For Muslims, the question of allowed (halal) and forbidden (haram) is
a matter of principle. And the principle carries a consequence for
Muslim's life both in the world and hereafter. Therefore, the
inclusion of halal principle in the Foodstuffs Law is commended.
On later application, as revealed by Minister for Food Affairs Ibrahim
Hasan, halal food and beverages products will be labelled. Until now,
only composition and expiration dates are marked or labelled on the
The general public has become aware of the usefulness of expiration
date mark -- which signifies the quality of the products and their
effect on health. But only a small number of consumers understands the
composition of materials which make the products. Whereas this
composition is important to human body. Not to mention that among the
composition, haram materials may have been used.
The plan to obligate producers to put on halal labels on their
products will help Muslims in observing their religious law. Consumers
will no longer be trapped in eating or drinking haram stuffs, because
they can pick products based on the label.
We do not want a case such as the pork fat case which happened and
shocked the public a few years ago, to happen again. Such incident is
not only causing public anxiety, but also doing harm to the other
producers. Halal labelling, therefore, will avoid unnecessary social
This is indeed a problematic matter, especially for producers who have
been including haram materials in their products. But it would not
cause any problem should the producers have not done so in the first
place. And this should be deemed as discriminating people of other
faiths, since they can choose other products.
In other countries, such as Malaysia, halal labelling has become a
law. Strong public demand has compelled its government to set up the
regulation and hence protect the public.
In the United States where the issue of halal-haram does not matter
much, pious Muslims usually pick products based on their composition.
They scrutinize the composition to check whether haram components have
been included. Such practice needs patience and care. For Indonesia,
the Malaysian example could be the referrence.
What also need to be determined are the criteria and mechanism to
assess whether or not a product is halal, institution or agency
authorized to issue halal labels, and persons involved in the agency.
Transparent assessment should be better for us all.
The labelling also provides a promotional means for producers to their
Muslim consumers. But instead of being cynical we ought to see this
positively. The labelling will create a competition among the
producers to produce halal products. If the products are not halal,
then the public will refuse to buy....(^^,)
6 days ago