The IOFS convened an online event ‘The Way to Safe and Halal Food in OIC: One Step Forward’ on November 4, 2020, where OIC institutions and international food safety and halal experts from Central Asia gathered to discuss a joint action plan on activities in the field. The meeting was held with the participation of high-level eminent experts from OIC member countries as well as relevant OIC institutions.
In his opening speech, Director-General of IOFS H.E. Yerlan Baidaulet stated, ‘safe food production, processing, and trade play a pivotal role in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Science and Technology Innovation (OIC STI 2026) Framework. The Islamic Organization for Food Security (IOFS) understands that food security always goes hand in hand with food safety.’ It is essential to note that the concepts of food safety and ‘halal’ are inextricably linked. The concept of ‘halal’ involves not only raw ingredients per se but also the entire handling process up to consumption. Halal food practices are integral to food safety laws in many Muslim countries and are incorporated in the production of a range of foodstuffs. The increasing public awareness of this link has made the halal-marked products extremely popular not only among Muslims but also among advocates of other faiths. According to Thomson Reuters, the halal food market is expected to reach a value of US$ 3.3 trillion by 2025.
The Panel I reviewed the state of food safety in the OIC member countries, giving special attention to Central Asia. IOFS encouraged the OIC Central Asian countries to develop unified ‘halal’ standards in legislation, accreditation and certification procedures to promote the development of their ‘halal’ industries and help them enter the international markets.
The second panel was focused on the concept of IOFS, ‘From Gene to Fork’, which, unlike the popular ‘From Farm to Fork’ idea stresses the importance of rudimentary gene/seed level of food production and processing. This is to avoid the presence of GM components and genes from products not compliant with Sharia laws (such as pork). IOFS calls for using non-GMO methods in food production to ensure a natural and safe food end-product. As OIC ASG for Science and Technology, H.E. Ambassador Askar Musinov noted, ‘safe food is a basic human right’.
The last panel raised discussions on the IOFS concept note on ‘Food Safety and Halal Food’, which analyses food safety from different perspectives, paying particular attention to compliance with halal standards. The concept note offers a multifaceted approach to food safety that involves close collaboration with food manufacturers, state bodies, and international organizations. Secretary-General of SMIIC H.E. İhsan Övüt offered his valuable feedback, sharing his expertise and recommendations for further work. Some of the participants supported the IOFS policies, praising the serious treatment of this issue and giving advice on next steps and development. The Malaysian side provided a strong presence at the event, involving the Acting Head IDB Center of Excellence in Kuala Lumpur, Professor Azemi Mohd Noor from Universiti Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Ambassador of Malaysia to the Republic of Kazakhstan H.E. Syed Mohamad Bakri.
The expert meeting on food safety was organized within the framework of OIC Agenda on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) 2026, in collaboration with the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, IOFS/OIC member countries, and OIC specialized institutions.