Quebec looks to tighten regulations on kosher, halal meat production

VANCOUVER, Canada (JTA) — Quebec’s agricultural minister is looking to tighten regulations for kosher and halal meat production.

“We want the slaughter to happen in the most complete conditions of hygiene and cleanliness,” Francois Gendron said in comments reported last week by the Montreal radio station CJAD.

Gendron said he would announce a plan for new regulations this fall. A spokeswoman for the agricultural minister confirmed to CJAD that he still intended to release a plan, though she could not specify when.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or CFIA, oversees animal slaughter regulations nationally, so Quebec could only regulate meat that is produced within the province and not exported.

Dovid Russ, COO of the major Canadian kosher meat operation Mehadrin, told the Jewish news website Bill613.com that new regulations would be unnecessary.

“The CFIA has one of the highest standards of food processing,” Russ said. “Quebec is trying to get more involved for absolutely no reason whatsoever.”

Quebec’s Halal Meat Association told CJAD that it supported the new regulations because they could improve the public image of ritual slaughter, but said the changes were unnecessary.

“I think this misunderstanding is related to Islamophobia,” spokesman Mohamed Ghalem told CJAD.

The ruling party in Quebec, Parti Quebecois, drew flack from Jewish groups when it criticized ritual slaughter last year. In a statement in the spring of 2012, the Parti Quebecois said the slaughter of animals for halal meat production “slams directly against Quebecois values.”

“If you read between the lines there is really ethnic bashing, which in my opinion is odious, unacceptable and reeks of intolerance,” Lawrence Bergman, a Jewish legislator from the Liberal Party, told JTA at the time.

 

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