Public hearings on halal standards for traders set

ZAMBOANGA CITY — A series of public hearings will be conducted
later this month to finalize the implementing guidelines of the
National Halal Standard for Food that will regulate local manufacturers
eyeing foreign markets.

Sitti Amina Jain, Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI)
national coordinator for the halal initiative, said the public hearing
will start in Mindanao on Oct. 20. This would be followed by Cebu City
in the Visayas on Oct. 22 and Metro Manila on Oct. 27.

“We expect to have the final draft of the implementing
guidelines by Oct. 30, and we will endorse it to the secretaries of the
departments of Trade, Agriculture and Health,” she said.

In 2008, the National Halal Standard for Food was drafted for
use as the primary instrument to ensure that food products made
available to Muslim communities are halal. Under Muslim customs and
traditions, consumers must be assured that the food they consume meets
halal (permissible) requirements under Islamic law. Poultry and beef
must be slaughtered in accordance with Islamic rites to render them

Ms. Jain said they are targeting 200 participants in each
public hearing composed of food industry leaders and representatives
from hotels and restaurants, retail, exporters, consumers, academe,
concerned government agencies, the certifiers and the ulamas
(Islamic scholars). There will be a three- to six-month period before
it is enforced. Ms. Jain said the Philippines is one of the few
countries with its own National Halal Standard.

“Non-Muslim countries, such as ours, need policy promulgation
because 99% of our manufacturers are non-Muslims,” Ms. Jain said. — Darwin T. Wee