By Resham Fatima
To simplify the halal certification procedure for exporting meat and meat products, the directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) recently issued draft rules on halal certification. Now, Meat and meat products shall be allowed to be exported as ‘halal certified’, only if produced, processed and/or packaged in facility having a valid certification under the i-CAS (Indian Conformity Assessment Scheme) of the Quality Council of India (QCI), issued by a certification body duly accredited by the NABCB (National Accreditation Body for Certification Bodies). This has been done with an objective to streamline the certification of meat and meat products as halal from the country.
The recent step of the government is a welcoming one, however, this step is only for the meat products to be exported outside India and says nothing on the Halal certification system within the country. The last couple of years has witnessed a growing demand for a centralised halal certification process among the country’s Muslim population and the recent notification by DGFT is being seen as a ray of hope. India has the world’s third-largest Muslim population, after Indonesia and Pakistan. The current system for halal certification in India is fragmented and lacks standardization, which often leads to confusion among consumers and potential inconsistencies in the certification process. This in turn has the potential for exploitation and abuse of the certification process as the process is often controlled by private entities without any check and balances. And without any government backing, there is no proper regulation once the certificate is granted.
In Arabic, the word Halal implies “permissible or lawful” and has paramount importance for any Muslim. Halal is especially associated with meat that has been processed and prepared in accordance with the laws, which are related to Islam and its dietary restrictions. A uniform halal certification system under the Government of India on the same line as the halal certification of meat-based products to be exported, would help to ensure that all products bearing the halal label meet the same standard and have been produced in accordance with Islamic law. This would provide consumers with greater confidence in the authenticity of the products they purchase and promote trust in the halal certification process in the domestic market as well.
(The writer is professor in the Department of International Relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Their views are personal. It has nothing to do with JANLEKH management.)