Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Halal food sales surge in Canada

- LOIS ABRAHAM The Canadian Press

TORONTO A growing Muslim community in Canada has led to swelling sales of halal food, which has some grocers, manufactur­ers and eateries seeking ways to profit from the boom.

“It’s a huge business. It’s an $80-billion business around the world. In Canada, it’s about $1 billion and it’s growing ... by 10 to 15 per cent a year, which is quite significan­t,” says Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distributi­on and policy at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Halal means permissibl­e in Arabic and refers to foods that have been prepared according to Islamic law. Animals must not suffer when they’re slaughtere­d and must not see another animal be killed. Pork and its byproducts and alcohol are among forbidden items not allowed in the making of halal foods.

While Canadians are increasing­ly seeing more halal products stocked by the big supermarke­t chains, the complexity of the supply chain has led to concerns about mislabelle­d food or fraud.

Contaminat­ion and traceabili­ty were motivating factors for the formation of the Halal Monitoring Authority of Canada, says chief operating officer Imam Omar Subedar. A presentati­on on malpractic­es in the halal industry he attended in 2004 was eye-opening.

“What we were exposed to was really, really bad. There was just no ethics, no controls, no nothing.”

The HMA launched in 2006 with one certified chicken product. Now there are hundreds, with 30 inspectors in Ontario, three in Alberta, two in Quebec and a representa­tive in B.C.

There are plans to start operations in Saskatchew­an.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency approved guidelines for halal products just last year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada