Canada: Creation Foods Charged by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Last Updated: May 17 2017
Article by Devry Smith Frank LLP

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has decided to press criminal charges against Kefir Sadiklar, the Vice President of Creation Foods, for the first time ever.

Creation Foods is a distributor of food products, but mainly functions as a manufacturer and distributor of frozen baked, and unbaked products to local bakeries and bakeries in Montreal.

The charges related to Sadiklar and Creation Foods have to do with Creation Foods sending cheese to Jewish summer camps with the claim that the cheese was certified as a kosher cheese product, when in fact, it was not.

Sadiklar sent the fake 'kosher' cheese to two camps, Camp Moshava and Camp Northland-B'nai Brith. The CFIA alleges that forged letters of kosher certification were slipped into boxes of the non-kosher Gay Lea Ivanhoe shredded "Ivanhoe Old Cheddar Cheese", which these "strictly kosher" summer camps received in June of 2015.

The term "kosher" and what qualifies certain food as kosher is how it complies with Judaism's dietary rules. These rules outline what observant Jews can eat, as well as how food is to be prepared and handled.

With the case of cheese, a rabbi must add a coagulation enzyme during the first stage of production and also certify that the kosher cheese was not touched by non-kosher products on the line, from start to finish. To be sure you are purchasing a kosher product, packaging will bear a symbol to indicate it has been certified as kosher. For example, the most commonly seen symbol is the "COR" symbol. The symbol tells us that it has been certified by a special rabbi, a "mashgiach" and that the product may be consumed.

If non-kosher food is consumed by an observant Jew, it is considered to be "spiritual poison" that "affects your soul", says Richard Rabkin, managing director of the Kashruth Council of Canada, the council that brought this case to the authorities. The Kashruth Council of Canada provides kosher certification to over 1,000 businesses across North America, including Gay Lea.

In addition, kosher products are significantly more expensive than regular products, due to what the companies must go through during the production process. It is unknown how much extra the camps were charged for their cheese, but, what is known is that kosher cheese sold wholesale can have a mark up as low as 2-3 per cent.

The actions of Kefir and Creation Foods comes as a concern, as Creation Foods' past with the Council has been rough:

  • 2011: Council provides Creation Foods with kosher product certification
  • 2012: Certification was terminated due to violations
  • 2013: Council issued "kashrush alert" to businesses selling Creation yogurt cakes, stating they are not kosher and bear an "unauthorized" COR symbol

 

The CFIA takes these actions seriously, and they take action when a label gives a false impression to the consumer.

Luckily, for the overnight camps, they had noticed that the boxes the cheese was delivered in did not all bear the COR symbol. An employee then requested Sadiklar present them with proof that the cheese was fit to eat. He produced a kosher certificate for the product, after he had sent them the wrong one.

The employee then sent it to the Council headquarters in Toronto to be reviewed, and it was revealed that a number on the document had been photoshopped to match the numbered code on the box. If the employee had taken the document for face value, this discovery would have not been made.

Similarly, the second camp received unmarked boxes which the Council was notified about.

Fast forward to October of 2016, when the FCIA's enforcement and investigation services decided to press criminal charges. Kefir is expected to return to court on May 20th, and can potentially face hefty fines and jail time.

Luckily, the camps reported that they did not serve the cheese to employees or campers. Moshava sent their cheese to a mission for the homeless.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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