By: Mhark Ellgine A. Libao, DOST-PSTC Batangas

Halal Products and Compliance was the topic of the second episode of TechSilog Online Seminar Series Season 4 aired via Zoom and Facebook Live, May 14.

A total of 219 participants composed of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), educators, students, researchers, government officers, and private organizations partook the online seminar. The discussion was led by Ms. Jasmin C. Hamid and Ms. Agnes G. Morales, members of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) CALABARZON’s Food Safety Team and Chem Lab Analysts at DOST CALABARZON’s Regional Standards and Testing Laboratory.

The discussion was framed on two major topics, the concept of Halal and the Halal Certification and Analysis. Ms. Jasmin C. Hamid laid the grounds of the discussion through discussing the basic concepts of Halal. She started her presentation with the definition of Arabic terms used in Islamic Law. Some of the consequences of consuming non-halal foods such as (1) invalidation of good deeds; (2) non-acceptance of forty days worship; and (3) unanswered supplication were also mentioned to highlight the relevance of Halal. The importance of Halal which refers to any foods or drinks permitted under Islamic Law or Sharia including its benefits not only to Muslims but also encompasses non-Muslims were emphasized by the speaker. Examples of Halal foods and products were likewise shown and explained. Ms. Jamid also discussed the opposite of Halal which is “Haram”. According to Islamic Law, Haram means prohibited or unlawful. To provide a more concrete description of Haram, Ms. Jamid presented some examples of Haram foods.

The discussion also focused on Najs, an Arabic word which means “filth, unclean” and includes vomit, excrement, lice, blood, and urine. Apart from being Haram, Najs has three types; the Mughallazah (severe najs), Mutawassitah (meduim najs), Mukhaffafah (light najs). “Shubuhat” or “Mashbooh”, another Arabic term which refers to any uncertainty about foods or drinks were similarly covered. The last part of Ms. Hamid’s discussion focused on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Hence, the nature of how these GMOs can be considered Halal was explained.

The second cut of the episode concentrated on Halal Quality Assurance in Food Industry. Ms. Agnes G. Morales emphasized the importance of making food products Halal-certified to ensure safety and quality. She shared that there is about 2 billion global consumer base of Halal products with an estimated Halal market worth of 2.6 trillions of US Dollars. Thus, 62% of this include food and beverages, followed by pharmaceuticals at 22%, cosmetics and personal care at 10% and 6% neutraceutical. Ms. Morales also enumerated several Halal services which oppose the conception that Halal is for food only. Specifically, these services include Islamic banking, securities and bonds, travel and tourism, supply chain and logistics, education and training, fashion, food services, food and non-food manufacturing. Furthermore, she stressed the significance of Halal Certification which guarantees the features and quality of the products according to the rules established by the Islamic Council. Some of the Halal logos which are present in Halal products were also shown and Ms. Morales explained how each certifying body differs in its respective Halal logo.

The process on availing Halal Certification was then explained. According to Ms. Morales, first step is the ‘evaluation stage’ where the firm is evaluated based on their submitted application. Second step is the ‘inspection’ at the firm’s plant and process. The last step is the ‘certification’ which will be granted to the firm once they completed and passed the first two steps. Another part of Halal Certification is the Halal Assurance System (HAS) which refers to the total quality health and sanitary system. Ms. Morales explained that this system involves adopting procedures for slaughtering, processing and other related operations as prescribed by the Islam Dietary Law. This system is also composed of four elements such as standard of halal management and system, standard audit of halal system, Haram critical control point systems, and Halal guide and database. Meanwhile, Halal Compliance Critical Control Point (HCCCP) system, a recommended approach to enhance food safety from farm to fork, was likewise discussed. As she ends her discussion, Ms. Morales reiterated that “Halal is not only for Muslims, it is for every Juan and Juana!”

Questions of the participants were addressed during the “Consultalk” segment. It served as the participants’ avenue for lobbying their ideas to the speaker. Most of the questions and concerns raised were focused on the processes involved during application, resources needed, and the cost from start to finish of Halal accreditation/certification.

DOST CALABARZON’s OIC Regional Director, Ms. Emelita P. Bagsit, extended her gratitude to all the participants and commended DOST Batangas for another successful episode of Techsilog. She mentioned how timely the episode was in light of the Eid al-Fitr, a religious holiday that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadan, celebrated on May 13. Given the opportunity, she shared that DOST CALABARZON is one of the four DOST regional offices in the country which has a Halal Verification Laboratory. This laboratory aims to address the laboratory testing needs of the increasing number of food manufacturers under Islamic Dietary Law. As to Ms. Bagsit, DOST is one of the government agencies supporting the Halal Board tasked to formulate, advocate, coordinate, oversee and assess the implementation of the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Program. On the other hand, Ms. Felina C. Malabanan, PSTC Batangas Provincial Director, extended her appreciation to all the participants who continuously support PSTC Batangas’ efforts to bring science and technology closer to the people through different modalities like TechSilog.