Take A Leaf From M’sia On Halal Food Standards, Says Expert

By Muin Abdul Majid

ABU DHABI, Nov 13 (Bernama) — The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and
other Middle East countries should emulate Malaysia in regulating halal
food production to prevent governments and consumers from being
defrauded, said an industry expert.

Midamar Corporation director Jalel Aossey said countries like
Malaysia and Brunei had well established regulatory bodies to verify
products were halal-compliant and that protection levels were in place
in countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“There’s growing demand for a universal standard across all halal
products,” said the representative of one of North America’s largest
suppliers of high quality halal meat.

According to Aossey, regional governments needed help from the
industry to combat fraudulent halal food certification practices and
build consumer trust.

“Close cooperation between governments and active certifiers in
the region can help block non-halal food items from reaching
supermarket shelves as halal products,” he said at the Halal World Expo
Forum which runs alongside the Halal World Expo 2008 at the Abu Dhabi
National Exhibition Centre here.

He said people had to realise that it was not impossible and not too costly to put the correct halal standards in place.

“Inspection teams can be sent to the various countries where food
is being produced to allow it to be inspected, at that country’s cost.

“This is nothing when you consider the huge dollar volume of food
products exported to the UAE and other Gulf countries. Malaysia has set
the stage for the rest of the world to follow,” added Aossey.

According to him, of the American products that were found on
supermarket shelves in the UAE and elsewhere in the Gulf region, about
95 percent would be the same products found in the United States’

“But some how, on the way from the US to the Middle East, these
products magically become halal. Consumers are no doubt becoming more
aware of this reality and want to know what is being done to protect
their religious beliefs,” he said.

Aossey asserted that there was no regulation of halal
certification in the US as anybody could get hold of a good printer and
turn out a certificate that looked genuine.

“Corrupt certifiers get a taste for the money generated producing
“paper halal certificates’ for companies without actually performing
any work. It’s all too easy for them to operate in an unregulated
industry,” he said.

He said, however, credible certifiers would send slaughter teams
and auditors to production plants to check that processes were fully

Aossey said exporters rather than manufacturers were more likely
to approach corrupt certifiers, acquire halal certification, put Arabic
labels on the product and ship it to the Middle East.

“The manufacturer may not have a clue where the product ends up or
that their products are being misrepresented as halal,” he added.

Organised by IIR Middle East, the Middle East’s leading showcase
for the US$2.1 trillion global halal industry concludes Thursday.