individual agreements are to be concluded with all countries.

Which European country has a halal department that is familiar with the requirements of the Indonesian halal standard, and why do they deviate from the previous  practice?  At the same time, the Indonesian government is changing its requirements for the accredited halal certifiers and thus also directly for us. In the future, every accredited certifier must maintain an office in the European country where he wants to certify a company and its products.

So it’s no longer just a matter of the continent? For us as companies who want to export to this country, this means additional certification bodies, rising costs and increased administrative work, which is not acceptable!

Malaysia writes in its Halal Standard:

Pork raw materials and their derivatives are prohibited in a Jakim Standard certified company on the entire premises of the certified company. We can understand an exclusion for the certified area, we can understand and implement an exclusion of cross-contamination, but a complete ban is not “appropriate”!

Trade barriers due to Egypt ISEG’s new certification requirements                             

Animal products and their derivatives exported to Egypt require, among other things, IS EG certification, only this is certification is allowed for export to Egypt. This new law not only disrupts existing trade relations (existing halal certifications are no longer recognised), but also prevents new ones. The ISEG is not operational, emails are not answered, documents are not delivered, and the new cost structure multiplies certification and transport costs, which hinders trade and could also lead to shortages of certain animal products in the Egyptian market.

Halal-compliant primary packaging:                                                                

In addition to our raw material and product certifications, the use of certified lubricants and detergents, and a halal transport standard that is in the pipeline in some Muslim countries, we are currently assessing the halal suitability of primary packaging.

Yes, the packaging that comes into contact with the product must also be Halal, no objection from our side!                                                                            

But we have a request to all certifiers and standard setters: Do this with the packaging manufacturers directly and not through us, who only use this packaging. We would like to ask you to follow the polluter pays principle here and not to demand statements or halal certifications from these manufacturers from us, that is not our task!

If you, the certifiers or standard setters find a product group or challenges in the halal supply chain that still needs to be certified according to your halal standard, please contact the polluter.

#ThankyouBerndLange Thank you for your time and understanding of our challenges, and your willingness to discuss this within the European Union with individual countries to secure our export!