Wed, 10 Aug 1994

Islamic council certifies products from giant Indofood

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) yesterday certified as halal (fit for consumption by Moslems) a wide range of products from giant food manufacturer PT Indofood Sukses Makmur.

MUI Chairman Hasan Basri presented to company representatives the halal certificates for 19 Indofood products, ranging from instant noodles, to snacks including the best selling Chiki, baby food, soy sauce, various sauces, flavor enhancers, biscuits and cereal drinks.

"Given that the majority of Indonesians are Moslems, the provision of halal food is non-negotiable," said Darwies Ibrahim, an Indofood director, during the ceremony at the Grand Istiqlal Mosque.

"Now that Indofood products are also reaching foreign shores, it is our policy to make halal products wherever they are produced or marketed," Darwies said.

The certificates were given after a long and intensive inspection by the MUI's Agency for the Inspection of Food, Medicines and Cosmetics.

Aisjah Girindra, the agency's chief, said the process lasted over a month and involved 11 personnel who inspected, audited and carried out field and laboratory surveys.

Then the MUI's Fatwa Board, whose members issued the council's rulings, were brought in to discuss the findings.

"We realize that Indofood's products are reaching even the most remote areas of the country," Aisjah said. "We feel that we should extend our appreciation to PT Indofood for its willingness to open its doors to our inspection, because they even disclosed some classified information."


Indofood is a publicly-listed company which is majority-owned by the powerful Salim Group of Liem Sioe Liong. The company has a virtual monopoly on the lucrative and expanding Indonesian instant noodle market.

In the last eight years, the company has managed to weather two crises. In 1988, there were allegations that its noodle products used pork shortening.

Last month, the company was forced to launch a massive public relations exercise after allegations that five people died and dozens others were hospitalized after consuming its instant noodle products. The government later determined that the allegations were unfounded.

In a press statement yesterday, the company said that the MUI inspectors also checked the plant and equipment to ensure that they are truly hygienic and not contaminated.

The company has taken steps to contract only suppliers who strictly observe the halal ruling. Indofood also requires them to sign a statement that none of the material they supply contains pork shortening.

The company ensures that animals are slaughtered in accordance with Islamic teaching.

The MUI beginning this year has taken on the task of issuing halal certificates after it became apparent that the Ministry of Health was restricted to solely the health aspects.

Aisjah urged Indofood yesterday to publicize as widely as possible the granting of the halal certificates.

"Some people might consider this an attempt to `commercialize the MUI certificates' and that it is therefore unethical. We believe otherwise." (emb)