Many years back, Halal in the Middle East, in general, was only concerned with meat products and the process of slaughtering. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, for example, are two important market access points for European, North American, Brazilian, and Australian consumable product manufacturers. Australia, for instance, according to the Australian Livestock Exporters ‘ Council, sending sheep and cattle to the Middle East is big business – about $2bn Australian dollars ($1.35 bn, or Dhs 5 bn) per year.

However, apart from meat being an essential import, Halal legislation increased over time due to the evolution of additives used widely in food products such as confectionery and processed food. Even though the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) governs the GCC Standardization Organization (GSO) standards, both countries take their own initiatives to strengthen Halal importation.

GSO is a Regional Standardization Organization established by the GCC Supreme Council (22nd Session, Muscat, Oman, 30-31 December 2001). They assumed its operation in May 2004 with the membership of the governments of the United Arab Emirates, The Kingdom of Bahrain, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Sultanate of Oman, The State of Qatar, and The State of Kuwait.


According to many reports, The Saudi Arabia Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) proposed a change in Halal regulations, which has extended its mandatory Halal certification for several commonly consumed foods and beverages (F&B).

The amendment is part of a series of reforms that the Saudi Government has been implementing since 2019. For instance, the SFDA established a Halal Center under the aegis of the SFDA to approve foreign Halal certification authorities. This matter effectively requires foreign Halal certification bodies to gain approval from the SFDA for their Halal certificates to be accepted within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With this, the SFDA becomes the sole authority for issuing Halal certificates for all locally produced and imported foodstuff.

In the past, Halal certification was only mandatory for imported meat and meat-based products to Saudi Arabia. However, the new regulation mandates Halal certification for all imported animal-based products or claims with animal substances.


Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) – Port Health and Food Control Section of Qatar has issued the Guidelineꜛ for Importing Halal food and Islamic Bodies Authorized/Permitted to Issue Halal / Halal Slaughtering Certificates in April 2021. According to Qatar, the provisions of this guideline shall apply to all relevant food products, regardless of the country of origin or the exporting country. Muslim countries shall be exempted from the requirement to Issue Halal / Halal Slaughtering Certificates for related products since they have an original commitment to apply the requirements of Halal technical regulations and standards. However, this exception shall not preclude the verification of these requirements in those Muslim countries whenever necessary.

Among the insightful requirements by Qatar on page 5 of the guideline are:

It is prohibited to use oils, greases, or liquids that contain non-Halal components when cleaning or maintaining machines or equipment that directly touch Halal food.

Packaging substances must be free of any non-Halal materials.

Non-Halal meals are not allowed to be prepared with other Halal meals in the same facility that serves food to the consumer, such as restaurants, kitchens, and others.

With the above, some manufacturers’ segregated process between Halal and non-Halal requires a completely dedicated Halal facility for manufacturing or producing Halal products. This is reminiscent of the JAKIM Malaysia requirement in the Auditor’s Manual (MPPHM, 2014), which states that companies producing non-Halal material applying for Halal certification will be rejected.

MOPH also developed a food registration system to facilitate special procedures for specific food ingredients, such as gelatin, mono, and diglycerides. As a result, Halal requirements are reviewed during registration without the need to enclose Halal Certificates for every shipment of foodstuffs containing any of these ingredients and additives. In addition, a system to analyze food for Halal compliance was developed in the Central Food Laboratories of the MOPH.

As a result, officials can now thoroughly check the existence of some non-halal ingredients, such as alcohol percentage, and the origin of some organic ingredients, such as protein, to see if they come from porcine or any other non-halal origin.




Posted by Rohaizad, Industry Columnist

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