Plans to issue standards on halal hit snag

AN INTERAGENCY BODY IS SET TO come out next month with standards on
the production of halal food amid efforts of food manufacturers to take
advantage of the $200-billion global market.

However, an official of the Jakarta-based World Halal Council said
the guidelines were “localized” and not up to the requirements for
internationally accepted food for Muslims.

Trade Undersecretary Carissa Cruz-Evangelista said in a statement
that the interagency core group preparing the “First Philippine General
Guidelines on Halal Food” included the departments of trade and
industry, agriculture, science and technology, health, and tourism; and
the Office of Muslim Affairs.

These agencies are cooperating with the Office of the President and
the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao to have the halal guidelines
ready for presentation to President Macapagal-Arroyo on March 13.

Halal is an Arabic word that can be generally translated as
“permissible” and, in relation to consumables, referred to products
that Muslims are allowed to use, eat and drink in the observance of

Abdul Rahman RT Linzag, newly installed secretary general of the
World Halal Council, said however that the proposed standards may only
be good for local consumption.

“I have perused this document and I found that the guidelines are not up to WHC standards,” Linzag said.

He explained that the guidelines “were based on the rule of the
majority and popular tastes” rather than what are acceptable to other
countries in relation to halal.

Linzag, who is also president of the nongovernment organization
Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines, reiterated that rules on
halal could never be a government function, especially in a country
like the Philippines where Muslims are a minority.