PENANG: The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) wants the government to expedite the tabling of the National Halal Council Bill in Parliament to resolve issues and confusion over the labelling of halal and haram products.
At the same time, CAP vice-president Mohideen Abdul Kader said the government should set up an independent committee to monitor the effectiveness of the agencies entrusted to deal with halal and haram matters.
It should also educate the public to file complaints to the authorities regarding halal labelling abuse.
Mohideen said the new law should help to ensure that producers acted more responsibly in labelling food and other products as halal rather than place the burden on consumers to determine the halal status of products.
“The Act should also clarify the proper and allowable use of the word ‘non-halal’ as a warning to Muslims.
“This term should encompass not only meat and products containing pork but also all other products that are prohibited in Islam such as slaughtering methods.
“Presently, halal matters in the country are governed by piecemeal legislation. This leaves much room for cheating by unscrupulous businesses.
“For example, the Muslim community in our country is still dealing with the issues of halal certificate forgery, food processing issues that are not in accordance with Islamic law, the issue of uncertain food ingredients and cleanliness,” he said in a statement today.
Mohideen said CAP’s studies showed that questionable animal by-products such as gelatine might be used by the food industry as food additives and ingredients in processed food and that animal by-products were sometimes used to adulterate foods which were of plant origin.
“In spite of CAP’s calls for government action to be taken, many remained unsolved and new issues have surfaced.
“For example, we found capsules, including multivitamins, that did not declare the presence of gelatine and whether it is halal.
“Muslims who are taking medication in the form of capsules may be unwittingly consuming gelatine from animal sources which are haram,” he said.
Mohideen said the use of animal by-products and antibiotics in animal feed had raised concerns about the safety and the “halal integrity” of meat raised on such feed.
“The current legal framework on animal feed in Malaysia completely ignores the halal issues and antibiotics in them.
“It is time that they incorporate halal requirements and ban the use of antibiotics in animal feed,” he said.