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Canada Announces Halal Labeling Regulations, Effective in 2016

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently unveiled new regulations for labeling of halal food products. The regulations require halal claims on food labels, packaging or advertising material to include the name of the certifying body, but will not come into force until April 2016.

It is important to note that CFIA is only requiring halal labels to carry the name of the certifying body and is not attempting to create a common standard for halal certification. The Rationale section of these regulations, as published in the Canada Gazette, offers the following explanation for this decision:

Canadian Muslims would ideally want the CFIA to establish regulatory controls over halal products through a standard. Regulating halal products through a standard is not feasible as there is currently no consensus among stakeholders on a common standard. The CFIA is therefore establishing regulatory requirements that will assist in providing consumers with sufficient information to choose their halal products based on what fits their definition of halal.

Some businesses are already voluntarily adding the halal claim on product labels and demanding certification as part of their marketing strategies. As a result, the requirement to add the name of the person or body that certified the food as halal on a label when claiming halal is expected to add a very small cost to the industry. Also, a two-year implementation delay will give businesses time to adjust to this new requirement and therefore further minimize any impacts.

Last year Canada was the second-largest destination for U.S. beef/beef variety meat exports in terms of volume (173,030 metric tons) and second-largest by value ($1.17 billion). For U.S. lamb/lamb variety meat, Canada ranked second in both volume (2,497 metric tons) and value ($5.96 million). While halal-certified products made up a small percentage of these totals, they are of growing interest to Canadian importers and distributors.

Exporters with further questions on this issue may email Cheyenne Dixon or call 303-623-6328.