Presentation on theme: "PHILIPPINE HALAL CERTIFICATION AND STANDARDS By: Atty. Hj. Abdul Rahman R.T. Linzag President/CEO – Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines Secretary."— Presentation transcript:
PHILIPPINE HALAL CERTIFICATION AND STANDARDS By: Atty. Hj. Abdul Rahman R.T. Linzag President/CEO – Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines Secretary General – World Halal Council
At the outset, permit me to congratulate the brothers and sisters from the government of Pakistan particularly the Agriculture and Food Department in organizing this important Pakistan Workshop on Halal Food here in Karachi, Pakistan, and for this, I wish to personally extend my gratitude to the Honorable Secretary of the Agriculture and Food, Mr. Hamid Ali Khan of the Ministry of Livestock and Dairy of the Government of Pakistan and all other officers in facilitating my travel to your country which I have longed to visit after its independence as an Islamic country.
Halal Certification in the Philippines has been a useful tool in helping the Muslims in the Philippines identify products that are acceptable for use and consumption of the Muslims in the midst of intricate and diverse production of various processed foods most of which are produced by company owned and operated by non- Muslims. The Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines (IDCP) which is a federation of more than 90 Muslim religious organizations in the Philippines organized in the different municipalities and Muslim communities in the Philippines, have started to formulate its rules and procedures in conducting verification and validation of halal claims including the setting up of standards on halal certification since 1987 or thereabouts.
It is difficult to impose halal standards and procedure to the manufacturing and food processing industry in the Philippines, being a non-Muslim country, for a simple reason that since halal process is basically rooted as a religious requirement for Muslims, the government could not accept its rules without violating the separation of the Church and the State which is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, Therefore, halal certification is left to us especially the IDCP which is a non-government organization which is purely voluntary on the part of the manufacturing companies. Halal Certification is a certification of religious compliance on the halal requirements of a Muslim individual.
Except in a purely Islamic state, halal certification comes as a purely voluntary device which a company may avail generally as a marketing tool to give them a marketing advantage over other products. On account of this situation, it was always difficult for the IDCP in the Philippines to require companies to enforce its regulations and standards on the manufacturing companies who, in general, would prefer to come to a halal certifying body which do not have stringent requirements preferably one which could easily issue halal certification even without proper verification of the product.
As a matter of fact, was it not for the requirements of Muslim countries governments and individuals to accept products only when they have a proper halal certification, these manufacturers and food producers would not actually take the trouble of even inviting any Muslim individual or group to their manufacturing premises. The IDCP is the pioneer of halal certification in the Philippines and which, during the late 80’s have already been working for technical researches and development to standardize halal certification according to the various kinds of products that need halal certification.
As a matter of fact, it was only in 1995 or thereabouts that some companies started knocking at the door of the IDCP for the halal certification of their products more specifically on products that are exported to Muslim countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Philippines was an agricultural country for many years but unfortunately, it has not produced sufficient meat products and livestocks that can supply foreign markets in comparison with other countries such as Australia and New Zealand. The products therefore of the Philippines are mostly processed food and even processed meats in addition to agricultural products such as coconut oil and sugar.
When Halal became part of the Codex Alimentarius of the United Nations in 1998 or thereabouts, some countries including the Philippines started to notice the need for halal certification. In fact, our President in the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, heard for the first time the need for halal certification at a globalization conference held in Indonesia in 2001 or thereabouts. When she came to know the need of a halal certification and realizing that this is a Muslim concern, upon arrival in Manila, meet with all her cabinet members and directed each department to formulate a halal development program so that they can take advantage of the halal industry and as a result, all the different departments of the Philippine government including Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Health, even the Foreign Affairs have their own halal development programs and specifically creating a halal certification office under the Office of the President.
It was during that time, through the Office of the President, that all companies were directed to avail of the halal certification benefits for their products. This had a positive and negative effect in halal certification. The positive effect is that, company producers of food and non-food products opened their mind into halal certification of their products and therefore it will provide more benefits to Muslims for employment and for Muslims to consume the products without much difficulty in finding as to whether the product is halal or haram. But the negative effect is that, the office of the government that issues halal certification and as a result even foods which uses enzymes, processing aids and even raw materials from pork origin were certified halal by this certifying office.
As a result of this directive of the president, the certification program of the IDCP suffered some set back because some of the halal certified companies of the IDCP received letters from the government office which told them that the IDCP halal certification that they have was fake because their halal certification is the legal and the valid one for reasons that it is a government office that issued halal certification. It was this situation that compelled the IDCP to file a Petition before the Supreme Court of the Philippines, a Petition to declare the Executive Order of the President as null and void.
On July 9, 2003, the Supreme Court of the Philippines decided the issue en banc and declared that the government office in the Philippines cannot issue halal certification because the halal certification is a religious function which only a national religious organization can issue. The said Executive Order No. 46 was declared null and void and the certification of the government under the Office on Muslim Affairs was declared null and void and the said office was prohibited from issuing halal certification. The said judicial decree declared that the IDCP is the official halal certifying authority in the Philippines. This decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines was also reinforced by the rulings of the halal certifying bodies in Malaysia, Indonesia and many other countries, the last of which was the United Arab Emirates which accredited the IDCP as the official certifying body in the Philippines that they could accept.
In 1999, the World Halal Council was formed in Jakarta, Indonesia. It aims to have a mutual cooperation and respect among halal certifying bodies worldwide and standardize halal certification procedure and technicalities. In addition, this body is operating as a global body that oversees and attempts to enforce rules and procedure among certifying bodies worldwide in order that the halal certification which is in fact a worldwide program that is intended to serve the Ummah while at the same time giving opportunities to Muslim organizations and individuals the opportunity to do da’wah to Muslims and non-Muslims in their own locality.
Generally, Islam is a misunderstood religion and halal certification has some many misconceptions not only among the non-Muslims but even among us Muslims. Some of these misconceptions are: 1) That halal certified products are only for Muslims; 2) That when the non-Muslims takes halal, they will become Muslims; 3) That only the Imams can issue Halal Certification; 4) That animals slaughtered by Christians or Jews, which is allowed in the Qur’an can also be certified as halal; 5) That halal food can only be produced by Muslims and many others
These are some of the misconceptions on halal certifications, but of course, the proper way to understand halal certification is to know the meaning and significance of the word “beyond reasonable doubt”. The role of a certifying body is to determine whether a product that he is about to certify is composed of all the raw materials, processing aids including the packaging are of halal origin and processed without the possibility of contamination by non halal or haram material or ingredients and that he is convinced this is so beyond reasonable doubt. Halal Certification is in fact considered now as a certification of quality. In the Philippines, there a number of certification process and procedure issued by different bodies among them are the department of health, bureau of food and drugs and their concerns are to enforce the government requirements on certain food and non-food products.
For example, that this product must contain Vitamin A, B, C or D regardless of what source these Vitamins came from and when these requirements are complied with, the company receives the licensed from the BFAD. The halal certification will look into the quality and source of materials that are used in producing the product in compliance with the requirements of the government. Vitamin A for example, some of which are from pork skin, some are from vegetables and some are from other form of animals which only technically equipped certifying body can validate with credibility. Other certifying body such as ISO refers to international standards. This refers to management and organizational matters in the production of halal products. Other certifying bodies like HACCP, etc., These are on procedural requirements on how people should work, how the employers and workers should work without encountering hazardous materials and substances within the working premises.
GMP is another certification but this refers to hygiene and sanitation in the preparation especially on food products. As we will observe except for halal certification, most of them are concerned on the quality of the products being produced such as the origin of its raw materials, how they were processed, the safeties were imposed on preventing any contamination to the products both from raw materials or its finished products. We may have halal certified beef but in the storage proper, they are placed in the storage along side with pork meats and other haram substances. So this cannot be easily noticed or seen by person who merely visits a company once a year to issue the renewal of his halal certificate in this product.
IDCP maintains several of their halal assurance officers on all halal manufacturing companies to validate the raw materials and monitor the production of halal products before a certification is issued on this product. These are of course in addition to the routinary visit and annual validation and processes. Formation of Halal Standards: As a result of the stringent requirements of halal being imposed by the IDCP, it has formulated halal assurance policies on every production line such as slaughtering of halal meat, processed food manufacturing, non-food products such as personal care, packaging, medicine and logistics., These policies are being reinforced by the halal standard which is approved by the World Halal Council as an acceptable halal standard.
Most of the problems encountered by the halal certifying bodies are: 1) The full cooperation and disclosure of the company of the various ingredients on their products; 2) The credibility of other certifying body in other countries which certify some raw materials or ingredients being imported to the Philippines either as raw materials or ingredients for a product to be certified by IDCP. Some of these products are known to be manufactured in countries where there are no certifying bodies but certified by a trading company located in another country who actually sells the product to countries that ultimately manufactures them; 3) Some certifying bodies will also issue certification to products even if they do not understand the procedure on how the products were processed and what raw materials were used, what clarifying agents were used, preservatives, enzymes and others. 4) Some certifying bodies also rely on laboratory test of the finished product and they will certify even if they have no authority from the actual manufacturer of the product.
These are some of the problems encountered by credible certifying bodies and which the World Halal Council is trying to narrow down on its members. Since Halal Certification is now considered a certification of quality, we therefore highly recommend that Muslims should continue to demand for a halal certified product because non certified products are definitely doubtful and only a credible certification can remove that doubt and to keep us away from non-compliance to the guidance of Allah s.w.t. Wabillahi Tawfiq Walhidayah!