Harmonisation of Halal standard is an urge in the current market and there are several main aspects that we need to focus on for harmonisation. In the following session, we will discuss about aspects in Halal standard that should be harmonise between ASEAN countries.
Malaysia Halal certification is based on the Malaysian standard of MS 1500:2009 which is the General Guidelines covered the Halal Food Production, Preparation, Handling and Storage. Brunei Darussalam standard is PBD 24:2007 on Halal Food which prepared by its national Religious Council. Thailand National Halal Standard of THS 24000:2552 regarding General Guidelines on Halal Products is prepared by the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand. Indonesia Halal standard is known as General Guidelines of Halal Assurance System LPPOM MUI and being published on year 2008. Finally, Singapore’s MUIS Halal Certification Standard is regarding the General Guidelines for the Handling and Processing of Halal Food. All this standards will be compare and contrast in the following session to observe the similarity and differences. Each of the standards will be call for short in the text by national standard.
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Animal welfare is being regard as an important aspect in Halal slaughtering. Slaughtering act which result in poor cut, bad bleeding and slow loss of consciousness and pain are considered as violating the animal welfare in Islamic Law (Chambers and Grandin, 2001). In Thailand National Halal Standard, it state that animal welfare should be protected according to Islamic law and performed exactly to decrease animal maltreatment. Hence, animals are required to be feed with enough water and taken a rest properly before slaughter and the animal shall be instantly slaughter by sharp knife and their skin should not be cut before it is completely dead. MUIS Halal Certification Standard of Singapore regarding general guidelines for the handling and processing of Halal food also stated that animal should be rested and fed. In addition, it had stated that area to hold the animals before slaughtering should not be near to the slaughtering place by making a significant distance to ensure that the animals in holding area will not see or sense the slaughtering action.
Indonesia’s Guidelines on Chicken Slaughtering and Chicken Meat Handling in Small Scale Chicken Slaughterhouses also had mentioned that animal welfare should be applied based on several basic principles which are freedom from hunger, thirst, discomfort, pain, injury, disease, fear and distress, while freedom to express normal behaviour. However, others countries Halal standard such as standard from Malaysia and Brunei do not clearly stated about actions to protect animal welfare. Hence, these actions should be harmonised among countries to ensure that all the animals are treated well and accordingly prior slaughtering to reduce the possibility of maltreatment.
In different countries, there may have different methods for slaughtering the animals, hence a standard should be set among ASEAN countries. By having a harmonised Halal standard, the slaughtering processes can be harmonized and trades of meats between ASEAN countries or importation of meats from other countries can be facilitated.
Lawful animals to be slaughters are refer to poultry and ruminant. Examples of poultry are chicken, duck, turkey, ostrich and quail of any age or sex; while ruminant permitted to slaughtered, processed and stored are cattle, buffalo, goat, sheep, deer, camel and others ruminants (JAKIM, 2008). Fishes and other marine animals are excluded and any form of merciful killing methods also can be used (MUIS, 2005). Most of the Halal slaughtering guidelines in ASEAN countries are similar, and only certain points are dissimilar and those points should be harmonised to achieve better similarity and acceptance of Halal meat product among these countries. Although a ASEAN general guidelines on the preparation and handling of Halal food is available, however the slaughtering rules stated are too general, so a more specific rules should be published to ensure the practice of slaughtering will be same among ASEAN nations.
On the other hand, the proper pronunciation of the phrase to recite prior the slaughtering acts on animal also slightly different among countries. Although the ASEAN general guidelines had stated as “Bismillah â€¦”, but most countries do not follow this wording. Although all the phrase are refers to similar meaning which is “In the name of Allah Most Gracious, Most Merciful” or “In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest”, Malaysia stated the phrase to be invoked immediately before slaughtering in Arabic “”, while Brunei version is “”, Thailand version is “Bismillah Allahu Akhbar”, Indonesia version is “Bismillahi Allahu Akbar”, and Singapore version only stated to recite Basmalah but did not stated the exact phrase wording. The Muslim slaughterman should recite the same phrase prior slaughtering, so harmonization can be should be done to achieve it.
In ASEAN general guidelines, it only stated that it should severe the trachea, oesophagus, main arteries and veins of the neck region, while Malaysia, Brunei and Thailand’s Halal Standard are more specific and specified that slaughtering act shall begin with an incision on the neck at some point just below the glottis and after the glottis for long necked animals, then the part to severe are trachea, oesophagus, and both the carotid arteries and jugular veins to hasten the bleeding and death of the animal. It also required that bleeding be spontaneous and complete. Malaysia and Brunei’s standard also displayed the slaughtering part for chicken and cattle clearly with figure. On the other hand, different term also had been use to describe the part of the animal, where trachea is known as windpipe and oesophagus is known as gullet in Singapore Standard. Singapore’s Standard only stated to cut the windpipe, gullet and jugular vein but didn’t mentioned on the arteries that should be severed; while Indonesia’s Halal standard only mentioned on cutting the trachea, esophagus and two neck arteries but didn’t mentioned on its veins. The Indonesia’s Halal standard also required that the position of the to-be-slaughtered chicken to facing the Kiblat which said to be recommended by Islamic Law, but this requirement did not found in any standard in the other ASEAN countries. Hence, parts of animals, term to define and method for slaughtering act should be defined clearly and better with figures, so the slaughterman could slaughter the animal accordingly and standardized among ASEAN countries.
Stunning is a step to make the animal unconscious before the slaughtering to eliminate possible pain, discomfort and stress from slaughtering process (Chambers and Grandin, 2001). Although process of stunning is not encourage in most of the Halal Guideline, but it is permitted if it carried out within the specified condition. The ASEAN general guidelines which established on the year 1997 had stated that only electrical and mechanical stunning can be use and this stunning should not kill or injured the animal. Poultry are generally agreed to be stunned with electrical water bath stunning method among the ASEAN countries. Only Indonesia Guidelines on slaughtering had mentioned additional one type of stunning method which is manual stunner where it operated by touching the chicken head with a metal electrified with certain voltage and ampere. This type of method had not been stated in the guidelines of others countries and may not be permitted in some of these countries.
The ASEAN general guidelines stated that only mechanical stunner should be use in cattle and buffaloes and stunner which do not penetrate or break the skull should be use to avoid causing any injuries to the animal and it stated that non-penetrative type (mushroom head) percussion stunner should be allowed. However, according to the decision of Malaysia Fatwa, non-penetrative captive bolt (mushroom head gun) is unlawful, but it allow electrical stunning method which of the type of head only stunner other than mechanical stunner. Pneumatic percussive stunning for cows is allowed if the skull of the animal stunned did not crack or does not causing the death of the animal. Thailand’s Halal Standard had state that only electrically stunning of head-only stunner which attached to both electrodes on animal’s head are approved. It also allowed the non-penetrative stunner (mushroom head type) for stunning of animals. However, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore standard just stated that stunning process is allowed if it does not cause animal death before slaughtered but didn’t list out the specification for stunning. All the stunning method should be specified and harmonised, so cases of non-compliances to the importing countries standard will not occur during importation or exportation of the Halal meat product and the exporting product will not be banned and causes any economic loss.
In ASEAN general guidelines, it had stated that mechanical slaughter of chicken is permitted if certain condition can be fulfilled. However, according to Brunei Halal standard, it had totally prohibited the mechanical slaughtering of Halal animals, which means that the slaughtering act should only be done by the human slaughterer. On the other hand, Malaysia and Thailand have specified standard and condition stated in the guidelines of mechanical slaughtering of poultry, while Indonesia and Singapore do not specified terms and condition related to mechanical slaughtering in their Halal standard. According Fatwa Indonesia, they had decide that mechanical slaughtering which due to technological advancement are permitted and animal slaughtered with this method is Halal, but detail requirement are not stated.
Requirements for mechanical slaughtering in Malaysia and Thailand are mostly similar to the ASEAN general guideline’s requirement which required the slaughterer to clearly invoke the prayer of “Bismilah” before switching on the mechanical knife and the knife must be single steel blade type which is sharp, clean without contaminant and used for Halal slaughtering only. Whenever a slaughterer wants to leaves the slaughter place or replace by another slaughterer, he must stop the mechanical knife operation first and another slaughterer should again invoke the prayer before switching the knife again. The slaughtering act by mechanical knife should severe the trachea, oesophagus and both the carotid arteries and jugular veins of the poultry and any poultry which missed by the mechanical knife will be slaughter manually by hand.
The other two countries which do not have specified terms and condition about mechanical slaughtering should state their requirement in the standard either they permitted or prohibited the act, so it could reduce the confusion to the slaughtering house and ease the trade between countries. Since Brunei insist to prohibited on mechanical slaughtering, it might become the trade barrier of Halal food between ASEAN nations, so this issue must be treated well with harmonisation of standard and consensus among these nations.
According to Wan-Hassan (2007), he stated that delisting of Australian and New Zealand Halal meat producer by JAKIM Malaysia because of thoracic sticking had causes loss of export of these countries amounted to $53 million. However, later on a conference between Malaysia Fatwa Committee had discuss on this issue and decided that thoracic sticking method, which is the additional procedure after slaughtering of animal is permitted and the meats following this action are still considered as Halal. The decision of Fatwa Committee regarding this issue had stated several conditions to be fulfilled which are the slaughtering act must be complete before thoracic sticking where the trachea, oesophagus and two jugular veins must be severed. The animal must be died because of slaughtering, while thoracic sticking only functions to speed up the death which only can be performed 30 seconds after the slaughtering act.
There are no information could be found about thoracic sticking in others ASEAN countries Halal standard, so a detailed requirements and permission on thoracic sticking should be properly stated in each country’s regulation and being harmonised among them. This action could increase the Halal status of the product, while on the same time it could reduces the economic loss of exporting countries and prevent their product banned by ASEAN countries.
Labeling Standards and Requirement
The ASEAN general guidelines on Halal Food did not stated any labeling requirement about Halal food product. However, by referring to the labeling standards in each country’s Halal guidelines, we had found that Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Thailand had stated standard and requirement about labeling, while Indonesia Halal standard did not mentioned the requirement for labeling. Malaysia and Brunei standard are similar, while Thailand Halal standard is slightly different because it is more detail with more specification. Generally, Malaysia and Brunei Halal standard required that the labeling material used should be non-hazardous and Halal. Then, each container should be label with name of the product, nett weight, name and address of the manufacturer, importer and distributor, list of ingredients, code number identifying date and or batch number of manufacture and expiry date with country of origin. Meat products are required to label with date of slaughter and date of processing. Singapore Halal label guidelines is obtained from its certification terms and condition where it stated the Halal label specification such as length, width, colour, serial number, durability and material.
Thailand requirement for labeling are different from the countries discussed, which required the producer to specifiy legibly the product ingredients, especially for product which contained makroh ingredient or consist of animals and fish. It also required the products which contained genetically modified foods, or fats, meat bits or derivatives of fats such as gelatin and rennin to be clearly specified on the label. The standard also required the Halal product to be labeled with nutrition fact. On the other hand, meat products are additional required to have information about animal health certificate on its labeling. Mark such as official stamp are required to proof the Halal slaughtering act and the branding ink should be stable and non-hazardous. It also stated that Halal logo should specify the organization in charge and required the certification number to be printed on product.
Halal logo which is a label issued after the Halal food product had been proven of its Halal status by Halal certification authorities. By having the proper label of Halal logo, it also helps to prevent the product from being mixed or contaminated with materials which are non-Halal. Hence, by attaching a Halal logo on the label, it had proven that the product is safe and suitable to be consumed by Muslim consumer. The Halal logo on food product is more meaningful and important for Muslim consumers than ISO or other similar certification because it could indicate the wholesomeness of the food and it proven the food is ritually clean (Shafie and Othman, 2006).
However, all the ASEAN countries or countries worldwide are having own national Halal logo, but national logo is not usable on another countries, so food products which schedule to be export must be special amend on their labeling to comply with the importing countries requirements. If the Halal logo with its Halal certification process could be harmonized worldwide or at least among ASEAN countries, it definitely can ease the trade of Halal food between countries and reduces the additional work load for exportation of Halal food. Although ASEAN general guidelines on Halal food handling had suggest that food products which produced according to the standard could be label with a ASEAN label and National Halal logo to proved it Halal status, but we have found out that most of the product still did not label the Halal food with this way. It may due to that certain country do not recognize and approve the Halal standard of another country.
NATIONAL HALAL LOGO
Laboratory testing can be use to verify that the Halal food product are free from sources which is haram and free from contamination of haram ingredient. According to the subsection of verification methods in Thailand Halal standard, the verification testing may include profile testing; physical, chemical and microbiology analysis; blood and blood products test; genetically modified products, preservatives, and additives analysis; and through inspecting of packaging and packaging materials. Halal primary concern is of the contaminant from ethyl alcohol and pork origin, so most of the laboratory testing is to verify that the food products are free from contamination by these materials.
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However, only Thailand Halal standard had generally stated about the guidelines for verification by laboratory testing without specify the detail methodology, while others ASEAN countries totally did not stated any requirement or guidelines about laboratory testing for verification the Halal status of the product. Currently, JAKIM in Malaysia also do not have full range of research and development unit and it need the assistance from third party to run the laboratory testing and analysis to certify the Halal status of the product (Shafie and Othman, 2006). The laboratory testing and analysis methodology may differ between different laboratory testing centres, so standardization should be conduct to obtained similar level of Halal verification nationally. Basically, Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) will be used in laboratory for detection of forbidden substances, such as PCR is used to detect pork DNA, while ELISA is used to detect the presence of antibody or antigen in the product (Zareena, 2010).
News had revealed that JAKIM (Malaysia) will build a government-owned Halal analysis laboratory by 2012 in Bandar Enstek, Nilai to analysed Halal product. This will be the first country in the global to have governmental based Halal analysis laboratory. Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in Malaysia also said that after the Halal Act being legislated, JAKIM will be the only body to issue Halal certificates and private sector will not be allowed to do so anymore (Bernama, 2011). These laboratory will conduct research on food and others product to verify the Halal status, and it will be used by local and foreign food producers. If this Halal analysis laboratory by JAKIM could increase their capability, it may become the centre for Halal analysis laboratory to execute test for products from ASEAN countries for Halal product status. Hence, it may become a factor for harmonisation of the laboratory testing method among ASEAN countries. This action may generate a standardized requirement on laboratory testing and methodology, so laboratory testing of product for Halal certification among ASEAN countries could be equally recognised.
Approaches for Harmonization
Harmonization of the ASEAN Halal standard is the need for ASEAN countries; so many respective authorities had been putting effort on finding the suitable approaches to harmonize the standard and to get consensus agreement on the implementation according to the harmonized Halal standard.
Currently, there is no single reference point for Halal standard that is accepted worldwide as the industry standard, so all the countries are now having their own national Halal standard for the certification scheme (MITI, 2006). To produce an ASEAN Halal standard that is able to be use with ease in ASEAN countries, usually it needs to base on several reference standards. The reference standard could be national Halal standard, Codex guidelines, regional Halal standard or others. Currently, a Codex guidelines which named by General Guidelines for Use of the Term “Halal” is available to be refers by all countries worldwide, but it barely cover and recommend on the use of Halal claims and Halal food labeling with defining of the term Halal but do not encompass all areas related to Halal food production. Generally, Codex is being known as a standard which is effective for dispute settlement, so the Codex General Standard should be develop and leverage to include more aspects of Halal food preparation, handling and production. On the other hand, MABIMS which is the Association of Religious Ministers of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore had also formed a Technical Committee and develop a MABIMS Guidelines for Preparation of Food and Drink for Muslims. Both Codex and MABIMS guidelines also had been act as reference to develop the ASEAN General Guideline (Ad-Hoc Working Group, 1997).
ASEAN ad-hoc working group is a committee which comprise of representative from Senior Officials Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (SOM-AMAF) and religious authorities of each ASEAN member country. One of the functions of this committee is to coordinate the multinational policy and develop the ASEAN General Guidelines on the Preparation and Handling of Halal Food. This ASEAN general guideline had been published on year 1997. However, this general guidelines is too brief and do not covered every aspect, so it cannot be totally followed or enforces by the ASEAN countries during the accreditation of Halal certificate, while each of the ASEAN countries only follow to their own national guidelines. This guideline is developed almost 14 years ago and many aspects may be changed or obsolete, so it require to review or update on a regular basis such as once a year to keep improving the available guideline to a more broadening aspects covering Halal.
Among ten countries in ASEAN, there are 5 countries (Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore) which have their own national Halal standard. Malaysian Standards of MS 1500: 2009 which is a ISO compliance standard had also being use as references to create the Codex General Guidelines for Use of the Term “Halal”. It means that an international or regional guidelines can be produced by refers to others countries national standard. As discussed in the previous section, there are several aspects that have been found to be conflict among different national standard. This is due to different country have different interpretation on major issue, while some countries have stricter requirement than the other countries or had lower tolerance toward advancement of technology for production. However, all these national standards and regional standard should be integrated by compare and contrast on the requirements between each national standard. Then, middle ground or highest tolerance limits which are able to be achieved and agreed by each nation will be set. Hence, barrier to trade due to differ of national Halal standard can be resolved and food trade among ASEAN countries could be facilitated. This solution seems effective but actually rather difficult to implement because normally each country will have their own stand point regarding the Halal food handling and production.
These actions of finding and integrating the guidelines available in ASEAN region and international are effective to be use in setting a general guideline to be used in ASEAN countries. The collection of references standard should be continue done by the ASEAN ad-hoc working group and they may also refers to the activities or effort that had been done by International Halal Integrity (IHI) Alliance or Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) nation. IHI Alliance could be a vehicle to develop, implement, maintain and harmonize the Halal standard because it is a non-profit, non-governmental and non-national body which provides a platform for its members to share information and work together for integrity of the Halal industry (Wan-Hassan, 2007). This body is further strengthen by collaboration between IHI Alliance and the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI). This ICCI-IHI collaboration had launched four modules regarding Logistics, Food Services, Slaughtering and Processing, and Animal Welfare, while plan to launched another four new modules of Laboratory and Testing, Animal Feed, Food Processing, and Cosmetics and Toiletries to assist OIC member countries in setting up a structured domestic Halal assurance body with proper certification scheme (The Star, 2010). Their effort on this issue is due to only less than 10 out of 57 OIC member countries are having a structured Halal standard, so they are assisting by harmonize the global standard and become a reference for others countries. The ICCI-IHI collaboration had developed the standard by refers to the The International Organization for Standardization/ The International Electrotechnical Commision (ISO/IEC), Guidelines for International Standards Development, while adhering to World Trade Organisation’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, Code of Good Practice for Standards Development (IHI, 2010). ASEAN countries can adopt or use the modules developed by ICCI-IHI collaboration as the references standard to product a harmonize standard to be use among the region.
Setting Benchmark Standard
Instead on only setting the guidelines, benchmark standard is also an important area to be set up in harmonizing the standard between ASEAN countries. A guideline without proper benchmark level will be useless. Certifying bodies uses the benchmark standard for accreditation of the Halal certificate. According Darhim (2008), benchmark standard of certification bodies can be generated according to ISO/IEC Guide 65 which related to General Requirements for Bodies Operating Product Certification Systems. It is also important to obtain the Syariah parameters that established from reputable religious authorities and work within these parameters to set the benchmark. Research and development in scientific analytical method of non-Halal component is able to assist in setting benchmarks for a particular component. The benchmark standard must be within the level which satisfied and accepted by Muslims, while achievable by the industry. Strict Halal standard which able to satisfied the Muslim population, but not achievable will not bring benefits to any parties. Hence, middle ground which is the generally acceptable benchmark needs to be set to satisfy both Muslim population and industry. By having a harmonized Halal standards and certification system, Muslim consumer could be confident on the right quality of product they obtained and facilitate the regional trade.
IHI Alliance is putting effort on setting a benchmark standard which is an important element in harmonization of the Halal standard among global countries. For example, the benchmark standards that need to be set are such as amount of current to stun different animals, amount of alcohol which not derived from liquor production that permitted in foods and others. These benchmark need to be set to settle any possible dispute that arise during trade of Halal product between ASEAN countries. It is not necessarily that ASEAN countries need to depend on the IHI Alliance to set the benchmark, the ASEAN ad-hoc working group which comprised of members from all ASEAN country could also putting effort in this aspect. The setting of benchmark standard should be easier to achieve within ASEAN countries compared to IHI Alliance because IHI Alliance aim to harmonize the Halal standard worldwide but ASEAN ad-hoc working group only harmonize and setting benchmark for 10 members of ASEAN countries. However, there are also people stated that a certification scheme for all is difficult to achieved because it cannot meet the needs of all certification body, if only one is required, it need to take very long time to harmonise. So, Dr Jochen Zoller, who is the President of Food Services Division at Intertek UK had suggested to set up a Halal benchmark with independent third party certification body, like British Retail Consortium which introduce Food Technical Standard to have tight control over the manufacturing process of manufacturer who get the BRC certificate.
Minimum Core Standard
In the research paper by Wan-Hassan (2007), he stated that Dr. Habib M’Nasri, Director of Quality Control at McDonald’s International had suggested the establishment of Minimum Core Standard during the conference of World Halal Forum on year 2007. Minimum Core Standard can act as an approach to harmonize the Halal standard between countries, as the minimum core carry the zero tolerance for a few basic issues with addendums applied to each individual country. An addendum is a section of extra information which added to something and in this case it is added on explain the minimum core. This action may be able to set a benchmark standard among countries.
In this model, the addendum will list out each country with their clearly defined requirements to approve an action as Halal, while the core will be the minimum limit and common ground where each country can follow and achieved. For example, the Minimum Core Standard will set zero tolerance for some basic issues such as pork and alcohol with addendum applied to each individual country. On the other hand, Minimum Core Standard might be used for certain controversial issue such as mechanical slaughtering for poultry, where Malaysia and Thailand permitted the mechanical slaughtering, but Brunei prohibited it. So, minimum core or common ground should be found between these countries to facilitate the trade of Halal products and the Minimum Core Standard may be used to achieve this. However, certain countries like Vietnam and Myanmar do not even have a national Halal standard, so it causes difficulty to implement the Minimum Core Standard, as in the addendum could not apply appropriately with countries without proper Halal Standard. In my opinion, those countries without proper Halal standard may follow the minimum core which is the consensus between countries with Halal standard.
Industry and Government Effort
To come out with a regional Halal standard for Halal product, it required the major combined effort between the industry and government authorities. By cooperation of various parties and expert on issue regarding Halal, it can enhance or catalyst the process of harmonization of the ASEAN Halal Standard (Khaleej Times Online, 2008). Before the Halal standard could be harmonize between countries, harmonize certification system should be applied in the particular nation first. An integrated development of the Halal industry is able to ensure the conformity of the industries to the stated certification standard. For example, Malaysia is planning to conduct the systemic development of the entire value chain by establishing of Halal parks. By having Halal park which dedicated to the downstream production of Halal product, the product produced would be free from non-Halal contaminant and having requisite infrastructure, adequate shared facilities with service provider located in these park.
On the other hand, coordination among ministries and agencies are also required to promote and develop the Halal industry (MITI, 2006).
Government and industry need to gain consensus regarding the requirement for Halal product to catalyst the harmonization and implementation of the Halal standard. Government will put effort in creating the benchmark standard for the industries to follow, while government agency especially authorities for Halal certification will enforce the standard and given Halal certificate for product which comply with the requirement in the standard. On the other hand, inter-governmental bodies such as Islamic authorities from each ASEAN country should put effort on harmonization of Halal Standard among ASEAN countries, by together facing the challenge of
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