Formed two years ago, the IHAF is an independent, non-government network of halal accreditation agencies. Its purpose is to enforce halal standards in members.
The two other agencies that it will work with are the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), which is responsible for creating multilateral recognition between its halal accreditation members, and the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC), which develops and harmonises laboratory and inspection body accreditation practices.
The three signed a MoU during the joint General Assembly meeting of the ILAC and IAF in Singapore.
“The purpose of this MoU is to promote cooperation on issues of common interest and to describe the technical scope and limits of such cooperation. The methodology of implementation of joint activities under this MoU and the monitoring of its implementation shall be agreed between the parties,” according to terms stated in the MoU.
As such, the three organisations will exchange knowledge, expertise, and develop mechanisms for technical work in areas of common interest.
The cooperation is expected to open up global halal trade routes, promote ease of halal trade and services amongst countries, the Emirates News Agency reported.
"The IHAF is continuously working to forge international strategic partnerships with premier international organisations that are significant in establishing as well as maintaining the highest standards, schemes and practices amongst accreditation bodies in order to safeguard the reliability and accuracy of the halal certificates issued by conformity assessment bodies,” Mohamed Saleh Badri, secretary general of IHAF said.
Terms of the MoU will be reviewed every three years.
IHAF currently has 31 members across six continents.
It is also seeking to work with Malaysia’s International Halal Authority Board (IHAB), another agency that seeks to harmonise global halal authorities and certification bodies.
The lack of an aligned global halal certification system is increasing costs for manufacturers, according to the State of the Islamic Economy Report 2018/2019.
MoU not of religious nature
The MoU is not meant to harmonise requirements of a religious nature, and is only concerned with requirements of a technical nature, according to the terms stated.
“IHAF and IHAF members agree that this MoU only covers activities based on requirements of a technical nature and will never be applicable to requirements of a religious nature that remain solely within the sphere of IHAF agreements. IHAF establishes the requirements of a religious nature.
“IAF and ILAC members are able to perform accreditation of activities with requirements of a religious nature that could be in line or in contrast with IHAF endorsed schemes.”
New IHAF developments
To train more halal product auditors, the IHAF launched a halal auditing training programme with Dubai-based Emirates International Accreditation Centre (EIAC) on Oct 30.
The idea was conceived as they concluded that individuals “should be qualified to audit halal products.”
The training programme will take place on the campus of the University of Dubai.
“We need to have people who are experts in the whole value chain of the halal process – from manufacturing until fork. We are going to train these people in every part of that value chain for them to be experts in auditing,” said Dr Eesa Mohammed Bastaki, the president of University of Dubai.