Halal Conference 2001 was held at the Paris Hilton Hotel during May 13-15, 2001. This was IFANCA’s third conference over the last three years and the first in Europe. With anxiety over BSE and foot and mouth disease, the Conference provided an upbeat spirit in discussing Halal quality and independent supervision.

IFANCA’s President, Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry opened the Conference by welcoming the attendees from 18 different countries, including delegates from the embassies of Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia, representatives of food corporations, government agencies, universities and Islamic organizations. Dr. Chaudry shared his duties as host and presenter with IFANCA Directors, Dr. Mohammed Sadek and Dr. Ahmad H. Sakr, who each have many years of training and experience in food technology and Halal implementation.

Dr. Chaudry introduced IFANCA and discussed the role IFANCA has played in promoting Halal across the world and the role it has played in helping the industry benefit from production of Halal certified products.

The Conference presented information on Islamic Food Laws, the limited number of prohibited food categories, the complexity of food production and how these prohibited food items can find their way into otherwise Halal foods. Industry representatives presented their experiences in getting Halal certification and their experiences working with IFANCA. Representatives of government and Islamic organizations discussed their roles in the production and promotion of Halal food products. And of course, what would a European food conference be without a discussion of E-numbers and a visit to Masjid Paris and the Eiffel Tower.

Mr. Jose Lopez, Managing Director, of Nestlé Malaysia gave the keynote address and he discussed the commitment Nestlé has made to produce Quality Halal Products.

Dr. Chaudry presented an important discussion of critical food ingredients. Today, food production involves the combination of over 5000 food ingredients. For Halal food production, all the ingredients must be Halal. Professor Salim Sumar of the University of Surrey graphically illustrated the complexity of food production. He discussed a study in London, which revealed that 9 percent of 570 beef samples were contaminated with other species of meat. It also found that 12% of meat represented as Halal contained pork or other meat. Professor Sumar emphasized the importance of implementing strict procedures and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HAACP) systems to ensure Halal products are not contaminated.

Dr. Sadek reviewed the prohibited food items, which include pork and its byproducts, blood, meat of dead animals (not properly slaughtered), meat of animals slaughtered in a name of other than Allah and alcoholic drinks and intoxicating drugs. He also presented a comprehensive view of the global Halal markets and presented the Halal production requirements for various markets around the globe. Production of Halal foods requires using only Halal ingredients and preventing any prohibited ingredients from contaminating the Halal ingredients.

Dr. Sakr provided an insight into wisdom of Islamic ethics and he discussed the basis and background of the Islamic dietary regulations.

A number of industry representatives presented their experiences in Halal and in working with IFANCA. Jes Knudsen of Novozymes of Denmark explained that Novozymes chose to work with IFANCA to certify their Halal products because of IFANCA’s global presence and high service orientation.

Dr. Nordin, Chairman of Nestlé Malaysia’s Halal / Haram Committee presented a case study of the Halal program at Nestlé Malaysia. He discussed the details of Halal program, which includes customer service aspects as well as food production. He stated that every product made by Nestlé Malaysia is Halal.

Mr. Francois Fleischmann of SKW Biosystems, the largest gelatin manufacturer in the world, explained his experience in producing Halal gelatin. He thanked IFANCA for the effort put forth to help SKW Biosystems to produce and maintain the integrity of Halal gelatin. He informed the attendees that IFANCA Halal certified bovine gelatin is now available in large quantities to food processors and for nutritional and pharmaceutical use. There is also a limited quantity of fish gelatin available.

Dr. Lipinski of Germany presented the rationale behind the European use of E-numbers in food labeling. E-numbers were adapted as a regulatory tool, with a clear meaning. However, use of E-numbers has limited value on determining whether a food product is Halal or not.

Government agencies were represented by Hj. Mustafa, Director of the Islamic Development Department of the Malaysia Federal Government and Dr. Professor Aisjah Girinda, Director of the Indonesian Assessment Institute of Foods, Drugs and Cosmetics.

Hj. Mustafa discussed the implementation of Halal food regulations in Malaysia and the cooperative effort between the government and religious scholars to find solutions to contemporary issues.

Dr. Girindra explained how her organization monitors Halal programs under the auspices of Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI). She also explained the efforts of the newly formed World Halal Food Council to globalize the Halal standard and a Halal logo for universal use.

IFANCA presented personalized awards to all the speakers in honor of their contribution to the success of this Conference. In keeping with the tradition IFANCA established at the previous two Conferences, IFANCA presented the IFANCA Industrial Achievement Award to Nestlé Malaysia for their role as a leading supplier of Halal food products. Tengku Marina accepted the award on behalf of Nestlé Malaysia.

Before leaving Paris, conference attendees enjoyed a guided tour of the beautiful city of Paris, including a visit to masjid Paris, where they were awed by the beautiful architecture and decorative art. This was followed by dinner and the award ceremony overlooking the Eiffel tower.

Another IFANCA Conference came to a close with attendees expressing their thanks for the opportunity to learn about the opportunities available in the Halal market, the rules and regulations required to produce Halal products, the expertise and support IFANCA brings the industry and the experiences that were shared by producers of Halal products. Perhaps we will see you again at a future Conference. [MMC]