Halal Industry 

SMIIC expects Turkey’s planned halal accreditation body to implement its standards – Sec Gen

| 05 June, 2017
 Emmy Abdul Alim
SMIIC expects Turkey’s planned halal accreditation body to implement its standards – Sec Gen
Photo: Turkey's ministry of economy building in Ankara on 12 December, 2016. Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com

The Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries (SMIIC) will be expecting Turkey’s planned halal accreditation institute to implement its standards, SMIIC secretary-general Ihsan Ovut told Salaam Gateway.

Turkey's ministry of economy had prepared a draft bill outlining the establishment of an Institute for Halal Accreditation (HAK) to meet the growing demand for halal products and their certification, and represent Turkey in international organisations that operate in the field of halal accreditation and certification, Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported on May 29.

“For the case of the Institute for Halal Accreditation of the Republic of Turkey, we will be expecting from them the implementation of OIC/SMIIC standards in their activities,” said Ovut in an email to Salaam Gateway.

Citing a statement from the ministry of economy, Daily Sabah also reported that HAK will operate independently of the Turkish Accreditation Agency (TURKAK) as TURKAK’s halal accreditation “is not based on the common standards set forth by the European Union” and as a result “exceeds the scope of the TURKAK.”

TURKAK is a full member of the European Cooperation for Accreditation.

The draft bill has not been seen by the Istanbul-based SMIIC, according to Ovut.

“As an intergovernmental institution, we respect the national initiatives of all SMIIC Member States in the halal conformity assessment activities,” said Ovut.

“The objective of SMIIC is to make possible the use of [OIC/SMIIC’s halal standards] within both Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and non-OIC region as the basis for halal conformity assessment activities,” said Ovut.

SMIIC is responsible for the preparation and harmonisation of standards among OIC countries. It counts 33 OIC full members and 3 non-OIC observer states.

Turkey’s planned halal accreditation body was welcomed by Dubai-based International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF).

“We at IHAF believe that the establishment of an Institute for Halal Accreditation (HAK) is a good initiative from the Turkish government, which indicates the importance of halal assurance within Turkey,” Mohamed Saleh Badri, IHAF secretary-general told Salaam Gateway.

“We hope that the new institute can join IHAF to be part of our global network of accreditation bodies in [the] halal field that can contribute to halal trade facilitation and halal product development,” added Badri.

IHAF’s membership comprises OIC and non-OIC accreditation bodies. It works to harmonise halal accreditation and conformity assessment practices and refers to SMIIC halal standards.

‘ISLAM BASED’

Turkey’s need to separate its halal accreditation from TURKAK’s work with the European Cooperation for Accreditation highlights an ongoing issue in the halal industry.

“Moreover, the requirements that the halal certification bodies included in the SMIIC standards be Islam based creates a concern since the [European Cooperation for Accreditation] might consider this requirement discriminatory,” Daily Sabah quoted Turkey’s ministry of economy as saying.

In an attempt to bring halal standards into its institutional mainstream, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) had put halal standards on its agenda in 2015 but the technical committee was disbanded.

According to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the attempt failed as Islamic fiqh issues may create challenges while deciding on the critical issues in the technical process.

There was also strong opposition from European Muslims who believe that halal standards must be “owned” by the Muslim community.

In January 2016, a proposal by Geneva-headquartered International Organization for Standardization (ISO), for a Technical Committee on Halal, was rejected at its voting session. A key reason for the rejection was that duplicative work and individual approaches to halal standards under different platforms should be avoided, as SMIIC’s efforts representing Islamic countries were recognised.

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