Muslim leaders endorse DA halal food standards

MUSLIM scholars and religious leaders fully support and endorse the Halal food standards being proposed by the Department of Agriculture.

This was the gist of a report submitted to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala by director Sani Macabalang of the DA Halal Food Industry Development Committee, as a result of the second round of public consultations on Halal food standards held here February 16, 2011, attended by 60 Muslim leaders from Regions 11, 12, 13 and ARMM (Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur). The first batch was held January 24, 2011, in Quezon City.

“The Muslim leaders have urged the DA to fast-track the finalization of the new harmonized halal food standards and code of practice for halal poultry slaughter,” said  Macabalang, who is the concurrent region 12 director of the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

He  said the Muslim leaders, especially those who had participated in the crafting of the previous 2008 halal standards, commended the comprehensiveness of the new proposed Halal standards as these have considered many aspects, including issues on  genetically modified organisms (GMOs), among others.

Muslim leaders from Davao City said they look forward to the adoption of the halal food standards and accompanying accreditation requirements to once and for all stop the proliferation of dubious halal-certified establishments and fake halal products in the country.

For his part, Abdurafin Sayedy, head of a local organization of Ulama, enjoined all Muslim leaders at the consultation to support the DA proposed standards to protect the integrity of halal foods.­­

Macabalang ensured the participants that all the inputs raised during the General Santos City consultation will be considered in the finalization of the draft documents.

Three more consultations will be conducted in Zamboanga City, Cebu City and Bicol.

Macabalang also said that the new halal standards would provide the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) a basis in establishing the guidelines in accrediting halal food certifiers.

The NCMF is the government agency mandated to develop, implement and monitor the halal food accreditation and certification system, in partnership with the DA and other concerned government agencies, Macabalang added.

The global halal food market is very lucrative, estimated at US$2.3 trillion, Macabalang said. The Philippine food industry could benefit from this huge market, but it has first to prove its credibility in terms of producing halal foods, he noted.

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