By Timothy Abu Mounir Hyatt, Vice President of Islamic Services of America (ISA) and Managing Director of Halal Montreal Certification Authority (HMCA)
There were 156 participants from 84 foreign Halal certification bodies (FHCBs) and 48 countries in attendance for the JAKIM Halal Certification Bodies Virtual Conference held on Thursday September 8, 2021. Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM) is Malaysia’s Halal governing body.
Islamic Services of America (ISA) based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Halal Montreal Certification Authority (HMCA) based in Brossard, Quebec Canada have been JAKIM approved Halal certification bodies for many years. Attending staff included a total of six (6) management and QA team members from both Halal certification companies.
Venue & Theme
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 on physical meetings and ongoing travel restrictions, this annual event went from a three day in person event held in Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya, Malaysia to a three-day virtual event in 2020 to a single day virtual event.
The primary theme was to encourage and expect FHCBs to continue to cultivate and ensure the Halal integrity of products and processes as a post pandemic collective responsibility.
Opening Introduction & Comments
Opening keynote address comments from Mdm Hajah Hakimah Mohd Yusof, Deputy Director General of JAKIM (Policy Sector) included JAKIM project updates for the past year and Quranic verses and hadiths such as:
Eat of the good, lawful things provided to you by Allah (God). And be mindful of Allah in Whom you believe.
-Verse 88, Al Ma’idah
She reminded the audience that there is clarity in the scriptures:
- What is Halal (permissible) is clear
- What is Haram (forbidden) is clear
- Anything in between is doubtful
Pandemic Effects & Consequential Changes
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected and brought about
- Greater awareness of Halal & Tayeb
- Reduced production of goods
- Changes in business, manufacturing, and supply chains which have resulted in empty shelves in some countries
- Food shortages and additional risks to Halal integrity, food safety and security, fraud (horse meat being substituted or mixed with beef in Europe)
- Changes in outsourced production partners which increases Halal compliance risks and traceability issues
- Challenges with customer Halal remote / virtual surveillance audits due to the inability to conduct the usual onsite visual facility tours.
- This results in the need for increased Halal training for customer staff to meet and maintain Halal compliance standards
- Changes in shopping habits which shifted even more exponentially to E-Commerce with increased online shopping world-wide
- Changes in eating habits
- More “togetherness” in families???
JAKIM Initiatives, Projects & Updates
JAKIM presented its recent accomplishments and coming plans
JAKIM has completed issuing recognition renewals for existing listed Foreign Halal Certification Bodies (FHCBs) that passed their JAKIM audits earlier this year.
The updated JAKIM standards of procedure draft was shared with FHCBs and received 119 comments. The comments are in the process of review and consideration for the final updated Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) document for implementation by August 2022. It will also be shared with the WTO (World Trade Organization).
Other upcoming developments include:
- FHCB recognition will be given based on Halal Schemes
- If an FHCB wants to be recognized for more than one industry, it will need to attend JAKIM training programs by specific Industry
- Halal Technical Capacity Development Program (HTCDP) for meat certification to be completed by Halal Quality Assurance (QA) teams.
o List of critical halal ingredients according to some Fatwahs to be referenced
- Management team training
- Blockchain technology for traceability
- QR code implementation for annual and export certificates
- Annual letters of certification and Impartiality
Other Standards and Talking Points
- Halal slaughter facility protocols start with animal welfare.
- Poultry must be hand slaughtered
o Mechanical slaughter is still under discussion between sharia, technical and management teams
- Imported goods must use approved packaging material
- Only Muslim owned FHCBs qualify for JAKIM recognition
- Companies that export products with high-risk ingredients (gelatin, fatty acids, certain flavors) must be registered with the Malaysian Ministry of Health
ISA & HMCA as JAKIM Recognized Halal Certification Bodies
Both Islamic Services of America (ISA) and Halal Montreal Certification Authority (HMCA) continue to be proud formally JAKIM recognized and listed Halal certifiers serving its manufacturing and product brand clients in the USA and Canada, domestic distributors and exporters and Malaysian and other global Halal consumers.