Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Govt in process of setting up halal certification body

Govt in process of setting up halal certification body

Govt in process of setting up halal certification body

100108_09
A shop sells Cambodia-produced Mee Yeung instant noodles carrying the halal logo. The Kingdom is yet to establish a formal halal certification process.

Institute will mean Muslims will not be forced to buy goods on faith alone

CAMBODIA’S government could set up a body to certify halal food in the country as early as this year, the official in charge of the proposed Cambodian Halal Institute said.

The Ministry of Commerce is working in consultation with the Cambodian Muslim Development Foundation under orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen on a certification body, which will most likely be set up by sub-decree, Sop Ra, deputy director general of domestic trade at the Ministry of Commerce said.

No official launch date had been set, and progress has been slow to date due to a lack of resources.

“We have plans to create the body, but now we have only a small taskforce,” Sop Ra said. “We are in a slow process of writing books about the definition of Islam and a directory of Islamic food in Cambodia.”

In the absence of a certification agency, Cambodia’s Muslims have to rely on faith alone to ensure the food they eat is prepared according to Islamic dietary laws, said Othsman Hassan, president of the Cambodian Muslim Development Foundation and a secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour.

“Now we don’t have a proper law to certify halal food, which is why some people put the word halal on their products, but sometimes Islamic people still don’t eat their products because they don’t trust the label,” he said.

One of the most widely recognised products made in Cambodia bearing the halal label is the Mee Yeung (Our Noodle) brand of instant noodles produced by Men Sarun Co.

The company produces four varieties of noodles. The chicken, seafood and beef variants are labelled halal, while the fourth – pork – does not carry the label, given that it is not eaten under Islamic law.

A Men Sarun representative said he was not authorised to speak to the media Thursday and referred questions as to the halal status of the company’s products to another company employee who could not be reached.

Sources within the Cham Muslim community say Othsman Hassan was initially charged with setting up the certification body through the Muslim foundation, but Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh successfully lobbied Hun Sen to transfer authority to the ministry.

Othsman Hassan denied there was any conflict between the foundation and the ministry.

Ministry of Culture and Religion Secretary of State Jakya Adam admitted that Cambodia was taking a different approach to establishing the certification body than most other countries, where halal certification was traditionally the role of local Islamic communities.

“In most other countries, this is completely the work of Islam,” he said. “But for Cambodia, we don’t want to do it that way. We want cooperation between Islam and the government.”

Sop Ra said he has attended courses on halal food in Brunei, India, Malaysia and Thailand and was currently researching halal products sold in Cambodia.

“We are searching which companies import those products and which countries certify them,” he said, adding that they are also searching Halal products which are locally made.

Ihab Mattar, general manager and chef of Phnom Penh’s Le Cedre restaurant, which serves halal food, said he imports most of his products from Lebanon. He also sourced meat locally from Cambodian Muslims, trusting them that it was prepared according to halal methods.

“In Cambodia, they don’t know anything about certifying halal food,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong