Sajila Saseendran, Senior Reporter, Gulf News
International accreditation forum working with UAE authorities on pilot project
Dubai: Is the food you ordered online halal? Well, you will know soon. Authorities are pushing for regulations to ensure online food delivery services in the UAE are halal, unless they state otherwise.
International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF), an independent, non-government network of accreditation agencies mandated to enforce halal standards in member countries, is working with regulatory bodies in the UAE to establish a halal certification system for online food delivery businesses, the forum’s secretary general Mohammad Saleh Badri told Gulf News in an interview.
The move is an extension of the efforts to certify various products and premises as halal and unify the halal standards and marks internationally.
The UAE has introduced the National Halal Mark to help consumers understand that food products with the mark have been certified as halal from the right authorities. In Dubai, strict regulations are in place for the sale of non-halal food products.
Online food delivery service is considered a new area for ensuring halal standards in the UAE, said Badri, who is also the former director general of the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (Esma).
“You just call and they bring the food. You don’t know how it is produced. If you go to the supermarket, you can identify the [halal] mark. But when you order food online, you can’t verify it,” he observed.
Badri said a new system for registering online food businesses will be introduced for this. These businesses will have to register with regulatory bodies.
“There will be a mechanism of how to control and monitor these registered businesses. The system will make sure all registered companies are halal. We are in the process of making it. By the end of this year, it should be out. We will coordinate with the regulatory departments for this.”
Badri said customers will be able to verify the halal certification. “For example, you are calling a pizza delivery service. You will be able to ask them for their halal registration.”
The strict regulations will ensure halal food products are halal throughout the chain of production, storage, and transportation until consumption.
Once the system is established in the UAE, it will be replicated in other member countries of the forum. More than 20 Islamic and non-Islamic countries are members of IHAF.
It is the first international accreditation entity to be based in the UAE. Esma and Dubai Accreditation Centre (DAC) under Dubai Municipality are part of the Forum. In association with these bodies, IHAF is supporting Dubai’s efforts to establish itself as the capital of the Islamic economy.
“Halal accreditation is one of the 40 initiatives that have been chalked out for this. Unified halal accreditation will eliminate duplication of standards and fake halal certifications in the market,” said Badri.
Globally, he said, there is a growing demand for halal certification of non-food products and premises as well. “Apart from hotels, restaurants and kitchens, we now have requests to certify airports and flight catering services as halal. We are promoting a lot of studies, technologies and innovations for halal certification. For example, there are apps that help consumers detect the authenticity of halal marks on food products.”