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Kashrut body gets major federal grant

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Rabbi Saul Emanuel

The Jewish Community Council of Montreal, which certifies kashrut under the MK heksher, will receive a $695,000 federal grant toward its initiative to enhance food safety.

Mount Royal MP Anthony Housefather announced on March 4 that the money will come from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriAssurance Program. The program provides aids to not-for-profit organizations, to help industry develop standards and systems to support verifiable health and safety claims about Canadian agricultural and agri-food products, Housefather explained.

Specifically, the funding will allow the council to better assist small- and medium-sized businesses to meet international food safety standards, including expanding information about nutrition and possible allergens.

“Health and wellness, food safety, social and environmental considerations are a priority for this government,” stated Housefather. “The funding ensures that the public will trust and have confidence in these products. I am proud that the council, which plays a vital role in our community, is a key player in building this trust and confidence.”

Council executive director Rabbi Saul Emanuel thanked “the government for continuing to work with us on this project for food safety, which commenced years ago and continues to evolve with the latest developments in food production.”

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Working with a company called Food with a Conscience, the council’s Global Specialty Food 22000 project is an online registry that small- and medium-sized specialty food suppliers can use to share up-to-date information with their customers. It allows them to assess where they stand in terms of food safety compliance, as well as to develop action plans and monitor their progress.

The Jewish Community Council of Montreal, also known as the Vaad Ha’ir, was established in 1922. In addition to kashrut certification, it administers the Beth Din of Montreal and a conversion program called the Ruth Institute.

According to information on its website, the council currently certifies 45,000 products from over 800 companies in Canada. It claims that its high standards of observance of Jewish law and the expertise of its supervisors in modern food production have made it one of the largest kosher certifying bodies in the world.