Halal industry gets boost

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/07 March)—A state-owned halal laboratory has risen in Southwestern Mindanao as another bigger facility commenced construction in the region to boost efforts for the country to penetrate the estimated $3 trillion global halal market, an official said on Monday.

Zenaida Laidan, Department of Science and Technology regional director said the new halal clearinghouse facility worth at least P24 million recently opened in Cotabato City to cater to the needs of small, medium and large enterprises.

“Construction of civil works for a bigger halal laboratory has commenced and is now about 30% complete,” she told MindaNews.

The P75-million facility being built in this city, the capital of South Cotabato, will be known as the Philippine National Halal Laboratory, Laidan said.

Halal refers to food or non-food products permissible under the Islamic faith.

The newly-launched halal laboratory facility at the DOST-12 compound in Cotabato City has a range of services that span the entire supply chain of halal food and selected non-food products, a project briefer said.

It employs advanced technology and state-of-the art equipment and it is the only existing halal laboratory in the country devoted to serving local and international clients, Laidan said.

The facility is capable of profiling fatty acids of animals and plants; DNA analysis of foods and other processed products; gelatin content analysis of milk and other dairy products; testing of genetically modified organism; alcohol content analysis of beverages and other related products; qualitative detection of haram in meat products; and detection of lard  in bakery products and edible oils, among others.

Laidan said that among those who will benefit from the halal laboratory are food and beverage manufacturers, food service outlets, caterers, food distributors and suppliers, food importers and exporters, pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical device producers.

The laboratory was established in line with the Philippine Science and Technology Program for the Development of the Halal Industry strongly pushed by Laidan.

She noted that the DOST is the “competent government authority in the technical aspect of validating compliance of products and services to halal requirements.”

For the laboratory, Laidan said her agency has partnered with the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, which will handle the religious aspect of validation.

Sani Macabalang, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director for Southwestern Mindanao, earlier called for a partnership among government stakeholders to fully develop the country’s halal industry.

“The complementation of proper technical agencies in upgrading the halal industry in the country is essential, not only to boost the economy, but also for the reassurance that the rights and well-being of Muslim Filipinos are recognized and valued. Foremost of this is to ensure the halal integrity of all products coming from the Philippines,” he said.

Laidan said that a halal laboratory is very important especially for a non-Muslim country like the Philippines, as it will increase the integrity of locally-made halal products especially those bound for markets in Muslim countries

“We cannot assure that a particular product is halal using only our naked eyes or senses.  Only through testing and analyses in our laboratory can we guarantee that products are really halal,” she said. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)