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Thursday, 27 November 2008

Halal Agency Readies Global Standard Draft For Six Industries By Next May


HONG KONG, Nov 27 (Bernama) - The International Halal Integrity Alliance (IHI) is working on draft guidelines for at least six industries feedback at the World Halal Forum (WHF) next May in Kuala Lumpur in its goal of forging a global Syariah-compliant standard.

It is now engaging stakeholders and governments in various countries including non-Muslim states to tap best practices and expertise, IHI chief executive officer Darhim Hashinm told Bernama.

"Like in logistics for example, we went to Holland because that is where the expertise is. The Port of Rotterdam is the first halal services certified port, so it is only natural," said Darhim who held an industry roundtable with representatives from Australia, Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong on food services here.

The non-governmental organisation, sanctioned by the 57-member country Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC)and registered last year, has identified developing standards for 10 sectors and aims to come up with recommendations for at least six by May.

The areas involved are logistics and cold storage, food services, laboratory testing, finance, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and toiletries, animal feed, animal welfare, slaughter process and non-meat processed food.

Darhim explained that a host country will be identified for each sector and it would not necessarily be a Muslim country, citing Holland as the lead point for halal logistics.

"We started with logistics because it is the hardest area, there is no benchmark whereas for others it is a lot easier like in Islamic finance, Malaysia and Bahrain are the leaders, and in animal welfare, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are very strong on this, we just have to exclude the part on pigs," he said.

Darhim stressed that although IHI is based in Malaysia, which pledged RM15 million to fund the organisation, the bid for a global halal standard should not be perceived as a Malaysia agenda.

"The evolution is already happening, Muslim countries and governments are becoming more conscious of the need for a global standard, it is changing because Muslims are travelling more and they are getting more exposed to non-Muslim countries like China and the Europe region," he said.

But the task is not without its obstacles, Darhim admitted, especially in dealing with countries which already have well-entrenched halal certification systems.

"There s a lot of sovereignty involved but we are not asking them to throw out their systems. We are engaging them, to come out with a standard operating procedure and we will promote the importance of accreditation which will separate the cowboys from the genuine players," he said.

"In a simple way, IHI will audit the auditors. Central Asian countries, Palestine and several other countries have also approached us for assistance to develop their systems," he added.

Kazuo Nakamichi, director if the Islamic Centre in Japan, said although his country has a small Muslim population, there were industries which were interested in a global halal standard because they want to trade with Muslim countries.

The industry roundtable saw Nakamichi and fellow participants exchange experience and discussed concerns over raw resources, cross-contamination and uncertified halal labelling by food suppliers and restaurants.

Cheong Loon Lai, Malaysia's Consul General in Hong Kong, who also attended the meeting said a group of his counterparts here, led by the United Arab Emirates, had taken recently the lead to speak to major hotels here to have halal menus.

"This will make it easier for us to host functions at such establishments and the response has been positive. The Shangri La Hotel, for instance, has been very supportive," Cheong said.

Darhim lauded the move diplomats' move, saying that it could be emulated by envoys of OIC members in other countries.

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Alfalah Consulting - Kuala Lumpur: www.alfalahconsulting.com
Consultant/Speaker/Motivator : www.ahmad-sanusi-husain.com 
Islamic Investment Malaysia: www.islamic-invest-malaysia.com

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