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UAE kicks off halal standardisation worldwide

10/12/12  gulfnews.com

All 57 Islamic countries will have to adhere to the set standards or lose certification

  • Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News
  • The Halal Food Middle East exhibition in Sharjah.

Dubai: The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma) kicked off work on unifying standards for halal foods and cosmetics. The standardisation will be applied in 57 Islamic countries within the next three years, a senior government official told Gulf News.

After the endorsement by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the halal standards will be applied to food sold to Muslims living in non-Muslim countries, said Mohammad Saleh Badri, director-general of Esma. OIC is the second largest inter-governmental organisation after the United Nations and it comprises all 57 Islamic countries,

These new standards would result in reducing the time and cost of halal certification by 30 to 50 per cent, he said on the sidelines of the Halal Food Middle East exhibition in Sharjah yesterday. “The industry will love this idea because now they are showing everyone how they do their halal procedures, that itself is a cost. If there’s one certified scheme, it will be accepted everywhere.”

Esma’s unified standards will be made mandatory and any violations will result in revoking the halal certification, Badri said.

Developing a global halal standardisation system has long been debated among Islamic countries and called for by the industry but there has been little consensus on how to do it. Currently, different countries have their own requirements and systems of standardisation, certification and compliance.

Esma aims to “harmonise” these standards, Badri said.

Esma is now working on a scheme on how to certify halal products and unifying the procedure for certification with one set of standards. It will establish committees, including key representatives from major halal product importing and exporting countries, and propose specific standards. If approved, then it will develop a unified process for certification.

The UAE was appointed Chair of the technical committee for Halal food and cosmetics standards set up by the OIC during a recent meeting in Turkey.

Guidelines

The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma) is planning to issue guidelines for halal certification bodies in the UAE within the next six months, said Mohammad Saleh Badri, director-general of Esma.

“It will be compulsory for those who want to be a halal certification body,” he said.

After the guidelines are issued, the certification bodies will be monitored and, if found compliant with standards, accredited.

Esma is also working on producing a unified stamp or mark for halal products entering the UAE that can also be introduced to the GCC, Badri said.

“It’s a mark that will show that the product has gone through a standard certification process,” he said.

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