Opinion: Halal labeling at last in Indonesia

logo_muiThe bill on halal product certification, which was passed into law by the House of Representatives Thursday, is the first regulation on the halal status of food products in Indonesian history. Thanks to this law, consumers will have no doubt about the kinds of food outside the halal category. All consumers — Muslim or non-Muslim, Indonesian or foreign — will feel comfortable and have no hesitation in enjoying their food.

Moreover, when the ASEAN Economic Community comes into effect in 2015, foreign food products will be freely entering Indonesia. Halal food labeling will be important in order to ascertain whether the products are suitable for consumption by Muslims.

We should be embarrassed to have had no regulation on halal food for decades despite the fact that Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world. This is in contrast to Britain, France and Australia, who are serious in dealing with their halal food markets. In these secular countries, there’s no difficulty in distinguishing halal products from haram (forbidden) ones.

We certainly welcome the advent of the halal law, apart from the bargaining of interests between the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), especially with regard to the presence of the Product Certification Agency. The authority of the MUI is not reduced just because halal products have to obtain labels from this authority.

— Republika, Jakarta