The International Halal Accreditation Forum (IHAF), the world’s first Halal accreditation network, took a major leap toward spreading its standardized halal accreditation agenda worldwide with the approval of accreditation agencies from United States of America, Philippines, Jamaica, Morocco, Libya, Nigeria, and Kazakhstan as members.

The approval of International Accreditation Service (IAS) from the United States of America, Philippine Accreditation Bureau (PAB), Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) as full members came during the second Board of Directors (BOD) meeting of IHAF, held recently at Vancouver in Canada.

Commenting on the approval, Mohammed Saleh Badri, Secretary General of the IHAF, said: “IHAF is ceaselessly working toward increasing the network of countries adopting unified halal accreditation standards, which is critical to ensure sustained growth and enhancing the credibility of halal sector, given its rising popularity worldwide. With the approval of four new member associations, the number of IHAF members has now increased to 27 accreditation bodies representing 28 countries and we are expecting the number of members to double within two years.”

Driven by its mission of creating a strong global halal market and facilitating international trade, UAE-based IHAF is strongly focused on harmonizing halal standards in various countries, easing the flow of halal products between countries and facilitating international halal food trade, with a view to tapping into the astounding potential of the international halal food market and go beyond its projected growth of $1.7 trillion by 2021.

IHAF facilitates mutual recognition between member accreditation bodies to enhance international trade in the field of halal and assures governments and regulatory bodies that halal products under the IHAF’s umbrella need no further testing, certification or verification. By streamlining the accreditation, certification and monitoring processes, IHAF also facilitates cost-effective accreditation; thereby producing cheaper halal goods and promotes accessibility to global markets for halal-related firms.

“The benefits of a credible accreditation and keenness to tap into the rapidly expanding halal market, are leading to a growing interest from countries toward adopting a unified halal accreditation, as is visible from the increase in the number of IHAF members. Countries following unified accreditation standards are at a clear advantage in global market, in terms of credibility, costs and stand stronger when it comes to expanding their global footprint,” Badri added.

During the BOD meeting, the directors also approved Libyan Accreditation Center (LIBAC) and Moroccan Accreditation Services (SEMAC) as Associate Members, and granted Affiliate membership to the Nigeria National Accreditation Service (NiNAS), National Centre of Accreditation (NCA) from The Republic of Kazakhstan, and Accreditation Affairs Section (KAAS) Public Authority for Industry from State of Kuwait.

The board members discussed and approved the draft of IHAF Appeals Policy and also gave a go ahead to the appointment of Aysha Abdullah Saleh from ENAS as the Chair for Media and Marketing Steering Committee.

During the meeting, the IHAF General Secretary presented an update of actions taken for the decisions from the first Board of Director meeting that was held in May in Dubai, UAE. He also presented the progress on cooperation with ILAC/IAF Regional Bodies. IHAF General Secretary presented an overview of IHAF Management System along with the development of the e-meeting system and e-balloting system to be used by members.

The meeting was attended by Emmanuelle Riva, Vice Chairman of IHAF, and Director at the Italian National Accreditation Body (ACCREDIA); Rob Miller, General Manager at American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA); Hany El Desouki, Executive Director at Egyptian Accreditation Council (EGAC); Abdulla Al Maeeni, Director General at Emirates National Accreditation System (ENAS); Ahmed Almutairi, Director General at GCC Accreditation Center (GAC); Ismat Gul Khattak, Director General, Pakistan National Accreditation Council; Rula Madanat, Director at Jordanian Accreditation System; Eng. Saud Al Askar, Deputy Governor for conformity at GAC; Sutthinee Intarakamhaeng, Quality Manager at Thailand’s National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (NSC) and Dr. Abhichartbut Rodyoung, Office of Standards Accreditation at NSC.

Peter Unger, previous chair of ILAC; Sylvana Ricciarini, President at International Quality Excellence in Infrastructure Systems (IQEIS); and Atta Subhan, Accreditation Manager at GCC Standardization Organisation, also attended the board meeting.