Bandar Seri Begawan - The Ministry of Religious Affairs yesterday handed a halal certificate to Fratini's Restaurant in Centrepoint.
"Fratinis is the pilot project. People always had doubts. Now we are certified. No more doubts. We can do the other four restaurants in Seria, Kuala Belait, Muara and Zaika's," said Adam Kalevic, Fratini's/RMS Group of Restaurants Managing Director.
He said he engaged the services of a private company, Ha Management Services, since February to help Fratini's attain the halal certificate "before the fasting month".
"Our kitchen has 100 per cent Muslim staff," Kalevic said.
"Going for a halal certificate is a business strategy. It can push sales up to 30 per cent or more," said Dato Abdul Rahman Mohiddin, chairman of HA Management Services.
He said his company, made up of retired professionals from the Ministry of Religious Affairs, is helping the business community to get halal certificates from the government.
"Our company gives the alternative service. We are not the authority to give the certificates. We are the facilitators.
"There should be two halal supervisors in every restaurant who know what is halal, what is haram and what food is in doubt. They are trained and certified by the Islamic Religious Council They are the 'eyes and ears' to ensure the establishment follows the rules.
"Getting a halal certificate depends on the menus. Every ingredient on the menu is audited for its halalness. If it is not on the list, an alternative is given. Fratini's has 200-300 items on the menu. Another restaurant has 800.
If the ingredients are halal-certified, then the inspection and auditing is made easier "Muslims view halal certified products as a mark of quality and that these meet their religious obligations. Non-Muslims view halalness as a mark of better hygiene and quality at no additional cost," Dato Rahman said.
He said when he retired in 2009, "at a prime age" after 31 years in the government service, he said he thought of doing something about the halal law passed in 2005 to help the country and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
He and fellow retirees from the Ministry of Religious Affairs set up this company, and introduced themselves at the Halal Expo two years ago.
He said four other restaurants have sought their services. A Japanese restaurant chain has submitted papers and attended preliminary meetings. Halal concerns on products used on Hari Raya cakes are being looked into by the government authorities, Dato Rahman said. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin