IVON Widiahtuti job, is on the face of it, straightforward. As an auditor at the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Assessment Agency [LPPOM] :

An organisation in the leafy city of Bogor, Ms. Ms. Widiahtuti reviews the applications of companies hoping their products will be deemed HALAL :

Meaning that their consumption or the use does not break any of the strictures of Islam.

Lately, however, her job has acquired an absurd streak. Halal is a concept most commonly applied to diet, and Ms. Widiahtuti spends most of her time considering applications from food and beverage companies which want to assure Muslim consumers that their products are free of pork and alcohol, which devout Muslims eschew.

But some applications concern products that aren't edible.

Ms. Widiahtuti does not believe that CEOS are becoming more pious. But ordinary Indonesians are.

The country is home to more Muslims - some 230 million - more than anywhere else in the world. They, in turn, consume more products that have been certified Halal than Muslims anywhere else.

Companies spy opportunity. The number of products that received Halal certifications quadrupled between 2012 and 2017.

A small but growing share of such companies do not make goods that can be digested.

Over the past five years the Indonesia Ulema Council [MUI], a government funded body that issues  spiritual guidance to the devout and runs LPPOM, has given its seal of approval to the makers of a fridge, frying pan, sanitary pads, cat food and laundry detergent.

In an effort to boost exports and stay very pious, Indonesia's lawmakers have expanded the scope of certification yet further, however.

They have approved a law requiring all consumer goods to be certified as Halal from October 17th, last year.

Ms. Widiahtuti suspects that, in practice, the law will be applied only to certain products, but that is only an assumption.
''The scope is very general. ''What is the limit?'' she wonders.

The World Students Society thanks, The Economist.


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