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Halal Certification

UNDERSTANDING HALAL AND HARAM

Muslims use two terms to describe food - halal and haram. Halal is an Arabic word which means permitted or lawful. Haram means forbidden or unlawful. Most diets and food are considered to be halal unless they are specified or mentioned in the Quran or Hadith (Traditions of Prophet Muhammad).

THE MUIS HALAL CERTIFICATION SCHEME

Introduced in 1978, it is a nationally-recognised scheme which certifies a particular food or product as halal. An establishment which is awarded such a certificate is allowed to affix the MUIS halal logo on its products or display the logo on its premises.

THE BENEFITS OF HAVING A MUIS HALAL CERTIFICATE

The certificate is an authoritative, reliable and independent testimony to support your claim as a manufacturer or operator that your products or food meet halal requirements. Muslim customers will have greater confidence in consuming such products or food.

If you are an exporter, the certificate may also help meet the importing country's trade entry rules. This may enhance your product's marketibility. The certificate is an internationally accepted means to assure the halal status of food or products.

APPLYING FOR A LICENCE

Before making any formal application, you must first ensure that you can meet the conditions set by MUIS for manufacturing or preparing your halal products or food. An application form is available from the MUIS office.

Some of the conditions you must fulfil to get the certificate:

  • You must start your halal operations before any inspection can be carried out.
  • If your establishment is a fast-food chain or operates under a franchise scheme, you must ensure that all outlets run halal operations.
  • There must be at least two Muslim employees involved in the production or preparation of halal food. Their presence is vital in helping to continually verify that all food prepared meets the Islamic requirements and conditions set by MUIS. They must also be involved in the receiving of halal food or meat supplies.
  • Only halal food and drinks are to be served. Pork, lard, other by-products and alcohol are not to be served. They cannot be used in any of the food or drinks.
  • All meat or poultry used must be slaughtered by qualified Muslims.
  • All foreign halal certificates for imported meat or poultry must be issued by those Islamic authorities approved by MUIS.
  • Animal-based ingredients, such as gelatine and shortening, must be derived from a halal source.
  • All crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils and equipment, chillers, freezers and cold rooms must be ritually cleansed by MUIS-appointed official if they have been used previously for preparing food with pork.
  • Halal food must be prepared and stored separately from non-halal food and items, with proper signs to distinguish between them.
  • Mixing of crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils and equipment for halal and non-halal food which may occur during collection, washing or storing must be avoided. Separate washing and drying equipment for such items must be provided.
  • All staff must not bring non-halal food or beverages onto the premises.
  • (Other conditions are stipulated in the application forms for various certificates)

INSPECTION OF OPERATIONS

MUIS Halal Inspection Officers will conduct an unannounced visit to the applicant's premises to ascertain that the production or preparation of food meets halal requirements. They will also check that there is proper supervision by Muslim employees in ensuring that the halal status of the operations is maintained consistently. A repeat inspection may be carried out before an application is approved.

GETTING THE CERTIFICATE

Once the halal requirements set by MUIS are met, the applicant will be issued a licence in the form of halal certificate. Periodic inspections will be made thereafter. The licence is valid for one year and is renewable on expiry.

Types of Halal certificates:

  • Product certificate is issued to food manufacturers for their locally-made products to meet the needs of Muslim consumers, both locally and abroad. This certificate is needed if they are a pre-requisite for trade entry requirements into some importing Muslim countries.
  • Eating establishment certificate is issued to eating establishments such as restaurants, foodstalls and fast-food chains.
  • Imported meat certificate is issued to local meat importers to endorse foreign halal-slaughtering certificates.
  • Poultry abattoir certificate is issued to abattoir owners for their fresh halal-slaughtered poultry.

Acknowledgement: We would like to thank Zahid Ahmad, Head, Halal Certification Section, MUIS for the kind permission to reproduce this article. The orginal article and more information could be obtained from Halal Certification - MUIS Services