In a first-of-its-kind verdict, a court has fined an Ontario company $25,000 for forging a kosher certificate for food that wasn’t kosher, which it delivered to Jewish summer camps.
In late June 2015, Woodbridge, Ont.-based Creation Foods delivered cheese produced by Gay Lea to two summer camps, Camp Moshava in Ennismore north of Peterborough and Camp Northland-B’nai Brith in Haliburton, roughly one week before the children arrived. A food supervisor, who works for the council, noticed one of the packages was missing a kosher certification on its exterior and contacted Creation, Rabkin said. The company responded by sending a certificate that was clearly a forgery, he said.
Each kosher certificate issued by Kashruth and other certifiers comes with a unique generated code, said Rabkin. When the supervisor noticed the same code on more than one item, they knew it was a fake. The supervisor then tipped off police about the fraud.
Though the summer camps said the cheese wasn’t consumed, Rabkin said, “kosher laws are very sensitive and to compromise that, for Jewish children no less, is unfathomable.”
“Kosher labelling of food is voluntary, and it is up to the manufacturer to meet the necessary requirements. Foods that are labelled as kosher must meet the requirements of the kashrut, Jewish dietary laws, set out by a rabbi or rabbinical organization,” said Maria Kubacki, media relations officer for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
For cheese to be kosher, it has to be made with a vegetable microbial enzyme, poured by and supervised by either a rabbi or some other person of Jewish faith.”This didn’t meet at least one of those criteria,” Rabkin said.
During the trial, it became clear from emails with Gay Lea, Rabkin said, that Creation “knew the products weren’t Kosher.”
Rabkin said the forgery is unusual, given the low price-difference. “Gay Lea only charges 2 or 3 per cent premiums (for kosher products), so it isn’t big money for Creation. I’m not sure why they’d do it.”
“This is the first case the CFIA has brought before a provincial court related to the misrepresentation of a kosher food product. This case is another example of how the CFIA takes false, misleading or deceptive representations of a food seriously,” Kubacki said.
Creation Foods did not respond to requests for comment.
Source: The Peterborough Examiner