Canadian Government Funds Canadian Kosher Food Safety Initiative


kosher-foodThe Jewish Community Council of Montreal tells that it has received funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to launch a Canadian food safety initiative that includes the digitalization of food ingredients and audits of food processes.

“At a time when Canadians are increasingly concerned about food safety, this project strives to establish the kosher brand as a mark of quality and food safety,” explained Rabbi Saul Emanuel, Executive Director, Jewish Community Council of Montreal. “Through this project we, along with our partners across Canada, will be working with manufacturers and food retailers to build on this solid foundation to the benefit of Canadians wherever they live and whatever their religious beliefs. In so doing, we will be complementing the work of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which already applies the strictest standards to our food supply, and giving Canadians even more reason to have confidence in the safety and healthfulness of the food that reaches their tables.”

Kosher certification respects and enhances food quality and safety standards throughout the whole food supply chain, including raw and semi-manufactured foodstuffs and final products in all principal segments such as meat, fish, dairy, fruit and vegetables, bread and beverages.  Kosher foods are inspected and prepared according to specific regulations, and many foods can be qualified as kosher if the ingredients and preparation meet strict requirements.

The first step of the Food Safety initiative is to create a Canadian kosher council on food safety, in which the different kosher brands are invited to participate.  This is in an effort to standardize food safety processes for the kosher industry.  Canadian universities are also being asked to get involved in order to ensure objectivity of the food safety standards being developed. In this way, no single brand has a monopoly on the certification. 

“In the public’s mind, “Kosher” tends to be associated with the Jewish people and the dietary rules governing the practice of our religion,” noted Rabbi Emanuel. “But its appeal is broader than that, extending, for example, to vegetarians and individuals who are lactose intolerant or have allergies.”

A secondary benefit of the initiative is increased access for the Canadian food sector to a growing international market. The worldwide market for Kosher foods grew by 64 % to $12.5 billion in annual sales from 2003 to 2008.

Noting that the Jewish Community Council of Montreal was founded in 1922 by business leaders and leading Rabbis who recognized the need to centralize Kosher food certification in Quebec, Rabbi Emanuel stated, “We have the experience, capacity and technology to successfully implement this project. We demonstrated the merits of this initiative through a pilot project in 2010, and we will build on this foundation in the hope of having a national roll-out down the road.  We are confident that this project will lead to benefits for the industry and most importantly, for individual consumers.”

“We are grateful,” he concluded, “to the Government of Canada for the confidence it is placing in us.”

The Jewish Community Council of Montreal will be collaborating with other Canadian certifying agencies including British Columbia Kosher, Badatz Toronto, and the Ottawa Vaad HaKashrut, as well as Medina Quality Assurance Services and Food with a Conscience on the implementation of the Food Safety Initiative.  Medina Quality has developed, managed, and certified quality and food safety assurance programs for more than 30 years. Food with a Conscience is an independent food services consultancy that aspires to become the brand of reference for food quality, safety, and nutrition for consumers.

The Jewish Community Council of Montreal, otherwise known as the “Vaad Ha’ir” has established itself as the leading player responsible for the certification of Kosher food products bearing the MK certification mark, the Beth Din of Montreal, the Ruth Institute (conversion program), and many other aspects pertaining to Jewish life in Montreal.

{Noam Newscenter}