Turkey: Union demands new constitution include ‘halal consumption’

Parliament should include an article to protect Turkish citizens’ rights to consume goods that are produced in accordance with their religious teachings in the planned new constitution, Food Auditing and Certification Research Association (GIMDES) Chairman Hüseyin Kami Büyüközer told Today’s Zaman, adding they expect to convey such a suggestion to Ankara shortly.
Büyüközer’s remarks come amid the latest reports of an alleged clash between private certifiers and the Turkish Standards Institute (TSE) regarding the certification of halal products in Turkey. There were reports in the media on Friday saying the TSE felt uncomfortable with some private certifiers issuing certificates without the institute’s consent. With an estimated global trade volume of $2 trillion, halal products have gained importance in recent years, and halal products are in high demand worldwide. Turkey lacked a certification system until recently as G?MDES became the first body to issue halal certificates in Turkey. The TSE announced earlier the institution was the only official and legal body to issue halal certificates, asking companies to send their applications to the institution. Halal standards apply to a wide range of production processes, including the packaging, labeling, transportation and logistics of goods.

Büyüközer said halal certification should be made independent of governments. “This business should be controlled by an internationally accepted umbrella organization that could be established with the participation of independent clerics and experts,” he added. The GIMDES head said the same rule applies not only to “Islamic products” but also to such goods produced in accordance with the rules of other religions. Büyüközer said there are examples of international halal certifying bodies in various countries such as Malaysia; however, these have not been approved by all members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).“The OIC members have failed to unite under one single halal certifying body, so countries have introduced their own separate rules.”

The OIC actually has a halal standardization body, namely the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC). Out of 56 OIC members only 11 have so far approved the SMIIC, meaning a widely accepted certification body still remains a challenge for Islamic nations. “This is why we call on the Turkish government and other countries to unite under one single body, while at the same time protecting the right to consume these products. … This is the only way we can forge a healthy and respected global halal market,” the GIMDES head argued.

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