November 14, 2008


Fake halal meat certificates abound in Middle East


About 95 percent of imported meat items in supermarket shelves in the UAE and some other Gulf countries have counterfeit halal certificates, an industry specialist said at the Halal World Expo in Abu Dhabi.


Jalel Aossey, director of Midamar, a US-based international supplier of halal food and foodservice equipment, said that there has been a considerable of fraud halal food items in the region from meat-supplying countries, and the Gulf countries need tougher regulations to stop that flow.


On one hand, Aossey said there are producers who genuinely don't know halal requirements due to lack of information, the other reason why fake halal certificates abound. Still, there are companies and exporters that have hoodwinked governments and consumers by not complying with regulations because they don't want to pay the fees and the transition costs to make halal products, he said.


Recent reports say nearly 1.8 billion Muslims around the world as well as some non-Muslims are fuelling the halal food industry, generating sales of US$2.1 trillion annually. The attractive halal food industry is drawing many dubious players.


According to Aossey, corrupt certifiers get a taste for the money generated producing "paper halal certificates" for companies without actually performing any work.


Aossey said also blasted misconceptions on expensive halal processing, stating regulatory measures for halal certificates are not costly and difficult. 


Noor Al Deen Abdullah, executive director of Kasehdia, a communications and consultancy company in Malaysia, and publishers of The Halal Food Journal earlier told Gulf News, "The global halal industry is still in its infancy because huge awareness is required, especially in the Middle East."


The major producing nations are Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Canada, Abdullah said, from where halal and non-halal meat is supplied.


Aossey said that inspection teams can be sent to the various countries where food is being produced to allow it to be inspected, at that country's cost. He said this is nothing "when you consider the huge dollar volume of food products exported to the UAE and other Gulf countries."

Eighty percent of imported food in the UAE is said to be halal with the bulk of shipments coming from Brazil and Australia.

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