LOS BAŇOS, Laguna - A Halal Verification Laboratory (HVL) is now open under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in CALABARZON region.
Servicing the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon, the CALABARZON Regional Standards and Testing Laboratory (RSTL) was inaugurated and turned over Monday at the DOST regional science complex in Barangay Timugan here. DOST-CALABARZON Director Dr. Alexander R. Madrigal led national and regional officials for the inauguration and tour of the new facility that uses the most advance technology in detection of haram (forbidden by Islamic law) and mushbooh (doubtful or suspect foods in Islam) food products. The inaugural and turnover ceremonies highlighted the DOST-CALABARZON 54th Anniversary Celebration themed “Improving Lives and Sustaining Inclusive Regional Growth through Innovative Programs and Services.”
The Halal verification lab was established through the financial support of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) in a bid to strengthen and promote the Halal industry in the country through Republic Act (RA) 10817 or the “Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Act”.
“Establishing the HVL was quite a challenge as these were new testing capabilities that we are unfamiliar with. To do that, the DOST had embarked on international collaboration and benchmarking with ASEAN countries like Malaysia and Singapore,” Madrigal disclosed. Madrigal said that after the benchmarking, the DOST undertook major revamps on the line-up of equipment and back into the drawing board of the project implementation extending the timeline to two years to make sure they are doing it properly from the start. “The growing demand for Halal certified products worldwide, estimated to rise by USD10 trillion in 2030, is an opportunity for us to showcase our local products in the international trade, more importantly that Halal development programs aim to address Islamic beliefs concerning food and non-food products of the Muslim community,” Madrigal added. He assured that the DOST-CALABARZON is committed to spearhead not just in the conduct of quality analytical testing, but also in the noble cause of promoting awareness of Islamic culture. He added that the HVL is more than just complying with Islamic requirements, but more so to enhance camaraderie with the Muslim community to show and nourish respect towards Muslim beliefs. The regional director said that since DOST has already established competence on testing and calibration, it has further strengthened capability offerings of OneLab by crafting policies and programs like the Integrated Halal Science and Technology (S&T) as a program platform that comprehensively provides an avenue for customers to meet their testing needs at a single touch point.
He expressed optimism that the HVL will benefit and harmonize the needs among food manufacturers, Muslim consumers and business stakeholders such as the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Madrigal and DOST officials also toured the lab facilities through DOST’s Science Research Specialist I Jasmin Hamid who briefed Muslim officials Engr. Tana Macalandong of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF); Imam Haj Mohammad Atali, president of the Los Baños Muslim Community; Sheikh Abdulrafih H. Sayedy, Grand Imam of the Maharlika Village Blue Mosque and Cultural Center and the Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines (IDCP); and Norhamina E. Masulot, representative of the Mindanao Halal Board. Secretary Jose Maria Nicomedes F. Hernandez, Presidential Adviser for Southern Tagalog and National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) CALABARZON Regional Director Luis Banua also graced the occasion. During the tour, the officials viewed the DOST HVL technologies such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR); liquid chromatography-mass spectrophotometry (LC-MS); gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), ELISA and AAS.
Madrigal also assured that the equipment would ensure compliance with global standards while imparting technical knowledge in the conduct of laboratory analyses. PCIEERD through its Executive Director Dr. Carlos Primo C. David also turned over the symbolic key of the HVL to signal the start of the lab operations and received the plaque of appreciation from the DOST Calabarzon for the Halal project’s acquisition of “the most advance technology in Halal verification methods”. (PNA)