The Third Gulf Conference on the Halal Industry and Its Services took place in Kuwait on May 13 to 15, 2014. Kuwait’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research organized this event. Conference speakers represented a wide range of halal industry stakeholders, from scholars and producers, to regulators and halal certifying organizations. The agenda allowed several opportunities of interaction between the speakers and attendees.
Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry, president of Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) and the President of the World Halal Food Council, Americas Region, spoke on a Consultants Panel of the Seminar titled "Investment in the Halal Industry as One of the Means of Guaranteeing the Integration of the Halal Process". In his presentation, Chaudry explained that halal certification provides consumers trust and confidence in consumable products such as food, beverages, cosmetics and personal care items. In today’s food industry, complex production methods place a heavy burden on halal consumers to verify if food products meet their halal dietary standards. Food laws in most countries do not require full disclosure of ingredient sources. For halal consumers, third-party halal certification relieves this burden.
While halal certification systems have been around for many years, verification systems have not been robust enough to ensure the integrity of the halal certified products. Validation ensures that the entire process from raw material production through the placement on the retailer's shelf is traceable, thus eliminating the chance of fake halal certificates. This requires maintaining and reviewing control documents, production records, certification records, export documents, and import documents and working with regulators to ensure everything is in order and meets the consumer expectations.
Regulators will need to implement a halal management system. The will need to include a transparent and practical standard, an accreditation system for halal certifying bodies, a verification system that validates products labeled as halal are actually halal, enforcement of the standard, and a system to deal with noncompliance. The standard and the halal management system should be reviewed periodically and revised, as needed.
An independent coordinating office in the halal-importing countries can be established to verify that the halal-produced goods are the ones on the retailer's shelves; to develop continuous improvements in the halal management system; and to assist regulators in monitoring and assuring compliance with the standards.