The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (“JAKIM”) released a draft of the Malaysia Procedure for the Recognition of Foreign Halal Certification Bodies 2021 (“MPR-FHCB”) on 11 February 2021. The MPR-FHCB sets out the recognition process for a Foreign Halal Certification Body (“FHCB”) and the post-recognition obligations of an FHCB. The MPR-FHCB applies to both an FHCB seeking JAKIM’s recognition as well as an FHCB that has already been recognized by JAKIM.
The consultation period for the draft MPR-FHCB closed on 15 March 2021, after a 14-day extension from 1 March 2021. Upon its finalization and issue, the MPR-FHCB will replace the Procedures for Appointment of Foreign Halal Certification Bodies issued by JAKIM.
An outline of the MPR-FHCB is set out below.
International Halal Recognition Committee
The International Halal Recognition Committee (“IHRC”) is to be established by the Director-General of JAKIM to make decisions relating to the recognition of an FHCB by JAKIM. The IHRC is to comprise various staff members (including experts) of JAKIM who are not involved directly in the assessment process of applications for recognition.
The IHRC will be responsible for determining and approving policies related to the recognition of an FHCB, and deciding on any approval, reassessment, disapproval, revocation, delisting or any orders that do not comply with the recognition requirements. The decisions of the IHRC are final, recorded, and will be notified in writing to the FHCB.
An Islamic affairs officer who has passed the competency training and examination conducted by JAKIM will be awarded an Auditor Competency Certificate and thereby be eligible to conduct the assessment of applications for recognition, which amongst others, include compliance, renewal, and surveillance of an FHCB (“Auditor”). The Auditor shall not be a member of the IHRC.
Applications for recognition can be made either online or offline and are to be supported by the relevant documents.1
At least two Auditors will be assigned to assess each application for recognition.
The assessment of an FHCB’s application for recognition covers the management, documentation, halal certification system, competency, and other factors.2
The assessment process includes:
- Opening meeting: introductory session by the Auditors to inform the FHCB on, amongst others, the purpose, scope of assessment, and Standard of Reference used;
- Adequacy audit: to verify the documents submitted by the FHCB to JAKIM and other relevant documents for the recognition process;
- Witness audit; an observation session on the capabilities and competency of the FCHB to undertake halal certification; and
- Closing meeting: to summarise the findings by the Auditors during the assessment process. The FHCB will be informed of any finding of non-conformance and will be provided with a copy of the assessment report.
An FHCB will be given three months to rectify any non-conformance, failing which its application for recognition will either be disapproved, or it may be delisted from JAKIM’s list of recognized FHCBs.
All findings of the Auditors are to be tabled to the IHRC for approval.
Broadly, the recognition process is as follows:
- The IHRC will decide whether to approve an FHCB’s application based on the Auditors’ findings;
- A recognition, once approved, will be valid for three years; and
- JAKIM will notify the FHCB of the IHRC’s decision.
A list of the FHCBs which have been granted recognition will be used as a reference by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.
An FHCB will be required to submit an annual report to JAKIM in the format prescribed in the MPR-FHCB.
Any applicant which has been unsuccessful in its application for recognition or which has been delisted is given up to one year to resubmit an application.
Classification of Recognition
Schedule 2 of the MPR-FHCB sets out nine categories for which recognition may be sought, namely:
- Slaughterhouse and processing plant;
- Food and beverage products;
- Food premises and services;
- Consumer goods;
- Cosmetics and personal care;
- Pharmaceutical products (including health supplements and traditional medicines);
- Medical devices;
- Supply chain and logistics; and
Schedule 2 also sets out examples of products that fall within each of the above categories.
An FHCB may only claim recognition in respect of the categories for which it has been granted recognition. It is prohibited from making any statement regarding its recognition that is misleading or unauthorized or which would bring the FHCB into disrepute.
The MPR-FHCB sets out detailed requirements that an FHCB that has been recognized is required to comply with.3 These requirements include:
- management and human resource requirements (including the requirement for a Shariah advisor, Halal Certification Approval Committee and Shariah Auditors and their qualifications);
- the duty to notify JAKIM of prescribed changes in circumstances relating to the FHCB or its activities; and
- legal requirements (including the requirement to be owned and operated by Muslims with permanent citizenship).
All halal products certified by a recognized FHCB entering the Malaysian market must be marked or labeled with a halal logo and QR code.
Insofar as meat and animal-based products exported to Malaysia are concerned, the FHCB must, among its other obligations:
- ensure all meat and animal-based products are halal certified from the country of origin;
- ensure the abattoirs, processing plants and premises comply with the Malaysian Protocol for the Halal Meat and Poultry Production, Malaysian Standards, the Trade Descriptions Act 2011, and other related regulations; and
- monitor and supervise matters at the abattoirs, processing plants, and premises to ensure that the halal standards are met.
About other halal products exported to Malaysia, the FHCB must, among its other obligations:
- ensure all semi-finished products, intermediate products, raw materials, ingredients, and finished products are halal certified from the country of origin;
- ensure all products comply with the Malaysian Standard, the Trade Descriptions Act 2011, and other related regulations; and
- Monitor and exercise a supervisory role at the production plants.
- Capacity Development
An FHCB shall ensure that at least one of its personnel attends a Halal Technical Capacity Development Program conducted by JAKIM within the first year of its recognition as an FHCB.
Every complaint made against an FHCB will be evaluated and reviewed by the International Halal Authority Body which shall issue an evaluation report to the IHRC which shall thereafter decide whether JAKIM should revoke the recognition or delist the FHCB.
The MPR-FHCB sets out 14 situations in which an FHCB may be delisted. These include:
- non-compliance with the procedures of each class for which the FHCB has been accorded recognition;
- non-compliance with the MPR-FHCB;
- failure to monitor the halal status of its certified plants, abattoirs, or establishments;
- failure to employ competent workers;
- failure to rectify any non-conformance found against the FHCB as a result of surveillance assessment;
- the finding of guilt against the FHCB in any legal action by the court;
- loss of legal status of the FHCB in its country of origin;
- involvement in any illegal activity; and
- misuse of any certification and logo of products.
An FHCB may appeal any decision of the IHRC within 14 working days after receiving the decision following the date of the letter.
The appeal will be evaluated by a Technical Committee appointed by the IHRC. An appeal that fulfills the Technical Committee’s evaluation shall be presented to the Appeal Committee who shall decide on any reassessment, disapproval, revocation, delisting or any orders that do not comply with the application or recognition requirements. The Appeal Committee’s decisions are final, recorded, and will be notified in writing to the FHCB.
The effect of the relevant decision shall not be suspended pending the appeal.
Change of Ownership
Any change of ownership of an FHCB will result in a withdrawal of the recognition of the FHCB concerned.
Malaysia is, without a doubt, a significant market for halal products and services. The MPR-FHCB is much more detailed than the existing Procedures for Appointment of Foreign Halal Certification Bodies which it will replace. Although some of the requirements in the MPR-FHCB need to be clarified or explained, FHCBs will be able to better identify the standards which they are required to meet and adhere to in providing halal certification services in respect of products and services for the Malaysian market when the MPR-FHCB comes into force.