Consumer groups and the government met on Wednesday to discuss a better system of Halal certification after the recent Ajinomoto taste enhancer controversy gripped the nation.
Under the current system, products have to obtain a halal certificate, permitting Muslim consumption, through the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI). But the Indonesian Consumers Foundation (YLKI) has now argued that there should be an onus on producers to label their goods as being appropriate for Muslim consumption, a move that has been rejected by the MUI’s Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Analysis Body (LPPOM MUI) who maintain that halal labelling is still the most appropriate measure.
The LPPOM MUI ruled that in the recent Ajinomoto case, the product was not halal because the company had used substances derived from pigs in its Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) production process. Ajinomoto Indonesia was forced to withdraw its products from store shelves despite the fact that traces of pork were not actually found in the final product. Islam bans the consumption of pork or any by-product derived from pigs.
“There are obviously some haram (forbidden by Islam) food products in the market, like those imported from Taiwan or Korea. But there’s no halal or haram label on the packaging,” said Tini Hadad, a member of the Foundation’s board of directors.
Tini argued that the government should provide clear criteria for halal and haram. “How are the producers supposed to know that they can’t even use a haram substance in its production process even though their final product is halal?” she said. Tini added that a haram label is especially important because the MUI is unable to analyse all products going into the market due to their limited resources.
For more on the issues of Halal certification, see our feature, click here.