KUALA LUMPUR – Ramping up their investments to tap the thriving $1 trillion global halal market, global food firms have been suffering from the absence of unified halal standards globally.
“Obviously it’s not good to have so many standards. It’s confusing,” Jamil Bidin, the chief executive of Halal Industry Development Corporation, an agency linked to Malaysia’s government, told Reuters on Sunday, June 15.
Over the past years, calls have been going for Muslim countries to create a global standard for the halal food industry to boost the already booming sector.
The lack of global halal unified standards has burdened high production costs for the big food firms that must abide by the various halal standards in different countries.
However, the firms may face the dilemma of including ingredients that are “permissible under one standard but not another”.
In a booming industry, expected to boom grow from about $1 trillion in 2012 into a $1.6 trillion industry by 2018, the absence of uniform standards was expected to hinder the industry.
The issue of halal standards came under the spotlight after Cadbury’s Pork DNA scandal.
Last month, Cadbury chocolates have been declared pork free by Malaysia’s top Islamic body after earlier tests suggested two types of chocolate bar contained pig DNA.
Reacting to the discovery, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) immediately suspended the products’ halal certification, while Cadbury said it would recall them from stores.
Moreover, thirty non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also urged the public to boycott all products made by Cadbury.
“We expect there wouldn’t be a repeat of such an incident as this could ruin the halal industry, in Malaysia especially,” said Othman Yusoff, chairman of the halal committee of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers.
Aiming to end the lack of unified halal standards headaches, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has been working on setting global halal guidelines.
Titled “the Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries (SMIIC)”, the OIC movement is supported by the Emirates, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
SMIIC movement doesn’t include the halal hubs, Malaysia and Indonesia.
“What is critical is that there is interoperability among standards, and transparency,” said Rafi-uddin Shikoh, chief executive of New York-based consultants DinarStandard.
“An exporter intending to export food from Sudan should know and deliver easily the halal certification requirements from almost any market they feel they can grow in.”
Facing a threat of being banned in the big Malaysian market, Cadbury’s parent firm Mandelez has supported the issuance of global standards for halal products.
“We welcome efforts to ensure consistency in halal certification and would support a global standard, or perhaps wider regional standards, to help simplify the landscape,” a spokesman for Cadbury’s parent firm Mondelez said.
The concept of halal, — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Originally Published on http://www.onislam.net