One of Canada's top certification bodies for kosher food products will get federal backing to draft new HACCP-based food safety standards for kosher goods.
The federal government on Friday pledged up to $763,650 from the Canadian Integrated Food Safety Initiative (CIFSI) for the Jewish Community Council of Montreal to move into the second phase of its food safety project.
Once developed, the council's standards are to be made available for kosher food organizations across the country to put in place on a voluntary basis.
The proposed kosher food safety standards are to be based on Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP), an assessment model meant to minimize the risk of potential food safety hazards by identifying, monitoring and controlling specific points in a food production process.
Kosher foods require a unique set of production and processing requirements and the demand for these foods is growing, the government said. The council is already well known for its kosher certification work, seen on products bearing its "MK" mark.
During the first phase of the project, the council worked with kosher food industry players to identify and assess the food safety processes already in place and unique to the kosher food sector.
"With this groundwork now complete, the council will move forward with the second phase of developing kosher food safety standards," the government said.
Projects approved for funding under the "food safety systems development" component of CIFSI must be completed no later than the end of March 2013.
"At a time when Canadians are increasingly concerned about food safety, the kosher brand has become a mark of quality," council executive director Rabbi Saul Emanuel said in the government's release.
"This investment will further increase consumer confidence in the safety of kosher food and help build a more competitive sector," federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis said in the same release.
Kosher foods are processed according to Jewish dietary laws, which govern allowable ingredients and the status of equipment used.
Some foods, such as fruits and vegetables which require no further-processing, are always accepted as kosher, while others may only be considered kosher if accepted ingredients are used and processing is done under rabbinic supervision.
Certified kosher goods are processed under the supervision of a kosher certification agency -- an organization of rabbis, food technologists and field supervisors such as the Montreal council.
"It is becoming better known that checking the ingredients that go into a product is not enough," the council says on its website.