5th International Halal Food Conference Proceedings 5: Halal Certification—The Singapore Experience
A Summary of Presentation by Shahlan Hairalah, Head, Halal Certification Section (MUIS), Singapore
[Presented by Dr. Mohamed Sadek]
The Islamic Council of Singapore, also known as Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) is the highest Islamic authority in charge of Muslim affairs in Singapore. It was established in 1968 with the enactment of the Administration of Muslim Law. MUIS advises the President of Singapore on all matters related to Islam and provides Halal certification services. While Muslims are the second largest religious group in Singapore, they only represent 15% of the population.
MUIS began offering Halal services in 1972 and the first Halal certificate was issued in 1978. As the local food industry grew, so did the Halal certification services. Singapore is strategically located in the heart of Asia and serves as a gateway to over 350 million Muslims in the South East Asia region.
The food industry has shown increasing interest in Halal as the demand for Halal certified food products has increased, both in Singapore and in the region. Obtaining Halal certification for a food product or restaurant is seen to guarantee an increase in sales. A brief indication of these benefits is shown in the following table:
|Year||Eating Establishments||Profits Realized (%)|
|1994||Kentucky Fried Chicken||20|
|1998||Pizza Hut & Taco Bell||40|
Since 1997, the number of certified establishments has increased from 705 to 1158 and the number of certificates issued has increased from 1693 to 5621. At the same time, the number of complaints received has increased from 187 to 701 and the number of offences has gone up from 2 to 33. The challenge is to assure Muslim consumers that Halal certified products are authentic and to increase public awareness of the economic potential that comes with producing Halal certified products.
While the bulk of MUIS issued Halal certificates are for products, MUIS also issues Halal certificates to abattoirs, food preparation areas and eating establishments. Along with the issuance of certificates, MUIS enforces the Halal standard and provides public education on Halal. MUIS fields inquiries regarding Halal certification, processes applications, issues Halal certificates, audits certified establishments and processes renewal applications. Along with MUIS, the Halal certificate holder and the public each share a responsibility, for Halal certified product or establishment, to meet the requirements of the Halal process.
MUIS officers work closely with the Halal certificate program supervisors, conduct scheduled and unscheduled inspections of the certified establishments and respond to public feedback and complaints.
MUIS works with the appropriate government agencies to correct any breaches of the MUIS terms and conditions. Some of these have been misinterpretations of the Halal status, forging Halal certificates and non-compliance of Halal slaughtering. In addition, MUIS conducts customer satisfaction surveys to continually improve Halal services.
For Muslims, the MUIS Halal certification stamp is a symbol, which gives confidence the product is Halal and fit for their consumption. For the Halal certificate holder, it is a way to increase product marketability and sales. The Halal Food Industry has helped foster harmony among various races and religions in Singapore; promoted social cohesion and increased prosperity.