For years, Canada has allowed products imported from illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) to be falsely labelled as “Product of Israel.” CJPME and others have long argued that this undermines international law and contributes to Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land.
Forced by a legal case to review this approach, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently launched a public consultation into how products from so-called ‘contested territories’ (like the West Bank and Gaza) should be labelled. CJPME itself has already submitted a formal analysis asserting that Canada must no longer allow products from illegal Israeli settlements to be labelled “Product of Israel.”
Fortunately, the government consultation is OPEN TO EVERYONE! So a few original sentences FROM YOU about the need for clear “region of origin” labelling will really increase the pressure on Israel.
The CFIA is asking the following question: “For food products from contested territories, would having the… region… where the food… was produced… [help ensure that] the label is not considered "false or misleading"?”
CLICK HERE to open a properly addressed email and subject line. If the link doesn’t work, send your email to [email protected] with the words “Origin Labelling Consultation” in the subject line.
Please write an original, polite, and professional email, including points such as the below in your own words and/or citing the case of Palestine-Israel as appropriate. (Note: DO NOT copy and paste the below text):
- Yes, I fully agree that food products from ‘contested territories’ should be properly labelled.
- Labels should reflect international law and use the specific language of “occupation” when relevant.
- In the case of an occupation, labels must distinguish between trade with the military occupant, and the victimized population, and not conflate the two.
- Conscientious consumers have a right to know when products are made in conditions that violate international law.
Feel free to add more about how countries (like Israel) often try to hide the fact that certain of their products make use of land or resources that were illegally seized (from Palestinians). For more ideas, refer to CJPME’s submission. Note that the official government consultation is not about making broader changes in Canadian foreign policy, but only deals with how food products are labelled. Therefore, it is important to stay on message: we simply want Canada’s labelling to accurately reflect its existing foreign policy and align with international law.
The deadline for feedback is next Tuesday, October 10.
CJPME’s Submission to the CFIA
CJPME’s submission to the CFIA affirms that goods from ‘contested territories’ should be properly labelled as such, and emphasizes two further considerations in how these territories should be described:
- The CFIA must use the specific language of “occupation” to describe goods from the OPT, in order to properly convey the territory’s legal status under international law.
- CJPME insists that the labelling of products must distinguish between the occupying power and the occupied population; for example, labels should indicate whether a product is sourced from a Palestinian area under occupation or if it is sourced from an illegal Israeli settlement.
As such, CJPME recommends that the CFIA use the following labels to identify products originating in the OPT:
- Products originating in illegal Israeli settlements in the OPT should be labelled as “Israeli settlement (Occupied West Bank/East Jerusalem)”;
- All other products originating in the OPT should be labelled as “Palestine (Occupied West Bank/East Jerusalem/Gaza)” or “Palestinian Territories (Occupied West Bank/East Jerusalem/Gaza).”
More Information about Israel’s attempts to circumvent Canadian product labelling rules
The current CFIA public consultation follows several years of legal battles over the placement of ‘Product of Israel’ labels on wines from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Notably, a federal court ruled in 2019 that such labels were “false, misleading and deceptive” since Israel does not have sovereignty over these areas. Such labels contradict Canadian policy, as Canada does not recognize these territories to be part of Israel. They also violate UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which mandates states to distinguish in their dealings between Israel and the OPT.
At the same time, Canada has concealed the word “Palestine” on the labels of imported goods from the OPT, erasing their specifically Palestinian origin. CJPME hopes that the consultation process will finally resolve these issues and result in an appropriate labelling scheme for both.
Although the CFIA’s focus is limited to the labelling of food products, CJPME has elsewhere argued that the Canadian government must go further to prohibit trade with Israel’s settlements altogether. A recent report by CJPME, titled “Annexing Palestine Through Trade,” found that Canadian trade policy is bolstering Israel’s efforts to illegally annex Palestinian land.