Post-soviet countries will continue to eat halal with pork, unless a universal halal certification system is created. Such was the main message voiced on 30 July 2019 during a conference meeting on development of halal industry in CIS countries. The event participants have agreed to develop a Roadmap to improve upon the situation.
The halal standardization department had been created in Kazakhstan five years ago. However, pork DNA is still routinely found in halal sausages. During the meeting, Rimma Gakhova, the Representative of the National Association of “Consumer Rights Protection” Society stated that pork DNA was found in halal products of “Bizhan” meat factory, “Pervomaiskie Delicatesy” LLP, and “Rubikom Enterprise” in October of last year. The incidents remain to be investigated as it is unclear how the companies were able to obtain their halal certificates and who has issued them.
The issues with halal certification are common in Russia as well. Recently, a well-known meat manufacturer, “Tsaritsyno”, was held administratively liable, as their sausages marketed as “halal” have been found to contain pork. It turned out that “Tsaritsyno” had obtained its halal certificate from a private company – “Halal Audit and Control Centre” which had no affiliate links with any of the official Muslim organizations.
During the meeting, the General Director of IOFS Erlan Baidaulet stated that post-soviet countries seem to be having identical issues in the halal industry. He considers the main problem to be lack of a universal internationally recognized accreditation body.Currently, the certificates are being issued by international, state, as well as private companies. Those certification companies often do not even recognize certificates other than their own.
The second problem, says Mr. Baidaulet, is lack of both international and state accreditation bodies. Private companies, he notes, often work without accreditation certificates. Moreover, a number of organizations that issue halal certificates are not registered legal entities. Thirdly, halal certification bodies do not cooperate with each other,even within one country. At the moment, halal certificates are issued by five non-state organizations – “Association of Halal Industries in Kazakhstan” LLP, “Halal Holding” LLP, “Halal Damu” LLP, “Halal Quality” and “Halal Services Alliance”. Each of these companies seems to be working according to their understanding of halal principles. The fourth issue is that the certification bodies often issue certificates to companies thatprocess both halal and non-halal productsby the same equipment. The fifth issue is that the majority of certification bodies do not examine their productsfor traces of porkin gene laboratories. Last but not the least problem is lack offundingin Muslim organizations.
During the meeting, the participants have unanimously agreed that an international standard is absolutely necessary for halal industries in CIS countries. The General Director of SMIIC, Ikhsan Ovut reminded that such standards are already present in Muslim countries, and CIS countries may simply need to follow the existing SMIIC model in order to overcome the technical obstacles in trade. However, the tricky aspect is that participation of CIS countries in the development of halal standards and other procedures in SMIIC is still under a question. Nevertheless, their development proposals are already being considered.
For example, Irek Ziganshin, the Chairman of “Halal Standards Committee” of Republic of Tatarstan proposes to prohibit certification of products that contain beef protein of cattle skins. Leading specialists confirmed that such protein is incomplete and unnecessary; it simple makes production cheaper. Its value is doubted also because its halal status is very difficult to prove. Moreover, certification bodies of Tatarstan closely watch for presence of animal rennets, as they are often of non-halal origin. They also do not issue halal certificates to companies that mechanically slaughter cattle and poultry.
To conclude, meeting participants proposed the Secretariat of the Islamic Organization for Food Security to create a Work Group for development of proposals in order to improve upon current halal system in CIS regions and finish the development of Roadmap by 1stof September of 2019. The General Secretary of SMIIC, Ikhsan Ovut was offered a role of a consultant for development, implementation and audit of universal halal standards. Relevant letters and documentation would be sent to competent bodies of country members of IOFS for further consideration and action.