Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Dubai — Muslim consumers in the UAE can now start looking for the country’s official logo given to certified halal food products.
Two companies have been certified to use the National Halal Mark developed by the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (Esma) after the logo was officially released at the ongoing Gulfood Exhibition 2015.
Global Food Industries, which manufactures frozen food in Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi-based food and beverage firm Aghthia were the first companies to get the halal mark on their products.
“The official release of the mark and awarding it to two companies means it is now in the market. People can look for it,” said Farah Ali Al Zarooni, the director of standards department at Esma.
She was speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Halal Investment Conference held as part of the Gulfood Conferences on Tuesday.
“We are importing more than 85 per cent of products from other countries, which are mainly non-Muslim countries,” she said. “Our scheme will make sure raw materials and sources are 100 per cent halal and it will assure quality and safety of products for human consumption, controlling all phases of the supply chain from farm to fork,” said Al Zarooni.
The requirement for the halal mark on imported halal meat products to the UAE will start with products from Australia and New Zealand, officials said.
Valued over $52.5 billion, the UAE’s meat and live animal imports stood second among the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) countries in 2013. In two years, all halal food products imported to the UAE will have to carry the halal mark of quality that is recognised by the OIC.
The inaugural Halal Investment Conference under the theme ‘Standardising the Global Halal Industry’, put the spotlight on the UAE’s role in global halal standardisation and product certification.
A senior official said the UAE’s halal standards and mark are likely to be adopted at a GCC level.
“When any member of the GCC comes up with good standards, we will take it as a model for GCC level… There will not be any conflict of interest,” Nabil Molla, secretary general of GCC Standardisation Organisation (GSO), told this paper.
Appreciating the halal standards and mark developed by the UAE, he said, the GSO will also discuss the option of adopting the same mark at the GCC level. “By the end of the year, all these details will be clear,” he said.
“The GSO’s vision is to become the pioneers of standardisation and excellence, both regionally and internationally. Through the facilitation of trade, we strive to eliminate barriers, all the while protecting our consumers, their health and our environment,” he said.
However, an industry expert said there was a need for the authorities to consider the practical difficulties faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in implementing the strict halal standards.
Hassan Bayrakdar, founder and managing director of Raqam Consultancy, said it would be difficult for many SMEs to apply certain halal standards especially in some areas such as transporting and storage of food products.
“The cost involved in obtaining halal certificate and other related certificates may give a competitive advantage to bigger companies,” he said, calling for authorities’ attention into such issues.
Noaf Al Naqbi, head of the certification body accreditation section at the Dubai Accreditation Centre under the Dubai Municipality, said the centre will organise training on halal requirements for certification bodies and awareness sessions for slaughterhouses and food manufacturers.