Creation Foods has pleaded guilty to passing off non-kosher cheese as kosher by forging a kashrut certificate. It is the first time in Canada that a case concerning the misrepresentation of a kosher item has been brought in front of a provincial court.
The Woodbridge, Ont., company was fined $25,000 for two counts of violating the Food and Drugs Act, according to a statement from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which investigated the case.
“The fine is significant and may lead to improved future compliance under this statute,” the CFIA said in a statement issued July 5.
The charges stem from an incident in June 2015, when non-kosher cheese was sold to two Jewish summer camps, Camp Moshava and Camp Northland-B’nai Brith. The CFIA found that Creation Foods “sold a non-kosher food product … by means of a forged kosher certificate,” according to the statement.
A mashgiach, or kashrut supervisor, working for the Kashruth Council of Canada (COR) at Camp Moshava noticed that the cheddar cheese delivered to the camp did not have a kosher symbol on the label, while another package of cheese did, and asked Creation Foods for a certificate, which it sent.
According to the agreed statement of facts presented in court, that certificate turned out to be false, to make it appear as if the cheese was kosher.
COR then brought the case to the attention of the federal inspection agency.
Lawyer Julianna Greenspan, who represented both Creation Foods and Kefir Sadiklar, the son of owner Nissim Sadiklar, said the family was relieved the case had concluded. Criminal charges of forgery and fraud against both Kefir Sadiklar and the company were withdrawn, she said.
“The company took responsibility with respect to the document,” she said in an interview.
“The evidence was not there, nor was it presented. It was an allegation that Kefir Sadiklar was responsible for any of these things.”
Richard Rabkin, managing director of COR, said he was “pleased” the case had ended.
“We are gratified and thankful to the CFIA and the Canadian judicial system for prosecuting this crime so vigorously,” he said in an interview. “It shows their respect for kosher consumers and for all Canadians that what a product claims to be, is in fact what it is.”
Rabkin described the case as a “milestone,” since it is the first time the provincial courts have dealt with the mislabeling of kosher products.
“It is the first case, primarily because the vast majority of people that are manufacturing food are honest and upstanding,” Rabkin said. “Certainly mistakes happen, but usually those mistakes are oversights or get corrected. Our first strategy is to work with companies that make mistakes and help them improve their kosher programs.
“This case is different and that’s why we felt it should be pursued so vigorously.”
Creation Foods was supervised by Badatz, an alternative kosher supervisory agency to COR, at the time of the incident.
Rabbi Moshe Bensalmon, kashrut administrator for Badatz, said his company will continue to supervise Creation Foods. However, he wished that COR had taken the matter to a beit din (a rabbinic court), or worked privately with Creation Foods, instead of taking it to court.
A fine could have been levied that would have gone to the community, he said in an interview.
‘It doesn’t give you a green light to slaughter the guy publicly’
This was Creation Foods’s first offence, he said. “For the first time, you have to have a little understanding. It doesn’t give you a green light to slaughter the guy publicly in front of the whole community, the whole city and throughout the world,” said Rabbi Bensalmon.
Rabkin, however, said cases brought to the beit din usually involve financial claims. “Here, Canadian laws were broken,” he said. “We forwarded information to the authorities, but it was the Crown that decided to lay criminal fraud charges and charges under the Food and Drug Act.”
Nissim Sadiklar, the owner of Creation Foods, could not be reached for comment.