Jewish Organizations File Lawsuit Over Canadian Meat Slaughter Regulations

Canada currently relies heavily on imports to meet its demand for kosher meat, with only 30 per cent sourced domestically. PHOTO BY JAMES MACDONALD

By Hamodia Staff

One of Canada’s main kashrus supervision organizations, the Kashruth Council of Canada (COR), along with other Jewish groups filed a lawsuit last week against the government’s mandate on animal slaughter has severely curtailed the production of kosher meat.

The lawsuit, which was filed by the COR, Jewish Community Council of Montreal, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, states that due to the regulations, which require stunning before killing, or the performance of cognitive tests to ensure that animals are unconscious afterwards, shechitah has dropped precipitously in Canada over the past few years, and that the Jewish community has had to rely on imported meats, a situation that they say is not a long-term solution.

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“Since these new guidelines have gone into effect, the amount of kosher meat produced in Canada has decreased dramatically,” the three organizations said in a statement earlier this week. “The community has been trying to temporarily supplement this shortfall with imported kosher meat, but this situation is not viable over the long term.”

The laws were passed as part of Canada’s Safe Food for Canadians Regulations by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Shechitah requires animals not to be injured before slaughter; stunning would render the animal non-kosher according to halachah.

As an alternative to stunning, slaughterhouses are permitted to run cognitive tests on animals to make sure that they are unconscious after shechitah or other slaughtering methods are performed before proceeding with meat processing.

But the organizations who filed the lawsuit say that this takes far too long and doesn’t permit the amount of kosher meat needed to supply food to the community and run a business. As a result of the regulations, the organizations say that two of the country’s six kosher slaughterhouses closed down between 2022 and 2023, which has caused the amount of kosher meat produced in Canada to be halved – from 3,400 cows killed weekly, to 1,750.

Bans on shechitah, both successful and attempted, have spread throughout Europe in recent years; Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia and Estonia have made it illegal, along with two of three regions in Belgium.

The CFIA said in a statement that it “remains open to new scientific findings that can support animal welfare, and to listening to and engaging with stakeholders on the challenges they face as well as on potential solutions.”

The Canadian Jewish organizations say that they have submitted scientific evidence to the government proving that shechitah meets the guidelines of causing immediate unconsciousness, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

“CFIA is supposed to be a science-based organization and to date they have ignored the science,” Rabbi Saul Emanuel, the director of MK Kosher, the Montreal Jewish community’s agency, told the Toronto Star.

Source: Hamodia


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