Currently, there is no way to guarantee that food items imported into Pakistan are 100% halal.
The minister announced the update in the developments during a meeting with officials of the Ministry of Science and Technology in Islamabad earlier this month.
He reiterated the importance of the setting up of a halal authority in the country to promote trade in food, medicine and cosmetics.
“Halal food processing in the country would help in earning precious foreign exchange to strengthen the national economy,” the minister said.
He also directed the senior officials of the ministry to speed up their efforts in fulfilling all the pre-requisites, including in the hiring of staff.
The main purpose of establishing the PHFA is to promote and enhance trade and commerce of halal food products, and to gain a share in the international halal market.
Pakistan hopes to ramp up exports of its halal products to about $US1b within the next several years, and has been trying to get the infrastructure and legislation in place to be able to do so, albeit not very quickly.
While the global halal market is thought to be worth trillions of dollars, until recently, Pakistan has had a comparatively small slice of the pie at just US$25m.
Another purpose of the halal authority is to halt the import of non-halal or haram food products into Pakistan. There especially have been a number of complaints over the years about food items having been found to contain non-halal ingredients in them. This underscores the need for a halal food authority to check food products.
Unusually, the establishment of a halal food authority in Pakistan has been initiated by the Ministry of Science of Technology instead of the Ministry of Religious Affairs or of Commerce, as it tends to be in other countries.
From 2011, the Pakistani government had deliberated a bill to start a halal food authority for the country. The PHFA was finally established four years later.
Nonetheless, since then, the PHFA has yet to properly carry out its duties.