OTTAWA, Ontario – New requirements for labeling foods as halal have come into force in Canada.

All halal claims on food labels, packaging and advertising materials must be accompanied by the name of the organization or person that certified the product as halal. Halal food claims are voluntary, but if a claim is made on a product, then it is subject to the new regulatory requirement. Specifically:

“In the labelling, packaging and advertising of a food, the Food and Drug Regulations prohibit the use of the word “halal” or any letters of the Arabic alphabet, or any other word, expression, depiction, sign, symbol, mark, device or other representation that indicates or that is likely to create an impression that the food is halal, unless the name of the person or body that has certified the food as halal is indicated on the label, package, or in the advertisement for that food.”

Halal food adheres to Islamic law as defined in the Koran. For example, rules for halal include a single cut through the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe, according to the Halal Food Authority, and a Muslim should perform the slaughter. The animal must be alive and healthy before slaughter; stunning prior to slaughter is not allowed. Additionally, pork is forbidden.

The Canadian government first announced the halal labeling requirements in 2014. The government developed the regulation to curb mislabeling practices and to help consumers make informed decisions about halal foods. The market for halal food products in Canada is estimated at $1 billion.