How many Halal certifying bodies are there in the world? Are they government agencies or recognized by the government?
There are hundreds of Halal certifying bodies in the world consisting of government agencies, religious establishments, NGOs and companies. 90% of them are non-government Islamic entities which are legally operated by Muslims. A large number of them are registered and affiliated with an accredited international Halal organization such as the World Halal Council (WHC) or their respective government authorities. Halal certification should not be inhibited with recognitions as it is against the Islamic rules itself where all Muslims adheres only to one Al-Quran and one God, Allah s.w.t. Dr. Ali Mustafa Yaakob, the Grand Imam of Istiqlal Mosque, Indonesia as well as the Vice Head of Fatwa Division of MUI Indonesia, in his PhD thesis entitled Maayiral-Halalwal Haram page 327and 328 with the firm conviction stated that the Muslim world need one Halal law in order to avoid conflicts and inconveniences.What is Halal in Europe should be Halal in the United States, and what is Halal in Asia should be Halal in Africa. And so on.
Do they follow and comply with the same Halal standards, rules and guidelines used by government agencies such as JAKIM?
Their very existence is part of their social religious obligations to implement Fardhu Kifayah for Muslims for the betterment of Muslim Ummah. In other words these Halal certifying bodies have one main goal which is to ensure that all Halal food and products offered in the market are indeed Halal and at the same time promotes the growth of Halal industry ultimately making more Halal products available for Muslim consumption and use. Yes, they do follow the Syariah Law, rules and standards in order to ensure that such goal is met and their responsibility as Muslims are fulfilled.
Are the products certified by them Halal and safe to be consumed and used?
As long as the certifying body is legal and endorsed by an accredited Halal organization such as the World Halal Council (WHC), YES, the products are Halal therefore absolutely safe and fit to be consumed by Muslims.