Canada, a country known for its cultural and religious diversity, has witnessed significant growth in demand for halal food in recent years. As a result, the relationship between religious food law and modern food law has become increasingly relevant. In this article, we explore the history of kosher and halal labeling in Canada, the challenges faced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and the proposed regulations to provide more clarity and information to consumers about halal products.
History of Kosher and Halal Labeling in Canada
- Early 20th Century: Crisco was one of the first widely marketed kosher foods in North America. In the 1920s, rabbinical authorities in the U.S. and Canada began efforts to bring more oversight to kosher labeling and advertising.
- The 1950s-1960s: Greater supervision and certification for kosher foods emerged, and they began to gain popularity with mainstream consumers for non-religious reasons.
- 1973: Amendments to the Canadian Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) introduced the explicit requirement that foods labeled or advertised as kosher must meet all kashruth requirements applicable to that particular food.
Challenges for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
- The CFIA ensures clear and truthful labeling of foods, including religious dietary practices like kosher and halal, despite overlapping laws. However, it is not in a position to set up standards or make decisions that would intrude on religious matters.
- Varying Interpretations of Halal: Islamic law has varying interpretations of what constitutes halal, causing confusion and frustration among consumers.
Proposed Regulations for Halal Labeling in Canada
Labeling Requirements: The proposed halal rules would require a halal certification label or advertisement. This will provide consumers with more information to make informed choices.
Oversight and Accreditation: Unlike organic certification, the CFIA will not engage compliance verification bodies to oversee certifiers or accredit them. This responsibility will be left to religious authorities.
Timeline and Transition Period: The proposed regulation on halal will appear next to kosher in Division 1 of the FDR. After final regulations come into effect, the industry will have two years to comply with certification requirements.
As Canada’s diversity continues to expand, the intersection of religious food law and modern food law becomes more significant. Canada aims to provide better means for informed food choices through halal labeling requirements while respecting religious diversity. It accommodates the growing demand for halal food and reflects the needs and expectations of its population.