By: Ir. Hendra Utama, MM
Communication Advisor of LPPOM MUI
The trend that is happening in recent days is the emergence of virtual kitchens or intangible kitchens (ghost/cloud/dark/virtual kitchens). They exist among nothing, manifest in the form of formlessness. Formal existence seems to have lost its fortune. Could this new model kitchen be halal-certified?
Ghost/cloud/dark/virtual kitchen is a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up to prepare special food delivery. They do not include display cases or indoor seating for customers. Unlike a virtual restaurant, a ghost kitchen is not a restaurant brand. It may even contain kitchen space and facilities for more than one restaurant brand
From a business perspective, there are several advantages to choosing a ghost kitchen in a world full of uncertainty. First, in terms of the cost of renting a place, it may be lower because you can choose a cheaper area or reduce the size of the facilities, or it can even be zero because it is done at home.
Second, in terms of risk, it is certainly lower because the resources sacrificed are low-cost—even if they fail, the level of loss can be reduced. Third, it is easier to adapt when the first product choice does not work or is not in demand by the market and can switch quickly to find products that are more needed or preferred by consumers.
Detecting this formless kitchen in Indonesia can be done through the facts that are currently developing. Through its website, one company that claims to be the number one intangible kitchen in Indonesia offers many parties to join their business car. This company is keen to provide its kitchen facilities, which can be used for enthusiasts to make particular food and beverage (F&B) products in the kitchen facilities offered.
In industrial practice, product owners who don’t want to sacrifice many resources and avoid high risk will seek out tolling facility owners without installing the facility themselves. Meanwhile, ghost kitchen service providers offer kitchen facilities as a means of production.
The two principles are similar; the product owner cooperates with the facility owner to make the customer’s product. The product owner only needs to think about the design, recipe/formula, and ingredients used.
Talking about the restaurant physically, the actual design consists of three zones, namely the front of the house (the area where visitors eat food), the point of sale (the area for paying orders), and the back of the house (the kitchen area and storage area). In the context of a ghost kitchen, the only zones that exist are the back of the house and the point of sale . With this concept, shoppers do not need to come to the location but can use an online food delivery application.
As a premise/facility for food processing, companies such as this kitchen—whether for the benefit of hotels, restaurants, or catering—are included in objects that are required to carry out the halal certification process by Act Number 33 of 2014 concerning Halal Product Assurance (UU JPH).
As a manager of a ghost kitchen, the product can be categorized as a service. Meanwhile, product owners can be categorized as producers. In regulations that require halal certification, the collaboration between the two can be regulated and provide different roles in implementing the Halal Assurance System (HAS).
This collaboration depends on who has a more significant role in managing the risk of critical activity. The halal status of the resulting product is always maintained throughout its validity halal certificate.
Halal certification for ghost kitchens can be done through the Halal Inspection Agency the Indonesian Council of Ulama (LPH LPPOM MUI). LPPOM MUI has obtained an accreditation certificate SNI ISO/IEC 17065:2012 from the National Accreditation Committee (KAN). Also, LPPOM MUI is recognized by the Middle East Accreditation Institute, Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA).
The obligation for halal certification for food products began in 2019 in stages but was still allowed to carry out the halal certification process until 2024. This rule means that without a halal certificate, a food company cannot sell unless its product is not halal and must be declared “non-halal product” on the packaging. (*)