Salamu Alaykum, Hi, my name is Rohaizad you can call me Haizad, I am actually from Malaysia, and currently, I am based in Istanbul. I have a family of five, I am now 50 years of age.

How did you get started in the Halal food industry?

I left actually Malaysia where I’m born and you know grow there. In the last eight years, I left Malaysia and joined a company in Germany after Germany I got this offer to join this company which is Yildiz Holding. So Yildiz Holding is a global manufacturing company that produces chocolate, and biscuits and we have billions of demographic consumers globally. At more than 10 continents, so you can find the market some of our products such as Godiva, Mcvities, Ülker in turkey, Verkade in Amsterdam Etc. So these are some of our products. And I’m actually a Halal practitioner or we call it Halal professional, certified Halal professional and I hope that I can share my thoughts and knowledge in this session thank you very much.

What things are prohibited (Haram) to come into contact with Halal products?

When it comes to the Prohibition of products in halal especially, I can break it up into two. One we will call by default a prohibited product or we can call it non-halal or in Arabic, they call it haram. Then the second category I can call a product which is unfit or not safe for human consumption so these are the two categories that I can break up. So the first one, prohibited product as many people know um, especially in the space of you know there’s a present or Muslim consumer. Alcohol which is derived from alcoholic beverage especially and also product that uses Peak derivative or as big as a flash is considered a probability. It is not allowed to be, what we call to make contact with the Halal product and then this other product basically cannot be clean if it’s up to contact if it’s actually a contact on the food. But if it’s a contact on the surface itself that can be cleaned there’s a proper way how to clean it. So when it comes to for example I think in terms of Pig derivatives are very clear or they call it swine in some terminology but in terms of alcoholic beverages it also means that whenever you have a product or cooked product mixed with for example wine or you know champagne or these are kind of product which is is considered prohibited for Muslims to consume so these are the two major things in what we call prohibited product.

In the second category what we call a product which is unfit or dangerous product which is not safe to consume is actually we can say product which is a spoiled product, a product which is considered dangerous in the sense that maybe the product maybe some you know some aquatic animal that has some poison, you cannot it cannot be used, it is not safe until it is been cleaned so these are the things that, that fall under the category of unsafe product to be consumed and we have to check this even though this product is still within the validity or within the expiry date because sometimes the packaging can be damaged there’s a what we call Micro Leak so and the pathogen and the microbe will grow in the product while we are not noticing it so this is something that we have to ensure that you know it has to be clean, it has to be safe to consume.

How do you make sure food this hygienic?

in terms of how to identify whether the product is hygienic or not, there are a couple of things that we need to check. So number one we need to know that most of the manufacturer’s producers I’m talking about manufacturing are compulsory to have a food safety certification or system must be in place. If you’re talking about the one that is more have a much broader topic to discuss is actually about catering companies, restaurants so it depends from country to Country.

Halal will not exist without a full safety system or Halal cannot exist if the restaurant or catering company are set up in a very dirty environment. So for the manufacturing site, it is always compulsory to have a food safety system in place and they need to be certified and have a periodic audit even though some of them have gone through what we call a surprise, unannounced audit. So this is actually something we need to understand first even though those kinds of a system are in place as a consumer, as a parent we also need to take also a few precautions so they are three steps or three areas that you can identify whether the product is hygienic or not. So this is quite common for Muslim consumers so I’m using a Halal approach, that which is also very Universal even food safety or BRC Auditors are using this Principle as well.

So the first one will be the color of the product so you must have some foundation you must have some basic knowledge of what is the color of the product supposed to be if it’s supposed to be read, it’s supposed to be red, you know and instead of other colors so what we call this is what we call a discoloration, so discoloration if it’s happened then it shows that there are you know the activity of microorganisms there’s a pathogen that might change the structure because the product may be out of the expiry date number.

Number two, we can also even though it’s within the expiry day it can also mean that the packaging has been damaged so that color, so we have to check that. So number two is actually smell, so smell is actually, a very good indicator of whether the product has been spoiled or is not hygienic we need to identify this based on the smell which can easily be detected if let’s say you smell the food first before you consume.

The third one is taste but this is sort of like irrelevant if let’s say you already find you know the color, discoloration you can find the smell is a bit off so don’t try to taste it if let’s say these two elements are already there. Taste maybe if let’s say color you can’t notice that or maybe the smell is not so what we call so you know so strong so, for example, you’re buying a cheese you’re buying pizza. For example then when the taste is off then it means that somehow the product has been spoiled so these are something that we the foundation of how we can use a universal principle in terms of Halal, this is very important. Also, halal consumers also use these three Universal values whenever we’re evaluating whether that space is actually clean or not or whether this product is actually considered clean, so these three principles are used actually to understand where certain things are hygienic, area, space, product is clean or not.

Other things, we also can observe whenever you walk into a restaurant and you can see that the level of skill, the level of awareness of certain food or the handling of food operators also can be an issue. So whenever you can see that a certain premise, a food premise is not well established you know you can see that people, you can see the floor or state. I mean you can see the tables are not clean the what we call the food preparation area is not covered are not clean so there are other ways, to walk into the premise, first observe the practice or the practice or the way how they set up the premise itself.

How important do you think Halal packaging is when it comes to selling food?

Packaging is becoming very important especially in terms of regulations in every country now because the consumer industry wanted that the packaging must be Halal compliant. What it means here, in the past we understand that you know packaging must be clean as long as it’s clean, it’s durable then it’s okay. But recently since that, you know the industry has changed for example, plastic most of the time are made using petrochemicals so packeted chemicals is actually a substance where they used to actually make plastic as a chemically produced product and they can turn it to become plastic. It can also derive from the recycling industry or example agriculture, they can also form the animal industry, so they are concerned whenever packaging especially comes from Animal product some of the example we can see that because plastics, the first point of making plastic is actually the resin, so this resin can be produced by using recycle industry animal and also waste biomass which is an agriculture Etc and also for petrochemical. Petrochemicals are now losing what we call a main primary source so whenever the resin service is from an animal, the manufacturers I’m talking about from the manufacturer’s regulatory point of view have to declare what we call a non-consumable Animal product. They have to declare by law, so through this declaration, we can identify whether a certain packaging in the industry, whether it contains animal derivatives or not so they ask for the regulation in FDA in the EU so there are regulations to ensure that what is manufactured is declared.

It is not mandatory in food regulation to label Foods as Halal do you think it should be mandatory?

My personal opinion varies I would say so, there are pros and cons. Number one we need to understand the go-to labeling for Halal is already out there, it’s already laid down by the United Nation, through the Codex Alimentarius, which is under FAO where they have outlined how to label Halal product because in United Nations need to do this because there are agencies under them, for example, World Trade Organization determine how a certain product, not just Halal but every product, you know food products have certain standards and how they need to be labelled and in order for the customs of every country in the world to understand all this requirement FAO through these Codexs have to list down all these how labelling supposed to be and these are being used by Customs to read whether the labelling, whether the labeling declaring the product is halal in a certain country there’s a secondary requirement that the product must be certified. So the movement of making a product mandatory to be labeled as Halal and technically it has to be certified, there are countries especially most of the major Muslim countries now are going towards making them be you know need to be labelled and need to be certified if the products are produced are meant to be Halal okay um. In my opinion, if the products are not made exclusively for Halal it’s very hard to actually for any manufacturers to label them as Halal because in the industry there are more than 20 over the industry as for example Airline they have more than there are 21 and there are standards about special dietary that required so if it’s the product is not exclusive for Halal in not in the non-conservative country or not in the Muslim country it’s very hard for the manufacturer to label unless a company from for example in the UK they need to export the product to for example to Saudi Arabia or to export to UAE then the product is meant for Halal because the kind of the market itself the market is actually sensitive they usually make an effort to make sure that the product has proper labelling certification if required. So the requirement of the labelling, depends on the type of product as well, for example, the one which is always mandatory will be animal-produced products for example if milk products and poultry products are usually compulsory in any country Muslim country and in-country which has some present or Muslim country, of course, they are some small entrepreneurs a company that is producing and they make those labelling and they make sure that this product is certified.

Um personally I think that if there is a presence of Muslim people in a certain country they should be represented when whenever that they are Muslim present in a certain country if halal is being represented by the government, then proper labelling can be done correctly, a proper policy can be done correctly supported by the voice of the customer. As you can see the customer literally means Market Force, if there’s a Market Force there are more customers. A country like Canada, for example, is one of the countries that is not a Muslim country but they have a regulation that makes. If you are probably making a product that is meant to be Halal you have to label it with a Halal logo and the certification body also needs to be displayed in the logo as well. So these are the examples put aside Muslim countries because most of them are required to be labelled if it’s the product may fall in to be marketed in the Muslim country but a country which does not have a presence of Muslims so this one of a good example is Canada so the voice of customer helps policy maker you know can push policymakers, to make a determination whether labelling or halal certification is required so that’s very important to have a consumer’s voice.

What are the main ingredients shown on food products that Muslim consumers should look out for to determine if the food is halal or not?

Okay to determine whether the product is halal or not let’s start with the basics okay the first basic essentially If the product is natural. Is the product made for vegetables? Is a product made from Seafood some seafood which is halal? Then it’s actually much easy for the consumer to identify whether the product is actually, what we call the ingredient is acceptable in proof then and other than this basic natural product we can say ingredient can or food itself can derive from a couple of sources, number one product in the River Market can also derive from the animal we need some of the components of the ingredient can also derive from an animal. Number two, it can also derive from the plant, for example, it can have from a plant-based component, it also can derive from some of the components derived from chemically produced products or ingredients and the fourth one can also come from what we call produced using a microorganism using a sort of like a proof scientific way how to actually use microorganism in order to have using processing Etc. So in this perspective, we can see that generally which is a processed product can be considered doubtful if the ingredient indicates such in the ingredient, so Muslim consumers need to have basic knowledge. I would say that every Muslim consumer must have a mobile Apps which is designed to identify what are the ingredients, what is the additive, emulsifiers, and enzymes considered which is doubtful. So whatever we call as doubtful is something that needs to be avoided by the Muslim consumer because for Halal what is halal is clear what is something which is Haram also clear so whatever is in between is something that we need to avoid it is something that we are not sure so this is actually where manufacturers or producers need to play their role, they are regulation there are certain things they need to be labelled, there are things that do not require to be labelled. So one of them that I would like to highlight here is actually processing aid, processing aid is a technology or what we call a medium or Catalyst used by the manufacturer whenever they use processing aid are not required by law to actually declare in the labelling because on the labeling is only one of the final component of the ingredient or the product or for to use to display all the labelling.

What is something you learned about halal food which you didn’t know before getting into the industry?

Now the question is a bit softer, it’s a bit about my personal experience. I believe when I first jumped into the Halal Industry as a Halal practitioner I was lost under the impression as normal other Muslim people that you know we have to avoid pigs and also alcohol. That was always in my mind but when I started to learn and adopted and also get proper training in the industry, especially in the airline industry you know my major involvement in Halal auditing, Halal consultation if without food safety then you cannot actually get a halal certificate okay meaning that any product that can harm your body, change you know to change your judgment or change your mind these are what we call also non-halal products so I never knew that before I joined the Halal industry. I was under the impression that you know we have to just make making sure that everyone you know avoids pig products and also alcoholic products, alcoholic beverages product but my sort of like knowledge you know grew from there and working with more organizations a different exposure different experience which I like you know when you travel a lot then you understand more a different culture and how even in the food industry, how they prepare their products and beverages. So that’s what actually fascinated me right to try to understand that you know it is more than just what we’ve been prohibited you know.

What do you think the future of halal food labeling will look like as we can see food now being made in Labs?

Well this question basically um, I would say is a bit too early to make any opinion about it um I guess this still being evaluated by a lot of people, Scholars, Juries in terms of halal but if you if you look to the to the current foundation that we try to understand, Meat lab what they did basically what they do basically is actually to extract the meat cell and they will actually multiply the the cell to actually to make a lot of products from this Meat lab, personally I think that this is something they need to show a technology to convince the scholars/ Juries, because if you see the conventional way you know if you take if you talk about meat product and also the product, the byproducts can you can do with all these wonderful animal products, they are processed naturally and organically for example whatever that the Cattle or cow are eating it is been transformed to a nutrient and the product of dairy products are safe according to food safety, according to the zoology Sciences so this actually a thousand or could be kind of a thousands of years a system where you know animal products are being you know we extract the milk and Etc safely and organically. So meat lab has to prove or on one occasion, how to actually address those you know what technology they use what type of you know modification that they do I tell you to ensure that these are in line with the halal principles. One of the things that we do in terms of managing traditional ways that you need to slaughter the animal, whenever we slaughtered the animal we are actually removing the blood because the blood is actually the one who and the one which carries all the diseases but in the meat lab that’s what they want there’s one thing that what they call Cellular agriculture. Cellular agriculture means that process from the meat lab or meat cell they took, they expand to a couple of foods that they can produce for the Meat labs. But in the process of this cellular process, the blood will be explained as well because whenever there’s a cell and they expand the blood will come in and how the technology is not going to eliminate blood in terms of, in terms of that laboratory environment time will tell how the technology can be explained properly and how did you juries of in terms of Halal can approve this for now. To me personally is still new there are a lot of discussions that need to be made in order for them to be completed as we can see in the Market at the moment so thank you very much for this opportunity.