Saudi Arabia: Scholars to analyze halal food standards at Riyadh conference

RIYADH: The Kingdom will host the first ever international conference on halal food in the Saudi capital on Feb. 12, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority announced here on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference held at SFDA headquarters on Tuesday, the organization’s Chairman Mohammed Al-Kanhal said Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has consented to offer his patronage to the summit which is to be held for the first time in the Kingdom.

Ibrahim Al- Mohizea, vice president of SFDA was also present at the press briefing.

Stressing the importance of the event, Al-Kanhal said: “There is around 1.8 billion people in the world who consume halal food and its global market is valued at SR2.5 trillion.”

Explaining the significance of this conference, he pointed out that the SFDA wants to bring the scientific scholars and religious scholars to a common platform to explore new ways of improving the global halal food industry and to chalk out a mechanism to maintain a uniform check on the quality as well as the regulations adopted by the local authorities to ensure that the food consumed is halal.

The chairman said the conference will also incorporate concerned international organizations and private institutions to discuss this vital subject and request them to come up with recommendations which can enhance global trade and harmonize halal food requirements, conditions and control methods.

Explaining the objectives of the proposed summit, Al-Kanhal said it is to clarify the concept of halal food and its requirements from an Islamic perspective and to present technical and economic aspects of halal food in the light of its increased global demand.

“Besides boosting public and private sector cooperation in the relevant food industry at national, regional and at global levels, it would also serve as an ideal platform for exchange of experience between countries in the field of supervision and control of halal food.”

Among the topics to be tabled for discussions include, halal food in the light of the teachings of the Holy Quran and Islamic traditions, recommendations and regulations for halal certification, detection methods of forbidden substances of halal food, stunning and automated mechanical slaughter and lawfulness of food additives.

Al-Kanhal said the conference is open to all irrespective of their religious faiths and those interested in presenting technical papers should submit their works before Jan. 14.

He said the mission of the SFDA is to ensure the safety of food; the safety, quality and efficacy of drugs; and the safety and effectiveness of medical devices, by developing and enforcing an appropriate regulatory system.