Thursday, September 29, 2016

Halal certification - the more the merrier?

Malaysian government has JAKIM (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia) for years on ends since Mahathir's days as PM. Today, many including HRH Johor have questioned its annual budget of a staggering RM1 Billion.

What in the world does JAKIM do? Well, among other stuff, it looks after halal certification so that Muslims can be assured of the kosher-ness of a product, especially food stuff such as to avoid haram ingredients like porcine DNA.

RM1 Billion a year budget!

But now a Muslim NGO is getting into the act of halal certification. No one knows its process, procedures and QA other than it's a Muslim organization known as IKIAM (Malaysia International Institute of Islamic Cooperation).

But IKIAM is just going about its new-found intention despite JAKIM saying IKIAM's intention to issue halal certification is illegal.

As it's a Muslim NGO, it would appear no one, not even JAKIM, dare to touch it.

Isn't it marvellous that, so long as you profess to be a Muslim NGO, you can't be touched.

But it brings us to the query, if IKIAM is okay, then why should we have JAKIM? Let's get rid of it and save RM1 Billion a year.

And are we going to have double certification on an issue of halal-ness?

From Malay Mail Online (extracts only): 

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 ― Consumers will not be confused by the new halal logo only for Muslim-made products, the Malaysia International Institute of Islamic Cooperation (Ikiam) claimed when saying it will give them more choice.

Ikiam secretary Mohd Shamsuddin Damin also said the non-governmental organisation plans to issue the new logo to Muslim companies for free.

“Nobody will be confused, it's a straightforward co-existing branding exercise,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted this week, adding that Ikiam will explain the new logo to the public that may be launched as early as next January.

Currently, the halal logo and certification are under the purview of the the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim). The department has said Ikiam’s plan is illegal without its endorsement.

Despite this, Mohd Shamsuddin said Ikiam will introduce two different logos: one to denote that a product is Muslim-made and another to certify a product as a Muslim-made and halal.

The first category of “Muslim product” is aimed at giving a boost to small Muslim businesses that have yet to obtain Jakim's halal certification, especially cottage industries that would not be able to meet the latter's requirements yet, he said.

Applying for Jakim's halal certification may also take a long time and be too costly for these small-time Muslim operators, Mohd Shamsuddin asserted.

“For example, a small company that produces sambal tumis, so they bottle it, the production is minimal, maybe 50 bottles a day, family operation, for the beginning they need some process, some support before they can go for halal certification, because turnover of the financial year may not even be enough to pay for Jakim certification cost,” he explained, adding that it may cost thousands to engage consultants.

For Muslim businesses operating out of their own houses, they would be unable to get Jakim's halal certification since it bars homemade products and requires production to be done at an independent premise, he said.

“We will have our people to assist them in business development so they have the capability to apply for Jakim's halal certification,” he said when describing Ikiam's ultimate aim to assist in the obtaining of official recognition of Muslim-made products' halal status.


  1. I believe the situation in Australia is confusing as well.
    Being secular country with a mainly Christian or Agnostic population, the Australian Government had stayed away from the Halal issue.
    However, Australia has a modest Muslim population but increasingly heavily Islamised , in line with Global trends. I'm sure Anwar Ibrahim had nothing to do with it.

    Hence a growing demand for Halal labelled foods, which then leads to a legal matter on Trade Descriptions. It is an offence to make false claims (yes, that includes stating "Halal" when it is not) on the packaging of a product.
    There is also a lucrative export trade in meat and processed foods with Middle East to protect, which requires a qualified certification body.

    I have not seen a common Halal certification body in Australia.
    Since the Australian government is reluctant to get government machinery directly involved in this, I foresee the confusion will continue.

    1. in OZ states have different rules hence there is very few common or uniformed standards