Halal certification and its diversity

The term Halal is very widespread in our day to day, we can see it in some butcher shops or restaurants and many times we do not understand what it refers to. Despite the fact that we can intuit that it is associated with Arabic due to the origin of the word, the reality is that it is associated with a religious term and it does not know about cultures or flags. That is, it is a more general term than we may think.

The term has its origin in the Arabic language and means permitted or legal and due to the extensive use of this word by Muslims, it has come to refer to what is lawful or legal according to Islamic law. Why is this term so important to Muslims? The truth is that the daily actions in the life of Muslims are put in the Halal magnifying glass, this is because they make their religion a lifestyle that goes from what to eat, how to dress to how to carry out a loan.

At present, due to globalization and enormous development, there is a lot of migration from one country to another and a lot of exchange of cultures, because we can eat a Japanese ramen in Dubai, or a hamburger in Indonesia. But for Muslims around the world, the question remains the same, is it Halal?

The fact that many products or services are made without taking into account the final consumer, has led Islamic countries to legally define the term Halal through international quality standards. In this way, an important term for the Muslim community prevails and is consolidated. This time, in a legislative way to be able to apply internationally to any company that wants to send its services to Muslim countries or to the Muslim community in general.

The international representative organizations for the regulation of halal quality are the SMIIC (Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries) through the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and the IHAF (International Halal Accreditation Forum). The first SMIIC body is based in Turkey and regulates Halal through the OIC/SMIIC 1:2019 regulation for Halal food and OIC/SMIIC 2:2019 to regulate Halal certifiers, among others. While the second IHAF, is based in Dubai and regulates Halal through GSO regulations, such as GSO 2055-1: 2015 for Halal food and GSO 2055-2: 2015 for certifying entities.

The different accreditation entities in the world that want to be accredited in Halal must be recognized by one of these organizations.




Where does the complication come from? The complication comes when trying to export to some countries, since some only recognize SMIIC as a representative body and others IHAF. There are also some countries, such as Pakistan, that recognize both quality standards, the GSO and the SMIIC. So, if the certifier in question has only been accredited by an entity affiliated with only one of the two organizations, it will be valid in some countries and not in others. Therefore, a Halal certifier that wants to have a greater scope must be accredited by entities that are in both organizations.

A particular case is the GAC (GCC Accreditation center), it is the accreditation body of the Gulf countries. This is recognized by both organizations. So being accredited by this body is a great advantage.

Some countries, such as Malaysia or Indonesia, have defined Halal through their own standards included in the MS1500, as is the case in Malaysia, or defined by internal organizations such as the MUI or MUIS in Indonesia and Singapore respectively, which have agreements of recognition. Here is a summary table to clarify the ideas.

In conclusion, the job of a good certifier is to understand the Halal concept of the different countries and be able to carry this seal reliably, adapting to their quality standards. It also makes it easier for different companies to take their products to any country they need, thus fulfilling our motto HALAL QUALITY FOR ALL.

Abdeladim Kandal

Food technologist