A memorandum of understanding has been signed by a consortium of food manufacturers, with regard to a new proposal for halal certification. The official logo to guarantee halal produce is that of Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) but while this will help Muslims make easy food choices, Malaysian government minister Dr Abdul Hamid Othman, has announced that it will not be forced on any manufacturer.

Othman explained that the government will not conduct research or issue certificates for "non halal" food because it may be prejudice against those manufacturer. He spoke at Cyberjaya yesterday (20 October), urging "the public should not be alarmed or misled by unfounded rumours."

Nearly 1.3bn Muslims worldwide eat halal food as a symbol of their religious beliefs, and the global industry is huge, estimated to be worth US$150bn. Many US Islamic societies have undertaken to compile lists of non-halal foods, but many of the brands involved then met the local requirements for halal food

The consortium members, including Oracle Corp Malaysia, RHB Bank and ePedas, are expected to play a leading role in the halal sector; agriculturally or in the fields of manufacturing, logistics and trading. A new e-business, HalalXchange.com is now been developed by the group. As Zurina Zubir, executive director of ePedas, explained: "We are well-positioned to spearhead this exchange and bring together manufacturers and producers of the halal food industry worldwide to an electronic marketplace."