Quebec looks to tighten regulations on kosher, halal meat production
VANCOUVER — 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,” Quebec Minister of Agriculture François Gendron said, in comments reported by Montreal radio station CJAD last week.
The minister said he would announce a plan for new regulations sometime this fall. A spokeswoman for the 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 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 they supported the new regulations because it could improve the public image of ritual slaughter, but said it found changes 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 party statement in 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.