On July 11, 2017, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario issued a letter to vendors, which revealed an astonishing decision by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (“CFIA”). The CFIA took the position that wine produced from grapes that are grown, fermented, processed and blended in the West Bank cannot be labelled “Made in Israel” as that is “misleading”. Vendors were asked to stop importing the wines sold by two wineries (Psagot Winery Ltd. DN Mirrah Binyamin Psagot 9062400 or Shiloh Winery Ltd. Ma’ale Levona) that are labelled as “Product of Israel” and to remove all wine from the two Israeli wineries from store shelves.
Here is a copy of the letter:
The CFIA decision has not been released publicly. So, we must admit that the are dealing with the LCBO interpretation of the CFIA decision. But, there is no reason to believe that the interpretation is incorrect.
B’nai Brith Canada has spoken out against this CFIA decision. B’nai Brith Canada posted a news release on July 12, 2017 stating that it “is expecting that the [CFIA] will soon rescind its recent decision to order the removal of certain Israeli wines from store shelves.” Other Jewish organizations have also made representations to the CFIA and the governing Liberals about the incorrect CFIA determination.
The issue is wine produced from grapes grown in the West Bank and manufactured east of the Green Line. This decision has implications beyond wine. Is the Government of Canada asking Canadian importers of goods from Israel to make inquiries into the origin of ingredients and inputs? Is the Government of Canada planning to deny Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement preferential tariff treatment to goods manufactured in the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip? Is this CFIA decision going to be adopted as the position of the Canada Border Services Agency and other governmental entities? How far will this analysis be applied?
This is a different issue than Global Affairs (formerly DFATD and DFAIT) revoking chicken quota or not allocating sufficient chicken quota for kosher chicken or kosher cheese. These issues have been a source of frustration for years. The CFIA decision is more serious because it has wider application than wine and ventures into the realm of foreign affairs without justification.
This issue is also different than the recent domestic issue of misleading labeling of cheese as “kosher cheese” when it did not meet the requirements for being labelled as “kosher”. In May 2017, the CFIA laid five charges against Creation Food Company and one of its officials, Kfir Sadikla, alleging the company forged documents to knowingly sell non-kosher cheddar cheese to Jewish summer camps in the summer of 2015. On June 22, 2017, Creation Foods Company pleaded guilty and was convicted of violating section 31(1) of the Food and Drugs Act and was ordered to pay a fine of $25,000. This was the first time that a company has been convicted in a provincial court of mislabeling cheese as “kosher”.
UPDATE: On July 13, 2017, the CFIA reversed its decision.
For more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.