Ustadz Mohammad Inju, chairman of the Halal Certification Board, said they approved the technical guidelines about a week ago and will start operations by September.
The “Technical Guidelines and Manual of Operation of the ARMM Halal Accreditation and Certification Board,” which provides guidance on slaughtering, preparing, processing, handling, packaging, distribution and serving of halal food, was approved by muftis (scholars who interpret Islamic law) and Moro food scientists, chemists and doctors, he said.
Lawyer Ishak Mastura, ARMM Trade and Industry Secretary, urged the country’s poultry exporters to employ the services of the certification board to access the multi-billion dollar international halal industry.
“We are happy that the halal certification board was finally organized. We believe that board is the most credible halal certification scheme in the country since majority of the Muslims reside in the ARMM and the muftis in the ARMM are the most influential and most respected Muslim religious leaders in the country,” Mastura said.
He noted that the guidelines will be tested in the Middle East as the regional government is close to forging a deal to export poultry products in Iran.
Halal certification is the system of determining what is permissible for consumption of Muslims under Shari’ah or Islamic Law.
By food safety standards, halal is considered a quality control system by itself that puts emphasis on critical control points involving hygienic and disease-free preparation of foods from farm to plate.
Halal means permissible or lawful, and its opposite is haram, which literally means unlawful or forbidden.
Halal seal marked on labels of food and non-food products will inform Muslim consumers that the product is free from pork, lard from swine and alcohol.
Inju said consultations were done for several weeks in the provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Sulu Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, the areas covered by the autonomous Muslim region, prior to the approval of the halal certification standards in Zamboanga City.
The “Technical Guidelines and Manual of Operation of the ARMM Halal Accreditation and Certification Board” provides guidance on slaughtering, preparing, processing, handling, packaging, distribution and serving of halal food.
The approval of the manual comes amid high expectations that the P200 million East Asean Growth Area (EAGA) halal chicken poultry will kick off in the autonomous Muslim region within the year.
EAGA comprises Brunei, East Indonesia, East Malaysia and Palawan and Mindanao in the Philippines.
The BIMP-EAGA halal chicken poultry project will be located in the region’s 123-hectare economic zone at Polloc Port in Parang, Maguindanao, Mastura said.
Should this push through, it will be the first physical investment at the economic zone under the Regional Economic Zone Authority, Mastura pointed out.
He said Brunei investors teamed up with the Davao City-based Maharlika Agro Ventures to operate the halal chicken poultry project.
Jamil Hamsa Olermo, former chair of the Muslim Business Forum, stressed there are at least 1.48 billion Muslim consumers worldwide that they could bank on.
Other markets with high purchasing power for Halal-certified foods are the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong, and EAGA. (MindaNews)