DESPITE focus on increasing halal exports to tap growing global demand, a shocking 31 per cent of applications by 4,700 local firms failed to comply with the necessary standards.
Department of Standards director-general Fadilah Baharin disclosed this to The Malay Mail yesterday saying these companies did not understand how to achieve the halalan toyibban compliance to meet syariah requirements.
“The halal logo or halal certification does not only mean they don’t have any pork or alcohol in their products. These applicants failed to understand Muslim and non-Muslim consumers also want assurances their goods are not in any way contaminated or transported along with other non-halal goods.”
This includes packaging, labelling and logistics of foods, and preparation procedures that are regularly inspected by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department officers.
Fadilah said the syariah method of slaughtering to avoid microbial contamination basically covered the toyibban part of halalan toyibban.
She said the growth of halal food market represented a significant potential for international companies, not only in Muslim countries but western markets with significant Muslim populations.
The government recently signed several memoranda of understanding with Australia, Canada, the United States and South America, among others, related to the halal market.
Fadilah said US interest was especially significant as it planned to adopt Malaysia’s halal certification standards with a view of exporting their goods to Arab nations.
She said it was important for halal industry “risk factors” within Malaysia be resolved fast given this global outlook as they would create complexity in definition, requirements and variations, especially when interpreting the same requirements across geographical and cultural backgrounds.
Fadilah said to help promote greater understanding, the department jointly commissioned an in-depth research, a first, on the local halal industry with Smart Partner Persis Management and Services Sdn Bhd.
She said the report would not only benefit companies and organisations, but brand owners and government officials, adding it would profile 650 consumers and 350 industry players from food and non-food sectors.
It is expected to be completed by next month.
The department also plans to roll out pilot workshops to create awareness among local industry players on the need for halalan toyibban compliance.