By Izwan Ismail
Getting truly halal-certified products can be quite a challenge for many Muslims, especially when overseas.
The problem led technopreneur Amnah Shaari to come up with an app that can help Muslims around the world get truly halal products.
“It’s a problem many fellow Muslims face. Sometimes when you buy something, you want to know if the ingredients or processes used to make the products are halal,” she explains.
Amnah, through her company Serunai Commerce, with the cooperation of Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia or Jakim), has come out with Verify Halal, a mobile app designed to empower consumers and suppliers alike to instantly verify the halal status of a product simply by scanning the barcode of the product via their smartphones.
The app also allows consumers to search for halal products by product name, brand, company and country.
“People take their phones wherever they go, and having the app in the phone will be handy, especially when they are shopping in a supermarket,” she says.
Verify Halal, launched in May this year, is the first Jakim-approved platform and now has a huge data pool of products that have Jakim-standard compliance from 66 halal certification bodies from 40 countries.
“Many do not know that Jakim has the highest standard of halal certification in the world and most countries that want to implement halal certification will use the Jakim standard,” says Amnah.
The Verify Halal app took six months to develop, and all development work was done by Malaysians. It can be downloaded for free at Google Play and Apple App Store.
“It’s a truly Malaysian creation and we plan to promote its usage worldwide,” says Amnah.
The app’s function to check the halal status of a product is just the tip of the iceberg, says Amnah, adding that its intended objective goes beyond that.
“The bigger idea is to enable those doing businesses that are halal to have access to a bigger market and be more transparent,” she says.
Many businesses that provide halal products cannot penetrate the international market such as Europe because they don’t have a barcode system, and one of the characteristics of this initiative is to enable all products to have barcodes so that all the processes and ingredients used in making them can be traced.
“This is also about food safety,” says Amnah.
“Verify Halal app is part of a digital trading ecosystem that Serunai has been developing along with the global halal data pool,” she says. “We will be expanding the platform to enhance verification and connectivity for small retailers. Serunai Commerce will continue to facilitate and evolve the trading digital architecture of the global halal market.”
The global halal market is currently estimated at US$2.3 trillion (RM9.8 trillion) covering both food and non-food sectors.
With all the news regarding foods and products that are supposed to be halal but are actually non-halal and vice-versa, consumers may be confused.
Jakim’s director of Halal Hub Division, Datuk Dr Sirajuddin Suhaimee, explains that “it’s time to ensure that both consumers as well as retailers and suppliers now have the ability to instantly check the halal integrity of any product. It’s about enhancing consumer confidence and perception towards the Malaysian Halal Standard.
“Verify Halal is not only directly connected to our Jakim database, but also extends to numerous other global certification bodies that Jakim recognises. We want the app to become the global consumer and halal brand reference point. We want it to be a platform for both consumers and brands to bridge information gaps or questions and we also want the app to become a fulcrum for the growth and integrity of the halal industry,” he says.
“It is important for Muslims not only in Malaysia but the world over to have peace of mind as well as access to instantly verify the integrity of halal products,” adds Sirajuddin.
A product can be termed halal by taking into account several factors. “It’s not just always about ingredients, but also the processes involved in making such products,” he says. “For example, mineral water should be halal as it’s just water, but why do we need to certify it? It is because the processes involved in making and producing the mineral water may not be of halal, for example the filter used,” explains Sirajuddin.
All the products to be listed on the Verify Halal app must have Jakim certification first. The rest of the process of getting listed can be found at www.verifyhalal.com.
The app plays an important role in shaping consumer attitudes towards the integrity of halal brands and products and making them less prone to be susceptible to unverified claims about halal authenticity.
Mondelez Malaysia is one of the first multinational companies to come onboard and be part of the Verify Halal app.
A part of the global snacking powerhouse, Mondelez International is home to iconic brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Oreo, Tiger Biskuat, Jacob’s, Chipsmore, Halls and Twisties.
Amnah says the company hopes to make Verify Halal a full-fledged e-commerce platform.
“We are looking at how we can make this platform a marketplace for halal products where people can not just check the status of the products, but also buy them online,” says Amnah.
Besides that, making location-based features available is also in the plan. “This means users will be notified of halal-certified products near them if they are a distance away from the products,” she says.
“Hopefully, this app will be a game-changing factor in the halal market and benefit millions of people around the world,” adds Amnah.