ISLAMABAD: Currently, there is no way to guarantee that imported food items are 100% halal as the authority solely responsible for the task has been dysfunctional since it was established in 2015.
However, in order to address this serious concern and to tap the international halal food market, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Rana Tanveer Husain on Monday announced that the Pakistan Halal Food Authority (PHFA) will be made functional at the earliest.
“Once functional, it [PHFA] will help Pakistan earn precious foreign exchange to strengthen the economy,” he said while chairing a meeting of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The PHFA’s main purpose is to promote and enhance trade of halal food products to gain share in the international market, he added.
The minister, who will also be the head of PHFA, said, “The importance of setting up PHFA is not only to promote trade in food, but in medicine and cosmetics as well.”
Back in 2015, a bill for setting up an authority to regulate trade in food products strictly within what is permissible by Islamic laws was passed. The authority was established, but unfortunately it became dysfunctional soon after.
Furthermore, the PHFA, established under Ministry of Science and Technology, is not acceptable by many as they believe that it should either function under the Ministry of Commerce or the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
It is strange that a country where strictly halal food products are consumed lacks a legal body to guarantee that the imported food and other items contain ingredients that are 100% halal.
An official privy to the meeting, told The Express Tribune that at present, “work is underway on formulating the rules and roles of the PHFA and once done it will be fully functional”.
He said the consumers in Pakistan do not have any platform from where they could guarantee that the ingredients used in certain food products, cosmetics and medicines were halal.
“Almost every day we get to hear news about some haram ingredients being used in certain food items imported by Pakistan as there is no check and balance mechanism in place,” he said.
Moreover, in other countries the demand of halal food items is increasing and Pakistan has a very little role to play in this regard.