The Saudi capital of Riyadh makes history as the first ever international conference on halal food in the Middle East, the 1st International Conference on Halal Food Control & Exhibition, was officially opened yesterday (Sunday, Feb 12 2012) by the Governor of Riyadh, Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz at the Intercontinental Hotel.
The event, which is held under the aegis of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, has attracted over 500 delegates and representatives from more than 20 countries. More than 50 organisations and companies exhibited at the conference.
Chairman of the organising committee the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) Mohammed Al-Kanhal said this is the first time such an event on halal food is to be held in the Kingdom.
“There are around 1.8 billion people in the world who consume halal food and its global market is valued at SR2 trillion,” he said, pointing to the fact that they aim to bring both scientific and religious scholars to a common platform to explore new ways of improving the global halal food industry, as well as to chalk out mechanisms to maintain a uniform check on the quality as well as the regulations adopted by the local authorities to ensure that the food consumed is halal.
The chairman said the conference will also incorporate international organizations and private institutions concerned to discuss this vital subject and request them to come up with recommendations which can enhance global trade and harmonize halal food requirements, conditions and control methods.
Speaking to Arab News after the press briefing, Ibrahim Al-Mohizea, vice president of SFDA for the food sector, who is also the executive chairman of the conference, said the organizing committee received 95 scientific papers from the participating countries, but unfortunately due to time and scope limitations, only 57 papers will be presented at the conference.
The official said the four-day conference is open to all irrespective of their faith. The main sessions will focus on genetically modified food, lawfulness of food additives, analysis methods of halal food, control of halal food, its standards, certification and countries’ experiences in halal food control.
There will be two panel discussions on stunning and automated mechanical slaughter and the lawfulness of food produced by biotechnology, nanotechnology and chemical changes.
He said the mission of the SFDA is to ensure the safety of food, quality and efficacy of drugs, and the safety and effectiveness of medical devices by developing and enforcing an appropriate regulatory system.
The SFDA was established under a Council of Ministers resolution as an independent body corporate that directly reports to the head of the council.
Control and testing activities are conducted at the SFDA or other contracted laboratories. The SFDA is also in charge of consumer awareness on all matters related to food, drug and medical devices and all other products and supplies.