The process to certify a product halal can be tortuous, even before an application is started. Manufacturers must be able to document minute elements of their supply chain to ensure that ingredients have not come from sources that are not permitted or contain pork or alcohol traces.
It can take months to prepare the paperwork needed for an application, and even so companies seeking certification with Jakim, Malaysia’s heavyweight halal authority, might then find that their application does not stand up. This might force them to resubmit their application altogether.
Many choose to pay certification consultants to vet their applications beforehand. While many of these are reputable, there have been cases of so-called consultants working fraudulently, leaving their clients to restart the process from scratch.
A Malaysian state government’s commercial agency hopes to have found a way around the difficulties of preparing for certification by developing a platform that will rate the completeness of an application.
Costing MYR200 ($47.70) per application, Aspire Rating gives cosmetics manufacturers a week to answer a 178-point questionnaire covering their preparations. It then gives them a report on their state of readiness to go ahead with an application.
How does it work?
Each question goes deep into the application process, based on Jakim’s regulations, guidelines and other requirements relating to halal and toyyiban aspects of health, safety, quality and hygiene.
Upon completing the assessment, which is also available for the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and tourism segments, companies will understand more clearly their current halal gaps and identify areas of improvement through a generated report, according to Zukarnine Shah Zainal Abidin, chief operating officer of Halal International Selangor, the agency behind the initiative.
The agency, which promotes the halal industry in the state which surrounds the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, decided to launch the tool to address the volume of feedback it had received from companies that had been struggling to lodge their Jakim applications.
Malaysia’s economic powerhouse, Selangor contributes almost a quarter of national GDP, with almost 1,750 of its companies certified halal across all segments.
“Instead of going into certification not knowing that you are weak in certain areas, you are able to have the these beforehand, you can do what you need to do to rectify them,” said Zukarnine
“This would definitely be an assistance for you to make your application smoother, but can’t guarantee you will get your certification because we are not a certification body.”
While the service has been developed with Selangor businesses in mind, it can be used by any international company considering Jakim’s halal stamp, which is considered the gold standard for certification around the world.
“With this system, the misconceptions about the difficulty of obtaining halal certification will be addressed accordingly,” said Rodziah binti Ismail, a state minister and chair of Selangor’s standing committee on entrepreneurial development.
“Given the right investment and development strategy, we believe the Selangor halal industry is poised to propel itself as a leader in the global marketplace.