In the vast and diverse world of Halal certification, a new initiative is taking shape. The Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC), the body that represents all Muslim nations globally, has embarked on a mission to establish a single, universally accepted Halal standard. This announcement was made by the Secretary-General of the Halal Association of Pakistan (HAP), Asad Sajjad.
The OIC has entrusted the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) with the task of creating a Halal standard that will be universally accepted by all Muslims and workable for Halal certification bodies worldwide. SMIIC, which oversees the regulation and enforcement of Halal certifying bodies, has developed a universal Halal standard known as the OIC-SMIIC Halal standards. This standard applies to Halal manufacturing units, Halal Certification bodies, and Halal accreditation agencies.
The next step, according to Sajjad, is to create a common OIC-SMIIC logo. This logo, recognized by all certifying, regulatory, and legislative bodies, will serve as an authentic and credible symbol for all manufacturers and certifying bodies. It will also be recognized by all Halal consumers as the OIC-SMIIC Halal logo.
This logo will accompany the certifying body’s logo on products and services. The World Halal Assembly, scheduled to be held in Islamabad on June 04, 2014, aims to provide a platform for religious scholars and technical and scientific experts from around the world to discuss the importance of using OIC-SMIIC Halal standards.
Currently, there are over 400 known Halal certifying bodies and organizations worldwide, but only a fraction of them are recognized or registered with international organizations. The distribution of these bodies is uneven, with some regions having more than necessary and others having none. This imbalance leads to fierce competition and potential discord, primarily due to varying standards and compromises.
The world of Halal standards is a labyrinth. Each country has its own Halal standards, and sometimes, different organizations within the same country have their standards. While these standards are similar in most aspects, they differ on critical points, such as types of stunning, acceptance of mechanical slaughtering, and ethanol concentration in final products. These differences have led to cross-country certification by some certifying bodies, creating unproductive competition and potential enmity between various Halal/Islamic organizations, a situation that is forbidden in Islam.
The multitude of Halal standards worldwide has led to confusion, misunderstanding, and abuse in the Halal audit and certification process. Supply chains are disrupted, creating artificial shortages of raw materials. Losing Halal status can result in significant revenue loss for Halal manufacturers and producers. The current situation of Halal certification is precarious and unnecessarily complex. It’s a ticking time bomb, and when it explodes, we’ll all have to bear the dreaded consequences, including unpleasantness, disharmony, and rivalry.