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Food Safety Rules and Halal Certification in Indonesia

With more than 270 million people, Indonesia is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the world. In addition to understanding the origin, contents and safety of food and beverage products, Indonesian Muslim consumers are increasingly seeking assurance for Halal products consumed by them. 

There is also a growing Halal industry, as Indonesia is consistently ranked as the highest spending country worldwide for Halal food, with a total expenditure of US$173 billion (2019/20 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report: Driving the Islamic Economy Revolution 4.0).

In Indonesia, the safety and suitability of food for consumption by end–consumers is primarily regulated by the Indonesian National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM). BPOM’s role as food and drug regulator is to oversee, check, test, approve, register and monitor consumer products, including food and beverage imported to, distributed and sold in the Indonesian market to ensure they meet the minimum standards and requirements under Indonesian law. All food and beverage products, except for food and beverage products with a shelf life of less than seven days, are required to be registered with BPOM before they can legally be sold to end–consumers in Indonesia.

The BPOM product registration process is relatively straight forward and can now be done online. The product registration process consists of the following steps:

  • preparing the documents which are typically required to be submitted along with the product registration application, among others, a draft of the product label; certificate of analysis for food and beverage classified as high risk or medium risk;
  • the composition of the product; the certificate of free sale or health certificate; the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) validation certificate; information on the product code, production process and shelf life; and an authorisation letter for the distribution of the product in Indonesia;
  • submitting the documents along with the related distribution company establishment documents;
  • payment of the product registration fee; and
  • if any, responding to any requests for additional information from BPOM.

The product evaluation process requires a maximum of 30 business days, however, in practice, the time it takes to register a food and beverage product usually takes anywhere from two to twelve months depending on the type  of product being registered. Infant milk formula, for example, which is seen as a high risk product, typically takes much longer to register than tinned tomatoes, which is seen as a low risk product.

In addition, BPOM also regulates the labelling of food products, including the required product information and language to be used on food labels.

Under applicable BPOM regulation, food product labels must contain certain information, including, among others, the product name, the list of ingredients, the net weight, the name and address of the producer or importer, Halal information (if required), the production date and code, the expiry date, the distribution licence number and information on the origin of certain ingredients.

BPOM also requires that processed food product labels:

  • be in the Indonesian language; 
  • be correct and not misleading; 
  • be easy to access and read; and
  • include relevant warning if the product contains, among others, artificial sweetener, pork or pork derivative ingredients or is part of the same production process as pork related products and allergens.

Importantly, Halal certification and labelling on food and beverage products is also a paramount consideration for an increasing number of Indonesian Muslim consumers when considering what products they consume, and in 2014 the Indonesian Parliament enshrined this consideration into law when it introduced a requirement that all products, including food products, imported, distributed and sold as Halal in Indonesian territory be Halal certified before they can be sold to end–consumers. However, this does not mean that the relevant products must be “Halal” (or Shariah compliant) as products that are produced using non–Halal materials are exempt from the Halal certification requirement provided they are labelled “non–Halal.”

The Indonesia Minister of Religious Affairs has granted food and beverage manufacturers and suppliers a transitional period until 17 October 2024 to obtain a Halal certificate for their products, noting that transitional periods apply for other types of products (eg, drugs and cosmetics). Until then, food manufacturers and suppliers can continue to sell their products to end– consumers, and the Indonesian Halal certification body or BPJPH (Badan Penyelenggara Jaminan Produk Halal) has been tasked with supervising and training such food manufacturers and suppliers on how to obtain Halal certification for their products and to comply with the mandatory Halal certification requirement.

The Halal Law is one of the 78 laws amended by the so-called Omnibus Law on Job Creation (Omnibus Law), which was passed by the Indonesian Parliament on 5 October 2020 to remove a plethora of complexities and red tape across a range of existing laws seen to hinder business efficiency in Indonesia. The Omnibus Law has, among other things, simplified the Halal certification process and Halal certificate renewal process, with various matters to be further regulated in an implementing Government Regulation.

This article was first published in Trust on a plate: consumer confidence and food safety - part of Herbert Smith Freehills' Future of Consumer series. Please click on the link below to download the full publication, which also contains articles from China, Australia, the UK and Italy. 

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