"There should be industry-driven global halal standards as opposed to some cleric sitting somewhere and completely out of touch with private sector and the food industry, deciding on what is halal and what isn't," Khairy Jamaluddin, chairman of the World Halal Forum (WHF), was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"It shouldn't be one academy or one academic somewhere in Saudi Arabia coming up with what is halal or not because these people have no clue on what goes into processing foods."
Khairy, the son-in-law of Premier Abdullah Badawi, said current standards for halal products vary among countries, sometimes confusing consumers and forcing producers to undergo repeated certification processes in nations with different regulations.
"There needs to be a greater understanding of the various aspects of halal accreditation, of such products and service, as well as ensuring that there can be uniformity and homogeneity in the application of halal standards, globally," Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz said in a speech this week.
Attracting a huge sector of non-Muslim consumers, the global halal industry, currently estimated by Malaysia to be worth $547 billion, is expected to soon hit the impressive mark of one trillion dollars.
The concept of halal -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Now other goods and services can also be certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Khairy, a leading figure in the Malaysian ruling National Front coalition, said educating Muslim scholars on the needs of a global industry would not be easy, citing seafood as a case in point.
He said some scholars regard all seafood as halal while others believe lobster, shrimp and eels are not.
Opinions also differed on whether seafood was halal when caught live or found dead.
Even food containing emulsifiers, gelatine and enzymes are subject to debates between the food industry and scholars because the origins of these ingredients are not always known.
"A lot of science and research needs to go into this," said Khairy.
He stressed that scholars need to fully examine the origins of additives and food processing methods before issuing fatwas on the halal status of different foods.
The WHF annual meeting, to be held in Kuala Lumpur in May, will gather experts, industry and government officials from more than 30 countries.
The two-day forum will discuss challenges and business opportunities such as ingredients and manufacturing for the halal market.
Malaysia, a mainly Muslim country, is becoming globally recognized as the world's halal food hub.
Halal food production zones are already operating or being built in six Malaysian states, and a sprawling halal distribution hub has been built at a duty-free shipment zone in southern Johor state, on the busy Malacca strait.
In 2004, Malaysia launched a bi-monthly magazine, The Halal Journal, as the first trade and business publication serving the global halal market.Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16