Keeping Up With The Pace

By Shahlan Hairalah

Keeping up with the pace

If you are like many who read product labels before buying, you will notice that there is a surge of products found in supermarkets that are affixed with Halal certification mark. They come in various shapes, sizes and colors. In the ingredient listing, you will also notice that many products contain many ingredients that you cannot even pronounce. You like the products but are they Halal? Like many, you would place your trust in the assurance that the Halal certification mark brings. In the shopping basket the product will go. After all, it is a certification mark. Generally, certifying a product as Halal can be complicated and can be challenging. Perhaps, more challenging to the certifiers than to the food companies that want their products to be certified.

Many would argue that the food industry is perhaps, one of the most dynamic industries in terms of technological progress and research. Some others would argue that the food industry is fiercely progressive comparable to the IT and communication industry in terms of research and technology. This is not surprising considering that the food industry encompass a diverse field of businesses and operations that include agriculture, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, processing, marketing and retail, with food processing and manufacturing being the dominant categories.

The food industry does not only feed the world but it is also a business. The food industry spends huge amounts of resources on research and development of products that appeals to consumers, safe and most efficient to produce. In any business, it is important that costs are kept low and production is maintained at its most efficient, all of the time. At the same time, businesses have an obligation to ensure that food produced is safe. And most importantly, the food produced is what consumers will want. There is absolutely no point in producing food that consumers will not buy. These factors contribute to the dynamism of the food industry.

This has been one of the many challenges faced by Halal certifiers in certifying products. Apart from knowledge of the Shariah Law, Halal certifiers also require expert knowledge to apply to the product category that it certifies. Not only expert knowledge but updated knowledge. Be it pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics or health supplements, it is incumbent upon all Halal certifiers to really know what they are certifying. It is their responsibility to the consumers. It is a huge responsibility but it must be done. Imagine a Halal certifier who does not have such expertise or knowledge but certify the products Halal anyway?

I had the opportunity to work with many major Halal certifiers. And I am glad that they are focused on the pursuit of such expertise and are constantly updated.
Being in the Halal industry for many years, keeping up with the food industry never fails to amaze me. As consumers, you can also ride the wave of food industry dynamism. It is too intense for you to miss it. Have you heard the use of liquid nitrogen in the making of ice-cream? Try Google on it. You will know what I mean.

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