Single halal certifying body sought

Nani noted the country has at least a dozen halal certifying bodies observing different standards. They are accredited by the Office of Muslim  Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry.

"When halal certification is not credible, Muslim consumers will not trust the product," he added, apparently referring to various standards observed  by groups issuing halal certifications.

Thursday's meeting was part of the effort to come up with a common halal  food certifying body in the country.

Nani chided the present system, saying government must only recognize but  not accredit the groups engaged in certifying halal food products.

The accreditation must be done by a single halal council composed of ulama, which shall be recognized by the government, he stressed.

He said the council shall be endorsed by the DA as the only halal food certifying body to members of the Association and Southeast Asian Nations and other countries where there are Muslim consumers.

But it would be up to the council to decide whether they will singularly issue halal food certifications or accredit other groups to do the certification, he added.

The certification shall be based on a national halal standard guideline, which the country still lacks, Nani said.

The national guideline is expected to be drafted once the unified halal food certifying body is formally organized.

Nani revealed that if the local Islamic scholars would not unite to form a singular halal food certifying body, President Arroyo has given the signal to get ulama from other countries to do the certification.

Sani Macabalang, regional director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Region-12, said that a recognized group of Islamic scholars should also be the only one who will certify halal food products.

"If the Islamic scholars would want to accredit others, that's their call. But the group of Islamic scholars should be on top of all these other halal food certifying organizations," he said.

Macabalang said the government has not authorized the OMA and the DTI to certify halal food products.

Debangkitan T. Amer, an aleem from the Caraga region, told MindaNews creating a common halal food certifying body has been a contentious issue among the different halal certifying players.

Amer said they have formed the Philippine National Halal Fatwa Council and that he is hoping that the government would recognize it as the only halal food certifying body in the country.

He said the group supports a uniform standard for halal food certification that will be adopted by the players. (MindaNews)