Edible Bird’s Nest Halal Compliance, Nutritional Nvalue and Medicinal Benefits

A special interview with Mr Tan Chee Hong, Group Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Bird’s Nest (RBN) Global

Health has increasingly become a real concern for many people around the world. Many diseases are being discovered and widely spread in various regions of the world, some of which does not have effective cure. It is believed that this disorder of the Earth’s environment is due to the interference of man through industrialised behaviour in all major cities worldwide. Air pollution, chemical and nuclear emissions reached unbearable levels. This, along with the active elimination of rain forests, is threatening the existence of life on our small planet. Eating and lifestyle habits are also among the most identified reasons of deficiency for many people, which in turn impact their productivity.

Eating and lifestyle habits are among the most identified reasons of individuals’ deficiency, which impacts organisational productivity. And this, in turn, leads to national deficiency.

While this represents the bitter truth of today’s world, hope remains in the efforts of those who work to recreate and promote a healthy way of life by coming back to the natural substances which possess great benefits without harming the environment. Among other solutions, the edible bird’s nest is one that is proved to be effective. Scientific researchers have found that the main ingredients of edible bird’s nest are water-soluble protein, carbohydrate, trace elements of calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, iodine and 18 types of amino acids that promote growth and development of the body.

The name may sound strange if you are hearing it for the first time, edible bird’s nests!! But after you understand its meaning and when you realise its benefits, you probably are going to use it and recommend it to others. Edible Bird’s Nests (EBNs) are created by swiftlets using solidified saliva, which are then harvested for human consumption. They are particularly prized in Chinese culture due to their rarity, and supposedly high nutritional value and exquisite flavor. Two questions may strike still strike the mind of those knowing about EBN for the first time: why would we destroy those animals’ homes, is it fair for them? and how to consume bird’s nests, is it not disgusting?

The Royal Bird’s Nest Sdn. Bhd. has been awarded and widely recognised not only in Malaysia but also in the region of Asia Pacific. It currently aspires to gain global recognition by venturing into several Western markets.

The answer to both questions and many more information are presented in this article, which is based on a special interview with Mr Tan Chee Hong, Group Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Bird’s Nest (RBN) Global. He took us around every corner of the company explaining the various products and services the company offers to different target groups. The first thing we experienced was a wall full of awards and certificates of recognition, which the company proudly presents to its visitors. It entered Malaysia Book of Records. The Asia Pacific Bird’s Nest Enterprise classified it among the top excellent brands. It also won the award of the Independent Entrepreneurs Efficient Convention (IEEC) in addition to many other awards.

Also presented to the visitors is a world map that shows the different countries in which RBN operates. In Malaysia, the company has branches in Penang, Terengganu and Johor Bahru. The company also ventured in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Australia, India and the UK. However, RBN’s aspiration is to reach more markets in West Asia and the Middle East, Europe and both North and South America. Mr Tan mentioned the deals RBN has recently sealed with companies in the Middle East, especially in Dubai. He also confirmed the movement of the company to the US market very soon through their newly opened branch in Cayman Island.

“We have already set-up a company on Cayman Island by the name Royal Bird’s Nest Cayman Limited in February last year. Next we are going to inject all the assets into Cayman, which will subsequently become a transit point to reach the US market. We are the first company to reach there.” Mr Tan Chee Hong

Soon after that, we have received the answer to the first question, listed in the beginning: “why would we destroy those animals’ homes, is it fair for them?” Without us asking about it, Mr Tan showed us an exclusive international certificate of “Eco Warranty Standard 2016.” This standard is higher than ISO 14000, which mainly acknowledges the compliance of an organisation and its status as environmentfriendly within its premises. “The Eco Warranty Standard, however, is looking at the interaction of the company with its surrounding environment. It considers how we deal with the environment, the way birds are raised and treated, the safety and health of humans —all governed by ethical and moral practices.

“We do not harvest cave nests. We do house nests,” said Mr Tan. The RBN establishes accommodation for the birds equipped with CCTV and Radio Frequency Identification Devices (IRFD), which is a service provided to clients to trace the safety and suitability of the food offered to the birds, he added. “If we serve our bird’s nest products in London or in New York, clients can easily track that it is coming from Royal Bird’s Nest, whose Eco Park is in the state of Terengganu in Malaysia. They can even know which level of which house this exact product is coming from,” Mr Tan explained. This makes clients more confident about the products they consume, and no company in the world provides such service except RBN

Furthermore, Mr Tan highlighted that there are sensors all over the birds’ houses within the Eco Park in Terengganu which can be accessed from the office in Kuala Lumpur (500 km away) to check the temperature, humidity and oxygen level inside the houses. More interestingly, no electric generators are used anywhere in the houses of the Eco Park. “We only use solar panels to absorb and save energy from the sun. This energy is then used to generate the sound which attracts the birds and make them stay in the houses,” said Mr Tan. So the birds are not even forcefully kept in the houses.

“Malaysia is the only country in the world that has guidelines and regulations for the edible bird’s nest industry under the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry. RBN is the only company complying with those regulations” Mr Tan Chee Hong

As we were moving with Mr Tan around the various departments of the company, we entered a room where we realised it was time to get an answer to the second question “how to consume bird’s nests, is it not disgusting?” In addition to the raw white colour nests, the room was full of diversified sets of bird’s nest products including functional food, health supplement, skin care and lifestyle. Mr Tan slowly explained the various products starting by the EBN Soy + Synbiotic, which helps detoxifying the body before other EBN products are consumed.

Moving on, Mr Tan showed two meals that can be consumed for breakfast Colostrum and Soy Plus. The nutritious value of RBN’s products is its bond with other products that are highly recognised for their health benefits. For example, the EBN is combined with Tongkat Ali and Kacip Fatimah, which are very famous in Malaysia and the region for their health benefits for men and women in addition to their ability to treat common diseases. RBN Global gets use of those benefits and mixes them with the EBN to produce more powerful substances. Nevertheless, the combination is based on precise process of research of the computability of the mixed substances to eliminate any possible negative effects.

Under the lifestyle category of products, the RBN produces 4 in 1 White Coffee and 4 in 1 Sucralose White Coffee to suite the taste and preference of different people. Again, the RBN partners with one of the top coffee producers in the world, Haco. Another unique invention of the RBN is their skin care products. It is unique because it is very effective and very safe. This is because a product like Hexacellz Plus can be applied on the skin and at the same time consumed in the mouth. While Hexacellz includes six elements in its ingredients, Mr Tan revealed a plan to produce a 9-element product by June 2017 which includes more health benefits.

Normally, people perceive that EBN products are only consumed by Chinese people. The RBN works to change this perception by providing the health benefits and nutritious values to more people around the world.

Mr Tan told us that his main concern currently is to explore every opportunity for the development and research of Swiftlet product range. As explained earlier, the RBN is very excited to venture into new markets —considering the value and reputation of its products. In particular, he expressed their strong desire to promote the RBN products, which fulfill the requirement of the Halal certification and carry its logo, in the Muslim market. For that, the marketing team of the RBN has already prepared brochures about each product in the Arabic language.

“We are the only Bird’s Nest company in the world that received the ‘Eco Warranty Standard’. Many companies claim to take care of the birds, but their practices show otherwise. They usually work based on tenders, so when they go to the caves, they try to harvest as many nests as they can in a limited period of time without looking what is inside those nests; eggs or baby birds.” Mr Tan Chee Hong

Responding to an invitation from Mr Tan, the OIC TODAY team will soon visit the Eco Park of the RBN in Terengganu to observe the process of caring for the swiftlet birds in their houses which costs millions to ensure healthy environment for the birds to settle in the park.