Following swiftly on the Ajinomoto debacle, the Indonesian Muslim Consumers Foundation (YLKM) has spoken of the need to establish an independent standardization agency, whose sole task would lie in the certification of halal food products.

According to Islamic law, food is separated into that which is halal (allowed) and that deemed haram (forbidden). And in Indonesia, home to the largest Muslim nation in the world, clear definitions of which foods can be consumed are essential.

The current debate over the halal status of Ajinomoto’s MSG food seasoning, which is produced by a process that utilises pork enzyme as a catalyst in the preliminary stages, illustrates this need all to well.

Bambang Sabar Irawan, chairman of the YLKM, believes that an independent authority would reduce irregularities in the issuing of halal certificates, currently the domain of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI), because it would operate scientifically within independent laboratories.