Consumers have increasing concerns on food safety. They are afraid of food-borne diseases that will affect their healthy lives. There are many measures that can be used to monitor the safety of food products in Malaysia, such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Food Safety is the Responsibility of the Industry (MeSTI). On the other hand, the concept of halal covers not only the Syariah law, but also the hygiene, sanitation and food safety aspects. The Department of Standard Malaysia produced the Malaysian Standard for Halal under the quality management or ISO, and it was classified as MS ISO 1500:2009. The halal standard follows the halal principles and provides guidelines for entrepreneurs who are involved in the processing, manufacturing, packaging and transporting of halal products. The certificate of halal gives assurance to the consumers that the food products are produced according to the Shariah law, and that they are also clean, hygienic, environmentally friendly, and respects animal welfare. In other words, the application of halal standard provides the assurance on the safety of the food products.
Keywords: Halal principles, food safety, certification, food quality
Food safety is one of the main concerns of all consumers in the world, as it will lead to healthy lives. The principle of food safety is to have good and quality food and prevent the food from becoming contaminated and dangerous for consumption. Currently, consumers have increasing concerns on food safety, health, naturalness, pleasure, convenience, information and ethical issues, and environmental friendliness in the food they consume (Vermier and Verbeke, 2006). The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that millions of food-borne disease incidence occur every year. Researchers have identified more than 250 food-borne diseases, and most of them lead to infections, caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites. Harmful toxins and chemicals also can contaminate foods and cause food-borne illnesses. The germs that cause illnesses from food eaten include Norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, campylobcter and E. coli. In 2019, there were approximately 166,000 food poisoning cases reported in Malaysia. Meanwhile, there were 180 cases of typhoid and paratyphi recorded in the same year. Food-borne diseases impacted Malaysia’s socioeconomic development by straining health care system and social life of the people.
Many countries have developed enhanced surveillance system to gain better control toward food-borne diseases, as to ensure food safety. However, it is unlikely that the number of food-borne disease incidence still increased every year. There are many factors that could be contributing toward food safety. The changes in food production at the farm, new system of food processing in factories or restaurant or food stalls, longer distribution chains and food storage methods are some of them. The longer food-processing chains will definitely increase opportunities for food contamination. At the same time, there are many indicators or measurements used to identify the goodness and the safety of the food.
Halal food refers to food items and beverages that are strictly prepared according to the rules underlined by the Islamic dietary law. Halal concept is now a universal terminology, and accepted by Muslim and non-Muslim consumers. People look halal not only from the religion perspectives, but also from the healthy and safe food perspectives. Many non-Muslim countries, including Japan have embarked on the implementation of the halal process in the preparation, production and marketing food products. These countries have confidence that the application of halal concept will increase their competitiveness and will attract more Muslim consumers to their marketplace.
According to a report, halal foods had a global market value of approximately US$1.4 trillion in 2017, reached US$1.9 trillion in 2020 and are expected to reach US$2.6 trillion in 2023. According to the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC), Malaysia’s halal industry market value is expected to reach RM614.36 billion (US$147.4 billion) by 2025. This market has shown a steady growth and is expected to expand further in tandem with the growth of the Muslim population and increase in awareness towards halal products and services across the globe. This growth is supported by high demand not only from the Muslim population but also by changing mindset and awareness of the non-Muslim population around the world.
This paper discusses and highlights the concept of halal as one of the food-safety measurements. Halal is an Arabic term to mean permissible. The concept of Halal was introduced more than 1,400 years ago as one of the laws in the Islamic teaching. The concept of Halal is not new, and generally accepted by Muslim and non-Muslim consumers, as the concept has evolved from being an identification mark of religious observation to assurance of food safety, hygiene and reliability. Besides this, many Islamic and non-Islamic countries are implementing stringent regulatory frameworks, which consist of globally accepted standards, to attract entrants in the market.
FOOD STANDARDS AND FOOD SAFETY
Food safety can be described as the good ways of handling, preparing, and storing food to prevent it to become food-borne illness. Unsafe foods pose danger to people and have become global health threats. Every year more than 200 million children contract diarrhea diseases and have been estimated to have more than 95,000 deaths (WHO, 2018). The International Conference on Food Safety and the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade which were held in Adis Abab and Geneva concurrently in February 2019, reiterated the importance of food safety as the catalyst of economic development for every country. Food safety has become one of the national transformation programs in Malaysia.
In order to monitor the food safety, a country normally sets a food safety standard that aims to lower the incidence of food-borne illnesses. In Malaysia’s food and beverage industry are implementing standards in food processing as a way to monitor and control food safety. Food standard is any reference to the composition, quality or other properties that has been prescribed with respect to that food as stipulated in the Food Regulation 1985. Food standard defines the quality of the foodstuff to protect consumers against unscrupulous food manufactures in the preparation and use of food. Among the standards are Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP - MS1480), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), and the Food Safety is the Responsibility of the Industry (MeSTI).
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP)
HACCP is a management system that addresses food-safety issues through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, physical hazards and more. HACCP is a system for food safety that sets the hygiene standards required for the development of healthy food products. The Department of Standards released the Malaysian Standard MS1480 to define health and safety criteria for foods under the HACCP framework to guarantee food safety and hygiene during planning, producing, packaging, storage, transportation, delivery, treating or offering for sale or procurement in any food-industry business.
There are seven fundamental concepts of the HACCP framework as follows:
- Hazard analysis management
The entrepreneur must prepare the hazards that may occur during the manufacturing or preparation of food product.
- Determination of critical control points
- Determination of critical limits
The entrepreneur must decide the maximum and minimum value/limit of the chemical, biological or physical effects to be rendered at the control points.
- Critical control point
The entrepreneur must understand how to take specimens from control point, which techniques will be evaluated, who are responsible to take specimens from the HACCP team, or how often the samples should be taken.
- Corrective action assessment
The entrepreneur must set out the measures to be followed in the event of an incident preventing the safe process of food.
All measures taken are reviewed in compliance with HACCP. This move is commonly conducted by the audit team assembled within the HACCP team.
- Holding notes and records
All HACCP process, specimens, effects, control points and limitations are documented under this principle. In this manner, both sustainability of the quality food is assured.
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is a system, used to ensure the products are consistently produced and controlled in accordance with quality standards. GMP provides guidelines that must be enforced throughout the supply chain, from the selection of raw materials, to the process of manufacturing, packaging and reaching the consumers. GMP aims to produce zero defects and maintain the quality of the product. It also serves as a standard justification for the standards rules and regulations for manufactured products, including food. Finally, this standard contributes to the production and trade of healthy foods that will improve product competitive advantage and increase consumer confidence.
In Malaysia, MS 1515:2009 GMP is the specification established by the Food Safety and Quality Division of the Ministry of Health. It aims at increasing the level of food producer standards for the production of healthier foods. This is one of the manufacturing methodologies that guarantees the production of healthy and secure goods by maintaining the competent performance of employees of the food producer.
Food Safety is the Responsibility of the Industry (MeSTI)
The Food Safety is the Responsibility of the Industry (MeSTI) is a food-safety assurance scheme for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are involved in food processing and manufacturing activities. Under this scheme, all food products are assured not to be harmful to consumers. This scheme was established by the Ministry of Health. It provides guidelines to assist food manufacturing premises in Malaysia, in particular, the SMEs, in complying with the requirements prescribed under the Food Hygiene Regulations 2009.
MeSTI theoretically provides the necessary grounds for SMEs to achieve acceptable food production and processing standards. The introduction of MeSTI is to help the SMES that did not have sufficient resources, technical capabilities, and expertise to acquire Food-Safety Assurance Program that are globally accepted such as HACCP and GMP. The MeSTI scheme provides a fast and relatively easy certification process for processing, manufacturing and packaging the food product. The MeSTI certification logo indicates that the products are complying with the food standard requirements.
Religion is a system of beliefs and practices by which groups of people interpret and respond to what they feel are supernatural and sacred (Johnston, 1975). Most religions prescribe or prohibit certain behavior, including consumption of food. Schiffman and Kanuk (1997) assert that members of different religious groups are likely to make purchase decisions, which are influenced by their religious identities. Such a phenomenon is widely acknowledged in international business and marketing strategies. As Muslim consumers become more knowledgeable about their religion, it is inevitable that they will be more discriminating on the type of products and services that they consume or use (Temizhan A. et.al, 2000). In addition, as consumers become increasingly more sophisticated in their dietary and health-related issues, the relevance of informative labeling and the belief in the right to be adequately informed will be further strengthened.
Halal means lawful and permitted in Islam, according to Islamic Law. Halal refers to a code of conduct which is permitted by Syariah (Syariah is the Arabic word that meaning for the code of life or law, which regulates all aspects of a Muslim life), and it applies to every activity carried out by a Muslim. When used in relation to food, it refers to food which is in compliance with the law of Islam. It is applied to all subject matters. In terms of food, there are certain products that Islamic Law does not allow Muslims to consume. These forbidden foods or ingredients are known as haram –which means unlawful or prohibited. In relation to food and drink, the main items that are haram are alcohol, any part of a pig, carrion (meat of dead animals), carnivorous animals, and blood. Islamic Law also stipulates that all meats consumed must be from animals that have been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic Law, thus making it halal or acceptable for consumption.
The foods consumed by Muslims must be halal, and Muslim consumers are found to be very particular and sensitive about the halalness of the foods they consume. They believe that the halal issue is not just the logo that is being used by the food producers, but it is the total quality control measures involved in the monitoring of the slaughtering, handling, and storage processes as well as all the ingredients used in processing the food products.
Halal has now become a universal concept. Halal stands not only for just and fair business transactions but also for animal welfare, social justice and sustainable environment. It is no longer a concept restricted to the slaughtering of animals for the consumption of Muslims, but encompasses products and services of the highest quality that meet the increasing needs of all consumers in the global market.
Malaysia Standard for Halal or MS 1500
Malaysian Standard for Halal or MS 1500:2009 is the most-recent standard that was created specifically for the production, preparation, handling and storage of halal food in Malaysia. The Malaysian Standard called it ‘Halal Food: Production, Preparation, Handling, and Storage – General Guide (MS 1500:2009) – specifically for food and beverage. It was developed under the Malaysian Standard Development System, under the wing of the Department of Standardization Malaysia (DSM), Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation.
According to the standard, Halal food means food permitted under Syariah law and fulfills the following conditions:
- The food or its ingredients do not contain any parts or products of animal that are non-halal to Muslims or products of animals which are not slaughtered according to Syariah law;
- The food does not contain any ingredients that are najs (non-halal) according to Syariah law;
- The food that is safe and not harmful;
- The food that is not prepared, processed or manufactured using equipment that is contaminated with things that are najs (non-halal) according to Syariah law;
- The food or its ingredients do not contain any human parts or its derivatives that are not permitted by Syariah law; and
- During its preparation, processing, packaging, storage or transportation, the food is physically separated from any other food that does not meet the requirements stated above.
This standard contains practical guidelines for the food industry in the preparation and handling of halal food (including nutrient enhancers). It aims to set the ground rules for food products or food businesses in Malaysia. The standard is used by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) as the basis for certification, whilst other requirements will also be taken into account to complete the certification process.
Entrepreneurs who are eligible to apply for the Halal Confirmation Certificate are categorized as follows:
- Food Product/ Beverages/ Food Supplement;
- Food Premise;
- Consumer Goods;
- Cosmetics and Personal Care;
- Logistics; and
Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) is the agency responsible for the Islamic affairs including halal certification in Malaysia. Therefore, JAKIM plays very important role to protect Muslim consumers in Malaysia.
Generally, the key points of these standards are as follows:
- Quality assurance and Quality control;
- Hygienic practices and sanitation;
- Hygiene workers;
- Qualifying and validating;
- Audits of internal control and efficiency; and
- Documentation and record
These standards basically follow the International Quality Standard. The benefits of applying the halal certification are as follows:
- Penetration to the largest market share in the food sector as Malaysia’s halal logo is highly recognized and well accepted by Muslim consumers worldwide;
- Malaysia’s halal certification system increases the confidence to business owner, customers, suppliers and other stakeholder that the products are halal and Syariah compliant;
- The standards entail specific technical requirement on halal and complying to the standard provide the business with the recognition for competitive edge;
- Increase customer trust;
- Ensures that the customers are confident that the items they buy as food are safe ;
- Act according to the concept of preventive approach and avoids damage, restructure and product recalls;
- Increase the quality of the product by monitoring critical points that can endanger customer health;
- Provides necessary compliance concerning customer demands; and
- Helps the products to compete in the international markets.
Consumer acceptance toward halal certification
A study was carried out to measure the awareness and the acceptance of Malaysian consumers toward halal certification (Golnaz et al., 2015). This study involved 1,716 Muslim respondents. The study revealed that consumer confidence on halal logo is recognized as the first factor that determines the importance of halal certification in purchasing food products. Around 85.7% of Muslim consumers check the halal logo on the package before they purchase the food products. More than 78.7% of Muslim consumers believe that product with halal logo is assured halal, and the logo help them in making decision before purchasing the food products. When the Muslim consumers are less confident on the country of origin, they will check whether the product has a halal logo on the package. The halal logo makes them more confident in purchasing the food products. The result from this factor suggests that consumers pay attention to halal logo from different aspects, and they are generally positive towards halal logo on food products.
Another factor that is also important for Muslim consumers is food safety and health consciousness. More than 78.1% of Muslim consumers believe that halal food is safer to be consumed, while around 70.6% believe that by purchasing halal food, they are making a healthier choice. On the halal logo, around 62.1% of the Muslim consumers associated the halal logo with cleanliness of the food product and safe to be consumed. The results indicate that apart from the religion obligation of consuming halal food, consumers are aware of the underlying advantages that come with halal products. This study revealed that Muslim consumers are concerned and give priority towards halalness when they purchase their food products. In another study revealed that the perception of non-Muslim consumers about halal food products is influenced by their attitude, subjective norm and perceived behavioral control. The non-Muslim consumers understand that food items carrying the logo Halal are prepared in the most hygienic way and clean to be consumed (Haque et al., 2015).
On the other hand, the non-Muslim entrepreneurs look halal from the business perspectives. The global Halal industry valued more than 2.2 trillion dollar, encompasses food, medicine, pharmaceutical, transportation and tourism. For example, the ten biggest halal exporters in the world include the U.S., Argentina, New Zealand, France, Thailand, Brazil, and Singapore which their share of the Halal market is about 85% of the 2.2 trillion dollar (Japan Halal, 2021). Halal is one of the promising industries, influenced by the consumptive power of Muslim in the world.
Halal Food Safety Management (HFSM)
The International Organization for Standardization or ISO has established the Standard Halal Quality Control, Halal product - General Requirement for Halal Food and the Guideline for Halal Food Management system, which is based on ISO 22000:2005 Standard and on the principles of HACCP. Halal food safety management system is based on the following principles:
- Company vision and responsibility
- Sanitary system
- Traceability of the product from the first processing stage to the consumer’s table
- Hazard assessment
- Continuous monitoring and improving
The principle of safety under the ISO 22000 is that food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared and/or eaten according to its intended use. On the other hand, the principles of halal indicate that halal food is compulsory for Muslims, safe for consumption, does not harm the consumers and build confidence among consumers. In other word, the Halal principles complement the food safety control as stated in the quality management system.
The guidelines aim to provide knowledge about the ingredients and processes of the production, preparation, handling and storage of halal food, to ensure maximum control Halal Tayyiban according to Syariah law. Halal principles are applied to all international standards relating to food safety. Thus, it can be used as a stand alone or can be integrated to other food safety management system that are already implemented in the organization. The general parameters of a conformity assessment required by Islam are similar to those of management system, such as the standards, inspection, certification and accreditation.
Halal is one of the total quality control measures involved in the monitoring of the food processing, handling, and storage processes as well as all the ingredients used in processing the food products. The halal principles complement the food safety measures required by the health authority in the world and thus, increase their competitive advantage in the global markets.
Muslim consumers are increasingly expecting assurance that the food and beverages manufactured have fully complied with Islamic preparation requirements from the very start of the manufacturing process. Food manufacturing industries must be sensitive in using or sourcing ingredients that are genuinely halal. The manufacturers themselves should take the initiative to trace the origin of the ingredients used and how they are being processed.
Marketers and importers of manufactured food products that carry the halal logo must ensure that the products that they bring into the country are ensured of its halalness. Manufacturers of food products must be made aware of the halal principles and the importance of such principles in food preparation and processing. Halal processing can only be improved not only through better total monitoring by the certified authorities but also the integrity of those involved in the food manufacturing industries and not just through the printing of any single logo on the food product.
Bonne, K., Verbeke, W. (2006), Muslim consumer's attitude towards meat consumption in Belgium: insights from a means-end chain approach, Anthropology of Food, 5, pp 511-23.
Bonne, K., Vermeir, I., Bergeaud-Blackler, F. and Verbeke, W. (2007). Determinants of halal meat consumption in France, British Food Journal 109 (5), pp. 367–386.
Department of Standards Malaysia. Malaysian Standard: MS1500;2009 Halal food - production, preparation, handling and storage -General guidelines. Retrieve from MS 1500: HALAL FOOD - PRODUCTION, PREPARATION, HANDLING AND STORAGE - GENERAL GUIDELINES (SECOND REVISION) (resource.org)
Golnaz, R., Zainalabidin and Mad Nasir, S. (2015). Halal principles and food safety: the complementary effect. International conference on food security during challenging times. University Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Selangor.
Halal in Japan (2021). How To Support And Expand The Halal Market In Japan - Halal In Japan. Retrieve from http: halalinjapan.com/blog/halal_market expansion.
Halal Malaysia Official Portal. Procedures for appointment of foreign halal certification bodies. Retrieve from www.halal.gov.my
Haque, A. K. M. Ahasanul and Yasmin, Farzana and Tarofder, Arun Kumar and Hossain, Mirza Ahsanul (2015) Non-Muslim consumers’ perception toward purchasing halal food products in Malaysia. Journal of Islamic Marketing, 6 (1). pp. 133-147. ISSN 1759-0833
Johnston, Roland L. 1975. Religion and Society in Interaction: Sociology of Religion. Prentice Hall, USA