From the news desk

First halal testing lab to open

A year long ambition to establish the first halal laboratory is finally becoming a reality. The Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research (CPGR) has announced the launch of Tokeid Biotech, a new laboratory catering to the halal industry, the first of its kind in Africa.

Aptly titled ‘Tokeid’, which means ‘assurance’, the laboratory will assist in identifying contents that is contained within the food that we consume and will assist in taking the local halal industry to new heights.

The Centre for Proteomic and Genomic Research (CPGR) is a non-profit organisation providing state-of-the-art ‘omics’ services to the life science and biotech communities in South Africa. Through CPGR, halal bodies and independent individuals will have convenient access to high-end discovery and targeted molecular technologies that will provide comfort for consumers in the food that they consume.

Chairman of the board of Tokeid Biotech and chairman of the Kaaf Trust, Dr. Anwah Nagia, explained that for Muslims, both within South Africa and internationally, the content of food that is consumed is fundamental. This not only relates to the health of the consumers, but also extends to the ethical matters relating to the processing and packaging of food.

“Within the Muslim community there was always the issue around purity and naming conventions in food products,” Nagia noted.

The laboratory, though established to investigate the halal ‘worthiness’ of food that is consumed, will avail its resources to the community at large who wish to investigate the contents of questionable food.

The halal community will now be able to identify with “assurance”, through a precise science, the issues relating to the chemical contents of food that is consumed.

“You now can look at a label and have that label tested with confidence.”

Nagia explained that prior to embarking on this project centre first approached the main halal certification bodies in the country, including; the World Halal Authority and the Halal Trust of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).

“We have their unadulterated support for this initiative,” he stated.

Tokeid Biotech believes all halal bodies both within South Africa and abroad will benefit from these services since it is the first of its kind.

“This lab is the benchmark for Africa, and we have teamed up with the best minds and the most up to date technology.”

Managing director of Tokied Biotech, Kamal Salasa, explained that the lab will develop new technology, in collaboration with the CPGR, which will be aimed at assuring that questionable products are able to be tested.

Salasa affirmed that the centre is currently developing formalised methods of processing that will ensure that testing will be conducted according to international standards and best practices.

Tokeid Biotech, he explained, endeavours to provide testing at an affordable cost so as to provide even the smallest producer with access to this technology.

Salasa further noted that Tokeid Biotech is “in no way” trying to undermine the work of the halal bodies currently in existence. The initiative was however spurred on by numerous reports of the adulteration of food substances.

“South African halal bodies now have recourse to a scientific process that can back-up with absolute analysis of the product and can safely say [post analysis] that they endorse a product – at the moment they are totally reliant on a label.”

VOC (Thakira Desai)

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