JABARTODAY.COM-JAKARTA. The National Assembly of Alumni of the Islamic Student Association (MN KAHMI) held a “Symposium on Halal Food Certification” at the Grand Kemang Hotel in Jakarta on Wednesday, September 27, 2023. This event, with the theme “Enhancing the Role and Function of Halal Food Certification in Indonesia,” was part of the celebration of KAHMI’s 57th anniversary.
Rudi Sahabuddin, the Coordinator of the Symposium and Seminar for the 57th MN KAHMI Anniversary, explained in his opening speech that KAHMI should focus on strategic priorities.
“I want to emphasize that KAHMI’s position should return to its core principles: Islamic values, national unity, and Indonesia’s essence. We should take a balanced approach, empowering our community, boosting the economy, and fostering entrepreneurial skills within our community. KAHMI should play these strategic roles,” said Rudi, who also serves as the Head of the Food Estate Regional Division of MN KAHMI.
Rudi added that despite Indonesia having the world’s largest Muslim population, nearly 250 million people, it has primarily been viewed as a market. In contrast, countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, and those in the Middle East have taken on more strategic roles.
Rudi Sahabuddin explained that the objective of this symposium is to maximize the role and function of Halal Food Certification in Indonesia.
Speakers at the symposium included Special Staff to the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, Masykuri Abdilah; Vice Chairman of the VIII Commission of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Diah Pitaloka; CEO of PT Berdikari, M. Syarkawi Rauf; Member of the Hajj Financial Management Body (BPKH), Harry Alexander; Head of the Halal Product Guarantee Organizer Agency (BPJPH) of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, M. Aqil Irham; Regent of North Konawe, Ruksamin; and the Secretary of the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health of the Ministry of Agriculture, Makmun.
Abdullah Puteh, in his keynote address, stressed the importance of Halal certification for Indonesian consumers.
“I had a small experience when I visited Vietnam and Cambodia. In Indonesia, we usually prefer street food over expensive hotel food because it tastes better. For example, in Jakarta, we often seek out Padang cuisine or food from Makassar, Sunda, or Java. However, in those places, we could eat anything, but after sitting down, we couldn’t eat because we noticed impurities in the oil. My teacher in Bandung once told me that if there are impurities in the oil, there’s pork in it. This highlights the importance of Halal food, and we should be cautious not to unknowingly commit sins,” he said.
He further explained that while Malaysia currently leads in Halal food, with Indonesia in second place, Indonesia, with the world’s largest Muslim population, should ideally be at the forefront but has not yet reached that position.
“In the future, we hope that KAHMI can help ensure that we implement Halal food practices to the best of our ability,” he added.
During the event, Vice Chairman of the VIII Commission of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Diah Pitaloka, expressed appreciation to MN KAHMI for organizing the event.
“Thank you to KAHMI because Halal products are currently one of society’s top concerns. Halal labeling and Halal food are crucial, and we need to pay attention to their development and systematic preparation in Indonesia,” she said.
She explained that Halal product certification doesn’t only apply to food and restaurants but also to slaughterhouses, including those for chickens and cattle. She also mentioned that the Halal Product Guarantee Organizer Agency (BPJPH) currently has a quota of approximately 1 million for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (UMKM). This quota will involve self-declaration for Halal products. UMKM won’t always need to go through a laboratory test; for instance, for cassava chips, they can self-declare that their product doesn’t contain non-Halal ingredients.
Special Staff to the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, Masykuri Abdillah, added that this issue is important for Muslims who want assurance that the food they consume is Halal. At the same time, Indonesia, with its predominantly Muslim population, can produce Halal goods for export to other Muslim-majority countries.
“This is already stipulated in Law No. 33 of 2014; we’ve only been implementing it for nine years. That’s why we might still lag behind Malaysia, which has been doing this for a long time. We used to rely on the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) for voluntary guidance, but now it’s obligatory,” he said.
He added that there are several focus areas to achieve large-scale Halal food production in Indonesia: awareness among Muslims, awareness among producers, and regulation.
“Regulations already exist, although they may need improvement. But it’s the public’s awareness that needs support. I still see that a significant portion of Indonesian Muslims is not yet fully aware of this. There needs to be more literacy. For example, in tourist areas where non-Muslims are the majority, I see people wearing hijabs eating anywhere, even when it’s clear that there’s no Halal certification. This shows that they are not aware; they treat it as regular food,” he noted.
He also pointed out that from the producer’s perspective, both industrial and home-based, many still do not slaughter animals correctly.
“In areas with a minority Muslim population, perhaps, but in areas with a Muslim majority, there may still be a lack of attention to Halal certification,” he concluded.
The event concluded with closing statements from each of the speakers. Following this event, KAHMI is expected to continue its efforts to monitor Halal food certification, with the aim of making Indonesia the world’s leading player in Halal food. (ruz)