Kosher beef processing plant closed by CFIA

(Wikimedia Commons photo)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has suspended the production license of one of Canada’s main suppliers of kosher beef, but the Kashruth Council of Canada (COR) believes the suspension will be temporary and won’t have a substantial effect on the supply of kosher meat.

On Sept. 17, about two weeks before Rosh Hashanah, the CFIA suspended the license of Ryding-Regency Meat Packers, “because the company failed to implement effective control measures in accordance with Part 4 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations,” reads a statement released by the CFIA.

“The license suspension will be lifted if CFIA determines that the required corrective measures have been taken.”

Part 4 of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations addresses issues of cleanliness and sanitation, as well as the chemical contamination of food and the quality of the equipment used at the plant.

The CFIA said it is conducting a food safety investigation, but “there are currently no recalls associated with this inspection.”

Ryding-Regency, which also supplies beef to the Halal market, as well as the general market, was not available to comment.

Richard Rabkin, the managing director of COR, told The CJN that, “According to what I have been told, this issue was the result of some documentation that was not filed correctly and the matter will be resolved in short order. As a result, I have been informed that the impact to the supply of kosher meat will not be significant.”

Responding to a question about possible concerns over cleanliness and sanitation, Rabkin assured kosher consumers that “Kosher slaughter in Canada is performed at an extremely high standard, both in terms of kashrut and food safety. Canadian kosher consumers can be proud that their kosher meat conforms with Jewish laws that go back thousands of years, and at the same time is processed in a modern, sophisticated and food-safe manner.”

Rabkin said COR had six people at the plant, including shochtim, who slaughter the animals according to the rules of kashrut, and mashgichim, who supervise the kosher production process.

Royi Flescher, the manager of Magen Meats, a kosher butcher in Thornhill, Ont., said he’s “very concerned that if this issue is not resolved in the next few weeks, there will be a massive shortage in Toronto and a possible price increase.”

Flescher noted that “Ryding is a major supplier of kosher meat in Canada.”

According to Ryding’s website, the company is a family run business “dedicated to master butchery” that’s been operating since 1983.

“Our attention to detail means that all our products are cut and packaged to the highest specifications,” the website states, adding that the company can handle specific needs, including kosher, halal and hormone-free beef.