Malaysia boasts a well-developed halal industry and an extensive network of halal eateries around the country – two of its biggest strengths when it comes to Islamic tourism. The success of Malaysia’s halal industry is largely attributed to the development of halal standards and a systematic halal assurance system which are implemented nationwide.
Malaysia is a pioneer in the development of halal standards and to-date has published no less than ten Malaysian Standards (MS) which are used as a guideline not only nationwide but also globally. These standards include the MS 1500:2009 (Halal Food – Production, Preparation, Handling and Storage – General Guidelines) and the MS 2424 (2012 Halal Pharmaceuticals – General Guidelines), which is the world’s first halal guidelines for medicine.
The development of Malaysia’s standards for the Halal industry is spearheaded by the Department of Standards Malaysia under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), in collaboration with SIRIM and JAKIM as the enforcement authorities. The UN’s Codex Alimentarius Commission has cited Malaysia as the best global example for halal food. In addition to meeting halal requirements, food producers in Malaysia are encouraged to adopt and maintain standards that meet global benchmarks such as ISO 9000, Codex Alimentarius, the Quality Assurance Programme, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), Good Hygienic Practice (GHP), and Sanitation Standard Operating procedures (SOPs).
The average global halal food trade is estimated at more than USD 600 billion each year. Halal certifications such as the one issued by JAKIM is a powerful marketing tool for both food outlets and manufacturers of food products. The correlation between halal food products and food safety and cleanliness make them universally acceptable and approved not just by Muslims but also non-Muslims. The standards and certifications ensure that producers act responsibly to maintain the halal status of their products during all phases of the production, from the raw materials and ingredients used to the processing and distribution of the products.
Malaysia’s Islamic tourism sector is also taking the same route as its halal sector with its own set of standards and guidelines. These standards play a crucial role in establishing Malaysia’s credibility in the global Islamic trade and tourism industry through streamlining best practices, creating systematic development and avoiding misuse and abuse by irresponsible, profit-motivated operators. The existence of – and compliance to – standards and guidelines in a country is important and non-negotiable if it were to attract Muslim visitors as it enhances the visitors’ confidence in the country’s products and services, thus increasing the country’s attractiveness and value as a tourist destination in the eyes of Muslim visitors.