A Saudi corporation has invested $100 million in the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) in Malaysia to produce halal vaccines for meningitis, hepatitis and meningococcal disease in three years.
Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, the Malaysian minister of international trade and industry, made the announcement on the opening day of the World Halal Conference taking place in Kuala Lumpur, according to reports.
“We are very happy to work with the Saudi Arabian company in setting up a production facility to produce the vaccines.
“The halal vaccines will help alleviate fears and doubts among Muslims on the integrity of the products,” he said.
Health experts will be working to produce the halal vaccines from animal extracts slaughtered according to Islamic teachings.
Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin, HDC’s chief executive officer, said: “We are finding ways to make the vaccines halal, and hope to complete it as soon as possible. The vaccines that are the focus of local and international scientists and Shariah experts are meant to treat meningitis, hepatitis and meningococcal (disease).”
Meningitis causes inflammation of the protective membranes covering the central nervous system. It is caused by infectious agents, physical injury, cancer, or certain drugs. Meningitis vaccines are produced in the West from pig extracts.
Bidin said: “We are focusing more on meningitis vaccines, which are required for those who perform the Haj pilgrimage, but are currently pork-based.”
“Pork-free vaccines will be in high demand, not only among Muslims but also non-Muslims. People will go for the alternative once they know about it. After developing these three vaccines, we will continue to produce others,” Bidin said.
The HDC focuses on the development of halal standards, audit and certification, as well as capacity building for halal products and services.
Meanwhile, there are plans to standardize halal certification for all Muslim countries.
Bidin reportedly said the issue was now being discussed at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“Malaysia is partnering with Turkey to tackle the differences in halal certification and to come up with new standardized criteria that will be applied in all OIC countries.”
He was speaking on Wednesday after a panel discussion on global food security held in conjunction with the World Halal Conference.
He said that out of 57 countries under the OIC, the 10 big players in the halal industry include Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Jamil said most of the 10 countries had approved the new standards, which once applied, could avoid confusion or differences in issuing halal certification.
“This partnership will harmonize halal standards globally as currently there are a lot of differences among countries,” he said.