By Vanitha Nadaraj, The Establishment Post
Halal food means more than just making sure Allah’s name was pronounced during the slaughter of the animals. It transcends this and includes an area that has been of great concern worldwide: food safety. Halal food means food that has not been contaminated or cross contaminated with non-halal products, exposed to harmful materials or environment while in storage or in transit. This is where halal logistics comes in.
This farm-to-table food safety principle explains why halal food is the latest fad in most Western countries and its consumption of halal food is growing among non-Muslims. In South Africa and Australia, the fresh beef sold is all halal although not labelled as such. This goes to show that halal certification is regarded as a credible benchmark for food safety in many parts of the world.
Public perception towards halal food is growing positive and no longer seen as food preparation or production exclusively for Muslims. During the World Halal Forum Europe in The Hague in 2009, participants and speakers agreed that halal is no longer taboo in Europe as awareness about halal products and certification has notably increased over the last couple of years. Advertising campaigns for halal products, certification and labels are also on the rise in Europe.
When it comes to halal compliance, halal logistics is as important as production. And just as profitable. Malaysia’s halal logistics sector was worth US$1.9 billion last year and it is expected to grow in tandem with the halal food industry. Which is why Malaysia is on the fast track to set up halal supply chains.
Malaysia plans to become a global halal hub. And it was for this purpose that the Halal Industry Development Corporation was formed. As a result, logistics companies are already halal certified, such as Century Logistics, CCN and MISC Logistics as well as ports like Northport, the country’s first port to be certified halal-compliant.
The Port of Rotterdam has a halal dedicated storage facility in its attempt to be recognised as the key halal entry point for the European market. This is the result of a halal supply chain with Port Klang of Malaysia. In France, the Port of Marseilles is developing a halal regional distribution center in collaboration with Malaysia.
One of the key people who had outlined processes and mechanisms in halal logistics is Dr Mohamed Amin Kassim, Deputy Managing Director of Century Logistics Holdings, the first company certified by Sirim in halal logistics. Sirim is the government research and standards development organization. Halal logistics is an interesting marriage between the supply chain sector and hygiene.
“The logistics industry includes ports, shipping and freight forwarding, warehousing and handling facilities. Halal means cleanliness of the highest order, best practices in the industry worldwide, quality of the food, and all these transcend race, religion and nationality,” Dr Mohamed Amin tells The Establishment Post. Halal logistics involves the movement and storage of halal products.
“From source to factory and this includes trucking and warehousing. Each area will have critical control points. Raw materials and finished products should not be exposed to dirt or harmful materials at any point in transit,” he adds. By this he means checks go down to the minutest detail like checking labeling and equipment used, and storage area. The food product needs to correspond with the label. This is to avoid cases of non-halal food being shipped to the intended destination in packaging with a halal label.
“Equipment such forklifts need to be checked to make sure they are cleaned after using to lift harmful materials like chemicals,” says Dr Mohamed Amin. “We need to control the movement of products from various parts of the world and redistribute them,” he adds. And all along making sure food safety is observed at all times and at all points. Vermin check is also included. There should be no pests in storage areas or during transit.
It looks like halal food compliance is setting the benchmark for food safety.