Food Integrity and the Halal Industry

A gecko completely fried and coated with seasoning powder was recently found in a half-eaten bag of a famous premium chips. A little while back the nation was shocked by worms found in canned sardines. No matter what caused the contaminations, food safety outbreak can leave a devastating impact. Plummeting share price, bad media coverage, closure by the Ministry of Health, these are some of the worst outcomes the company will be faced with.

The market research conducted by Centre for Food Integrity (CFI) in 2018 revealed that 59% of consumers rank food safety as their top concern. This has driven food companies to be more transparent and produce food in a safe and clean environment. Companies are also recognising the need to have an effective risk management program in place, in particular, where they are reliant on a complex supply chain. Increasingly, food producing or handling companies are developing and establishing crisis management plans to restore consumer confidence, safeguard their brand, minimise disruption and resume normal business conditions quickly in the event of a food related crisis.

In the gecko case mentioned above, the contamination might be caused by negligence in following standard operating procedures or the lack of internal controls.

All these do not only affect the general food consumers but also has a direct impact on our Muslim consumers with regards to halal. Trust is a valuable asset for halal food and other halal related companies. In this instance, consumers are not just placing their trust in the authorities’ endorsement label or logo but also on their perceptions on what the company is doing in producing safe food or products for the market.

The halal industry has garnered huge interest over the years, not only from Muslim countries but non Muslim countries as well. Halal industry in Malaysia has grown rapidly in recent years, with RM208.2 billion of gross output in 2015. As more and more companies venture into the halal business, consumers and industry players choose halal certification as an indicator of adherence and endorsement of good halal practices.

In light of the growing demand for halal food, the Malaysian government is keen to establish the country as an international halal hub and has taken measures to support the halal industry, such as setting up halal industrial parks with special incentives for both the operators as well as the industry players. There are also other halal tax incentives to encourage companies to engage in halal related businesses and obtaining the halal certification.