A Toronto-area food manufacturer and distributor is facing criminal charges after allegedly trying to pass off ordinary cheese as a kosher product.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has laid five charges against Creation Food and one of its officials, alleging the company forged documents to knowingly sell non-kosher cheddar cheese to Jewish summer camps in the summer of 2015.
The alleged forgery came to light when a kitchen manager at one of the two Ontario camps discovered irregularities in the labelling and paperwork related to the cheese.
Court documents show the CFIA laid charges against Creation and executive Kfir Sadiklar, alleging they created and used forged documents as well as unlawfully sold non-kosher food to the two camps.
Neither the CFIA nor Sadiklar responded to requests for comment.
The allegations against Creation and Sadiklar were levelled by the Kashruth Council of Canada, an organization that certifies food as kosher throughout Canada. The council is commonly known as COR, the same label applied to foods that have passed the company's certification process and have been deemed suitable for those following a kosher diet.
Creation received COR certification for its manufactured food, but the company ran afoul of the certification criteria and lost its status in 2012 after numerous infractions, said COR managing director Richard Rabkin.
The company continued to act as a distributor of other products that were certified kosher, which is how it resurfaced on COR's radar in 2015, Rabkin said.
COR's statement of claim alleges that Creation sold a batch of Gay Lea Foods' Ivanhoe Old Cheddar Cheese to both the Moshava and Northland B'nai Brith summer camps in June 2015.
Gay Lea does produce a kosher version of the same product, which has been approved by COR and has a unique certificate and product code associated with it, Rabkin said.
Documents allege the kitchen manager at Camp Moshava noticed the package of cheddar cheese did not carry the COR label as usual and emailed Creation seeking clarification.
COR said Sadiklar emailed the manager a copy of the certificate that did not look quite right, prompting further investigation by the certification council.
The product code was not listed in COR's database, Rabkin said, adding a close examination of the certificate indicated the code had been altered.
Rabkin called the police, who then turned the matter over to the CFIA. The agency laid charges against Creation and Sadiklar on Oct. 24, 2016.
The CFIA said Tuesday it woudn't comment as the case was before the court.
The agency said it received an average of 40 complaints annually from consumers about potential food misrepresentation and investigates each one.
"The CFIA verifies compliance using various methods, such as investigations into complaints, facility or retail inspections, as well as label reviews and laboratory testing of products, including verification of the nutrient content or calories in the food," the agency said in an email.