The proposed new halal logo for Muslim-made products may encourage the use of false logos and raise doubts on whether such items are genuinely permissible for Muslims, local consumer groups said today.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman said the Malaysia International Institute of Islamic Cooperation (Ikiam) should not go ahead with issuing the new halal logo, as it is against current laws on halal certification.
He pointed out that the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and state Islamic departments — which are given the sole mandate by the government under local laws to issue halal certificates — use a “standard halal logo”.
“Why should Ikiam come out with own halal logo? There should be only one halal logo for the country.
“I don’t think any new party should issue new halal certification because it will confuse consumers and people will be confused which one is actually halal,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
A new halal logo on top of Jakim’s existing halal logo would not only be “double work”, but would also raise questions over whether Ikiam had the necessary resources and procedures in place like Jakim to truly verify that products are permissible for Muslims to use.
“Because there is already standard procedure for halal certification and halal auditing process and it is already established, so if another party wants to issue a halal certification, they should have SOP. Because halal certification is complicated, if other parties want to issue, I’m worried whether they have the SOP to convince consumers that is halal,” he said.
Yusof noted that a private company was previously allowed to issue halal certificates, but said the government had stopped this through amendments to laws under the Trade Description Act due to “integrity” concerns.
He said that consumers are already confident about the halal certification now issued solely by Jakim and state Islamic departments, with complaints only on whether businesses have actually obtained halal certification issued by Jakim.
Even if the government allows Ikiam to issue a separate halal logo for Muslim-made products, the fees payable for such certification should be regulated to prevent it from being too high and should also not be passed on to consumers, he said.
“In my opinion, since there is already halal certification by Jakim and state Islamic departments and they already have the procedure, I think it should remain the same,” he said, adding that Ikiam and the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) should first consult Jakim and the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism.
As for the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP), it also said consumers would likely be confused with the introduction of another halal logo dedicated to Muslim-made products.
“If we get too many logos, consumers may be confused. The other people may want to fake it and fake these kind of logos and get away with it,” the association’s chairman SM Mohamed Idris told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
With information on the proposed new logo being very vague, CAP said it might end up becoming merely an “advertising” advantage to manufacturers if it is a voluntary scheme.
“If they really want to implement such a thing, a lot of parties have to discuss and thrash it out, so we need to have more discussions on it, then we can see the feasibility of another halal logo and see what are the benefits and if it will affect others,” CAP said.
Those involved in discussions should include all interested parties such as Jakim, both Muslim and non-Muslim manufacturers, consumers bodies, while a consumer survey should also be carried out to probe public understanding on the halal logo, it said.
On Saturday, Risda chairman Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin was reported saying that the development body plans to launch the new halal logo next year that will be issued by Ikiam only for products made by Muslims.
“The need for another halal logo is to distinguish products that were produced by Muslims against that of non-Muslims besides helping Risda smallholding entrepreneurs and Muslim entrepreneurs make forays into the halal markets locally and abroad,” he was quoted saying by national news agency Bernama.
Zahidi, who is also listed as Ikiam’s chairman on its blog, had said the additional new halal logo on top of Jakim’s existing halal logo would help clear misgivings over the veracity of halal products.
Yesterday, Jakim director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha said the proposed new halal logo for Muslim-made products is illegal unless the products are first certified by existing regulatory authorities, noting that the Trade Descriptions (Certification and Marking of Halal) Order 2011 specifies only Jakim, state religious affairs departments and state Islamic religious councils as the competent authorities to issue halal certification.
IDA LIM@The Malay Mail Online