How we view Food has changed. Decades ago, Food was not just a thing which fills our stomach, it was much more. We all had the concept of using fresh produces brought off the market, blending spices and making our own masala recipe, rearing livestock and slaughtering at home and preparing scrumptious meals; leaving each food with a legacy that still exist today. However, with tremendous growth in population, advances in sciences & bustling lifestyle of humans today, we are settling in for ready to prepare & eat foods, pre-cooked meals and what not. Though these may sound simple, the way to producing these is fairly complicated. With each individual Raw Materials & ingredients coming in from different countries and sometimes even across continents, the complex processing methodology employed at different stages of production, different grades of materials used for packaging, diverse storage conditions; what we assume we eat is not what we eat.
There are several regulations which have enabled control at each and every step throughout the Process Chain like HACCP which prevents the entry of hazards, GMP enabling control of environment and so forth. One such regulation, which has been there for centuries but whose potential has been recognised only in the past decade is the ‘Halal Certification’. And this would make huge difference for Muslims, as they are bound to use & consume only Halal products; which would in turn require every substance that goes into the product to be Halal.
Halal, as of today, has been redefined to include not only Food and Meat but all the allied services right from Farming till storage and display of finished products and also extending the concept to other consumer goods like Cosmetics & Personal care on one hand; to providing Halal friendly services which would enable a practicing Muslims to adhere to the religion.
Several countries have specified Halal standards for products and services. While there might be differences in these standards, the core essence of all these standards is to avoid any non-halal substance from entering the halal products or services at any stage. However, most of these standards, do not do consider the other aspects of Halal certification which is to say the Food Safety, GMP and the regulations that are part of national requirements. These are simply overlooked during Halal Certification.
There are also standards specified for the Halal Certification Bodies (HCB) awarding Halal certification to industries. Each accrediting body has set there own norm for a HCB and how it must operate. In here, lies the vast difference between the requirements of different nation’s accrediting bodies. Countries like Malaysia & Singapore have much simpler requirements for a HCB, however Gulf standards are more in line with ISO standards thereby making it a arduous task for several old players in the certification field to achieve the accreditation.
While several HCB exist in India, none of them have been accredited to ISO 17065 standards (i.e. the ISO requirements for a product certification body), so far. To overcome this shortcoming and provide with Quality Halal Certificates that not only looks into Halal aspects but also ensures Food Safety, HACCP & GMP implementation, in processing units & industries, ensuring the compliances to regional regulation as well as the export destination’s standard requirements; Halal Asia Services or HAS was setup in Chennai. HAS intends to provide assessment activities to Food processors Slaughter Houses & Cosmetic Manufacturers in India, on par with the International standards (ISO 17065) and also complying with UAE.S 2055-2 (i.e. the requirement for a Halal Certification Body). The implementation of dual standards (ISO 17065 & UAE.S 2055-2) raises HAS to the status of a perfect Conformity Assessment Body whose every step is documented & reviewed; thereby showcasing the transparency of its activities.
Halal Asia Services (HAS) is the first organisation in India to be recognized and approved by Emirates Authority For Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) the Federal body of the government of UAE (United Arab Emirates), and accredited by GCC Accreditation Center (GAC) to offer conformity assessment services and certification of Halal food and slaughter house products intended for the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) member countries. HAS is in partnership with GulfTIC Certification, UAE. Further, the collaboration of HAS with international players have made it easier to blend into the field of Halal certification thereby eliminating any drawbacks of being a new concern. With changes in the rules better suiting the need of the hour and to eliminate counterfeit certificates, only those adapting to changes will continue to progress and those resisting will cease to exist.