Food Policy in Malaysia
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Published: Mon, 02 Oct 2017
Malaysia is a multilingual and multicultural society. The original culture of Malaysia is come from the indigenous tribes that is been staying in the peninsular and east of Malaysia since century ago. Not long after, the Malays were moved to Malaysia from Indonesia and followed by the Chinese and Indian due to the substantial influence. Dating back to old days Malaysia used to be a colonization of British. Due to that, Peninsular Malaysia has become a foreign trading port for the British and cultural influences start to gather. The culture include Persian, Arabic and British and etc.
Due to being part of the ancient spice route in Asia and becoming a foreign trading port for the British, Malaysia’s cuisine reflects on the multi-ethnic makeup of its population. Besides that, the cuisine also is greatly influenced within itself or by the surrounding countries. For example the influences are from the Malays, Chinese, Indian, Thai and etc. In addition, it is very common to find a similar versions of the dish within Singapore or across Malaysia regardless of place of origin because Singapore used to be part of Malaysia.
What is Food Policy? According to Wikipedia, food policy are the area of publics concerning how the food is produced, processed, distributed and what kind of chemical ingredient are used when processing the food. Food policies system is designed to guide producer in operating of food and agriculture related product. This commonly include in decision-making of production and processing techniques of food, marketing of food, utilizing and consuming of food in the interest of meeting or furthering social objectives. Food policies can be develop in any level, such as from local to global, by government agency, business cooperation or food related organization. Makers of food policy are often engage in activities such as setting regulation related to food industries and establishing food standards for assistance programs for the poor and ensuring safety of food supplies, food labeling and even the qualification of a specific product to be considered as organic or not. Most of the food policy is initiated at the domestic level for the purpose of ensuring a safe and satisfactory level of food supply to the citizenry.
Malaysia is a multilingual and multicultural society country that mainly consists of the Malays, which is the biggest community group in Malaysia and followed by the Chinese, Indian, and the indigenous tribe. Even though Malaysia has many different cultures and races, it is consider as a Muslim Country due to the Parliament is govern by mainly the Malays followed by the Chinese and Indian. Due to this, Malaysia is very strict when comes to thing such as laws and etc. Food policy is one of it, for example the food that found within the country is mainly Halal even though there is consumers who are Non-Muslim.
In Malaysia, Food policy decision and food related law is made between the Ministry of Health Department Malaysia and Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia. Both of the departments worked closely together for public health safety and to provide awareness of what kind of food the consumer are eating. The Ministry of Health Department is the one who has a higher authority when comes to food related because the areas that they involved in are wider such as nutrition assistance, food safety, dietary guidance, and labeling of consumable product. As for Agriculture side such as plantation of corn and etc are govern by the Ministry of Agriculture Malaysia. Most of the food policies are increasingly developing and changed due to the needs of citizens, political climates and circumstances changes.
According to Halal Malaysia, Halal are define as a lawful, permitted, pure, wholesome and recommended under Islamic Law. As in food service terms, Halal will affect the quality and hygiene policy in food manufacturing practices as well as food services in restaurant.
With the growing of population around the world, the production, food safety, trade and consumption in food chained restaurant are increasingly demanding for Halal Food. Due to this, Halal food in Malaysia is coming from both Muslim and Non-Muslims country or producer because the local Halal food manufacturer did not have the ability to follow up the increasing of local community anymore.
Based on Islamic Dietary Laws in the Trade Description Order 1975 of Malaysia, there are three main food categories for Muslims which are Halal, Haram, and Syubba. Halal is a word used for describing food that is lawful for Muslims to consume according to the Al-Quran. As for Haram, it is a term used to describe a subject that is unlawful and prohibited for the Muslims to do or consume. For example, Muslims are not allowed to consume pork and alcohol. The third and the last one is Syubba, it means the ingredient or the process of the food is made are questionable and therefore should be avoided for the Muslims if it is possible.
In addition, The Al-Quran stresses that Muslims must eat food that is pure and clean as stated in the Islamic Dietary laws. The trust that is build-in among Muslim customers on Halal Certification is potentially increasing when it comes to deciding to visit an eating premise or a specific product.
Since the 1970s, JAKIM also known as the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia, has been emphasizing its structures to ensure the Halal certification process in Malaysia provide Muslims Community with quality assurance of the products and services which is purchased or used by them.(JAKIM,2010). On the other hand, Malaysia Halal Certification also remarked as “a total quality health and sanitary system that involve in adopting the procedure for killing, processing and other related operations as drafted by Islamic rules”. Besides that, JAKIM also certifies raw materials, ingredients and products based on the quality of the product, hygiene perspectives and consideration of consumption safety of a specific product. (JAKIM,2008)
There are few agencies that develop the standard of Halal food in Malaysia which as JAKIM is one of them and followed by Department of Standards Malaysia, Malaysia Institute of Industrial Research and standard which also known as SIRIM, and Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia. As a result, the four departments developed a comprehensive guideline in Halal food standard called MS1500 in 2004. The general guideline of Malaysian Standard MS1500 is focus on the production, preparation, handling and storing of Halal food. MS1500 also act as a manual for the food industry on preparing and handling halal food. In the other hand, it served as a basic food trade in Malaysia. (Mohd Daud,2004)
The practice of Halal system should apply to all processing stages which from farm to table. Halal certification provide consumer a greater confidence and informed choice on what they have purchased (Wan Hassan & Hall,2003).
According to the Muslim Council of Britain, a statistic of up to 90% of meat and poultry that are sold in the United Kingdom as Halal are illegally sold to consumer and it is not slaughtered based on Shariah Law. In addition, this proved that Halal certification is clearly a potentially useful marketing and branding tools to attract customer to dine in a restaurant or to buy a product. This is an important examples for the Malaysian government to strengthen the Halal Certification in order to prevent the malpractice in the supply of meat to consumers and restaurant.
Based on the research done by Muhammad in 2007, the needs for Halal foods and product within the countries itself and around the world has remarkable increasing. Majority of the Muslim Countries in the world which include Malaysia used to get their Halal product with the local suppliers or imported from other Muslim Countries. Due to the increasing of population and standard of living, it has drives the Muslim Countries to import Halal food from Non-Muslims countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Singapore. These countries with comparatively small or even don’t have Muslim Population has became a valid contributors to the world Halal Trade. (Trade Mart,2006)
According to Wan Omar, Muhammad, & Che Omar (2008), the world has a total of 1.8billion of estimated Muslim Population and the market for Halal product is worth over US$560 billion annually. With the increasing interested in Halal food, this shows that there is a very huge market segment for food manufacturer. On the other hand, due to the increasing of international trade, cultural globalization and tourism, the “Halal” label has progressively recognized by non-Muslim and countries such as Europe and America also in demand for it which they don’t really needed it at old times. It also initiate further pressure on emphasizing importance of goods certification and has become the core in food industry. (Al-harrn & Low, 2008).
Based on Riaz & Chaudry(2004), Malaysia was the leader in implementing Halal Laws in the early 1980s and remains in force globally when comes to Halal Certification circumstances. On the other hand, according to Chang(2006), Muslim population of 60% in Malaysia has increased their interest for Halal foods and products over the years. Due to this, Halal standard in food related goods has been widen from meat item to item such as confectionery, bakery and dairy goods. Chang also said that Halal Certification is become known as a standard criteria for food quality, safety and hygiene. It also helped to increase the market value of the product that has Halal label on it.
Based on the research done by Chang,2006, Malaysia is consider as one of the most advance nations in Southeast Asia after Singapore. As a result, Malaysian lifestyle has been dramatically evolving due to increasing of income and education levels. Besides that, majority of the restaurant that is located within the country have a clear halal logo in front of the restaurant entrance. With the logo sticked at the restaurant, it proves that the restaurant not only the food is halal but also the entire process of processing food is halal. In addition to that, the halal restaurant in Malaysia is not allowed to sell pork and alcohol related product. Based on the survey that made by Shamsudin & Selamat 2005, they found that Malaysians are regarded as adventurous espeiclally the young peers in their consuming manner. Malaysian whose median age of 22 years old love to explore new eating places as suggested by friends and relatives because eating out in nowadays is very common and is somewhat not expensive compare to other country in the world. Based on Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia in 2008, Malaysian students who came back after staying abroad also devote to the demand for various food styles as well as eating in a restaurant. According to research done by Chang,2006, Malaysian regularly choose to dine in an open air dining area or street stalls. In addition to that, International cuisines such as Japanese and Korean cuisine were exceptionally demanding awfully over the years.
Research done by Shamsudin and Selamat(2005), 172,252 food service matters including stalls and restaurants exited in Malaysia in 2001. In overall, the food service industry in Malaysia can be divided into five main section which is dine-in restaurant (including hotel coffee houses), coffee shops, hawker centers, fast food stalls, food courts and roadside stalls. As for Kueh and Voon(2007), they give a bit different categories and said that foodservice premises in Malaysia consists of Pubs/bars , street hawkers, and dine-in restaurant.
According to undertaken by Josiam, Sohail and Monteiro(2007) on curry cuisine and perceptions of Indian Restaurnt in Malaysia, they found that restaurant in Malaysia serve standard and actual food that suit the local customers and tourists taste bud. They also proposed that consumers are keen in term of accepting new foods and explore new tastes. The findings that done by them also shows that general hygiene such as cleanliness of restaurant and restroom and the quality of foods will determine the restaurant weather is value for money or not. The main interest of foods for Malaysian are spiciness of the food, appearance of the food, the taste of the food and last by not least the availability of vegetarian choices and followed by the food with Halal Certification.
Food served as one of the basic needs for humans needs in the hierarchy of Mashlow. It just that some people religions view and beliefs in regarding food consumption and has dietary constraint. As an example, the most familiar one is the Muslims with Halal, Hindus and a minority of Chinese population constraint themselves from eating beef and some of them being as a vegetarian, and lastly the Jews people with Kosher restriction.
As a conclusion, Halal food in Malaysia is not just constraint to the surrounding of the way the animal is killed, it goes deeper than that. It started from the first steps of preparing to handling, distributing, storing, displaying, packaging, labeling, preparation and serving it. In another words, the whole food supply chain must follow the Islamic dietary laws in order it to be Halal.
The practice of Islamic dietary laws in Malaysia has educated Muslim and non-Muslims community to eat food that is pure and good based on the Quran and Haditb. As a addition to it, Halal certification that is provided by Malaysia organization is seen as a source of potential to create trust among the Muslims that the foods with the certification are safe to be consume or used.
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