By Husna Yusop
PUTRAJAYA (Aug 25, 2011): The Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has agreed that independent laboratories be allowed to be used by operators to check whether their products are free from contamination.
They can do this before applying for a halal certificate from Jakim or as a mechanism to counter-check the results issued by Jakim, its Halal Hub Division principal assistant director Hakimah Mohd Yusoff said today.
She said this is in order to speed up the approval process as at the moment it sometimes takes too long for the Chemistry Department to test the product samples sent by Jakim.
“If the result is negative (product is contaminated), it is not fair to the industry players as we have made them wait for a long time. So, what we are doing now is some sort of improvement.
“We are now looking at the criteria of the labs. We already have the conditions to be fulfilled and we are cooperating with the Chemistry Department which would recognise labs that meet their standards and requirements,” she said.
Hakimah said this after a dialogue between Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and small-medium industry operators and those involved in the halal industry.
Also present were MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and Jakim director-general Othman Mustapha.
Early this month, there were complaints from several halal food producers whose applications for halal certificates were revoked after traces of pig DNA were allegedly found in their products.
Speaking on behalf of the food producers, Chua had said they had tested their products at independent laboratories and found no traces of pig DNA.
At yesterday’s meeting, Jakim also agreed not to immediately revoke the status of halal certificates from operators whose products and equipment were found to contain pig DNA.
Instead, Hakimah said, their certificates would be suspended temporarily to allow some time for them to do the ‘samak’ or cleansing process.
“Once the products have gone through the cleansing and are confirmed free from contamination, the operators have to apply for a renewal of their halal certificates,” she said.