Ramadan 2020: Be sure you know where your Medjoul dates are from!

This year we know that there is a good supply of fresh 2019 Medjoul harvest from importers/suppliers bringing product from trusted Palestinian sources. Please do your due dilligence to be sure that you do not buy product that comes from the Israeli company Hadiklaim via NBF or other sources, or from any other Israeli provider. All Medjoul that are coming from these Israeli companies are from illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

What you need to consider.

Step 1, check the label, and if it says product of Israel, do NOT buy.


Fruit and vegetables are one of Israel’s biggest exports and all Israeli agricultural exporters are complicit in Israel’s violations of international law as they operate on stolen Palestinian land.

In case of Medjoul the products are from the Jordan Valley in occupied Palestine, and therefore from an illegal settlement on stolen land. These are not from Israel, these are from illegal settlements.

Step 2, check the label and see if it includes a country of originThe product must have a country of origin but many do NOT. Do NOT buy if it does not have country of origin listed on the package.

There is at least one supplier in Canada, National Best Food/NBF which imports from Hadiklaim, an Israeli companyWho Profits has clearly documented the source of Hadiklaim’s dates as coming from occupied Palestine and Golan. Also, several countries have had victories of cutting ties to Hadiklaim such as South Africa.

Some products from NBF do say “Product of Israel” but others especially in stores where Arabs and/or Muslims shop have NO country of origin listed. The product simply says “imported by NFB.”

This seems to be illegal under Canadian legislation and regulations, and this was reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) during Ramadan in 2019. The CFIA has launched investigation in summer 2019, but had not reported back on the complaint at time of posting.

In many cases these NBF products also do not include the other mandatory labeling information such as a “nutrition fact table” or health & nutrition information, and also don’t include mandatory information in both bilingual languages. This was included in the complaints made to the CFIA.

In several cases product was found to have “Product of Jordan” on the shelf, but the boxes the bulk product was coming from was labeled NBF with no indication of country. When asked verification was not provided, and no indication that there is any organization from Jordan providing this product. Again this was reported to the CFIA.

Step 3: Print & provide this letter to the owner and/or manager of the store. Indicate the product and concerns in the template.

Or currently with Covid-19, you may wish to send email:

Template you can use to send email:

English

Arabic

Just copy & paste text from the above links to send email.

Step 4: provide pictures of the product including the labels (all sides of the box, and shelf labels), along with the store name/address and if possible website, to bdscoalition@gmail.com. We will use this information for further follow up with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and/or with the store.

Step 5: tell your friends and your family what you have found, and make them aware of what to look for in regard both product of Israel (dates, other fresh fruits & vegetables, other products). For more info check out Economic Boycott Resource.

Final Step: look for appropriate alternative ideally from Palestine. Labels you can trust are

Lara (their product of Palestine from Al-Rwad, also Sedra Dates – Sedrat Al Montaha Dates Trading Co. from Jordan)

Green World (from Al-Rwad),

Heritage (From Al-Rwad)

Al’ard,

Palestine Just Trade (from Al-Rwad),

Jericho Delights (via USA). 

Palestine Gardens – Sinokrot Holding

If a Medjoul product not from a trusted Palestine source, then verify that it is indeed from Jordan or the USA, or another trusted location. If you are not sure, please contact us at bdscoalition@gmail.com

Product you should avoid as they are packaged by Hadiklaim include:

BOMAJA BLUE

GOLDEN VALLEY

JORDAN RIVER

LA PALMA

KING SOLOMON

These are some products that have been seen in 2019 an 2020 including at Raba Markets (Missisauga and Toronto locations) , Al-Quds Market (Mississauga), Arz Fine Food (1909 Lawrence Ave E, Scarborough), and  Kabul Farms (230 Parliament St, Toronto)

Sold by National Best Food. Seen labelled as “Product of Israel”
Jordan River from National Best Foods. Sold without country of Origin. No it is not from Jordan. It is from the occupied Palestinian Jordan valley, from Israeli settlement via Hadiklaim.
More Jordan River from National Best Foods without country of origin. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is from Jordan. These are from Isreali settlement via Hadiklaim,
Golden Valley from National Best Food/NBF. No country of origin Packaged by Hadiklaim.
Sold in 5 KG and bulk. Store owners/managers report having been told it is from Jordan & thus, label from Jordan on their shelf. No country of origin. From NBF. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is from Jordan–ask for specifics about grower & exporter if you are told from Jordan.
Golden Valley Medjoul Dates (SEMI-DRY)
Golden Valley from Hadiklaim via NBF. No country of origin indicated in a number of cases. Sometimes have label saying “Product of Israel.” These do have bilingual info.
Image result for costco dates medjool israel
Medjoul “Product of Israel” label from Costco
Ameri Premium Dates by National Best Foods, no country of origin
Oriental dates, no country of origin
National Best Food, Golden Valley, no country of origin
Imported by National Best Foods. La Palma is brand of Hadiklaim in Israel. No country of origin.
Imported by National Best Foods. La Palma is brand of Hadiklaim in Israel. No country of origin.

We have written to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on May 7, 2019 asking CFIA to look into several concerns.

Concerns Raised with Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

Country of Origin

Our understanding of the requirement for fresh fruits and vegetables, which would include dates is that “Product of [Name the country of origin]” needs to be included. 

We take this information from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website;

The country of origin represents the country in which the fresh fruits or vegetables were grown. The country of origin must be shown on the principal display panel (definition) of imported prepackaged fresh fruits or vegetables and in close proximity to the declaration of net quantity or the grade name. The country of origin declaration must be shown in boldface type in the same size characters as those prescribed for the grade name [269(1), 270(1), 271, SFCR].

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/food/requirements/labelling/industry/fresh-fruits-and-vegetables

What we have seen includes: i) indicating from Israel when in fact from settlements in occupied Palestine; ii) no country of origin;  iii) indication on shelf that is from Jordan based on verbal but not verified information; iv) possibly other countries being listed on product.

Nutrition Labeling, Nutrition & Health Claims

We understand that specific requirements in regard to Nutrition labeling including the Nutrition Fact Table are required, with serving sizes and daily intake. 

What we noticed was that in many cases under various brands this information was completely missing.  The one exception seemed to be the Organic brand.

Bilingual Requirements

Our understanding is that the CFIA requirements are than mandatory information including country origin, sizes, business name, nutritional information, nutrition and health claims, and best before dates need to be included in both English and French.

What we noticed is this information is missing on essentially all the products observed.

Request to Canadian Food Inspection made indicating we would appreciate your attention to as quickly as possible addressing this, especially since Ramadan 2019 is underway, and people are purchasing dates for breaking fast/Iftar and Eid.

See letter sent to Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The letter was sent by registered mail as well as email to CFIA. A follow up letter was been sent by email on May 27, 2019, asking for information on when we would expect to receive a response. We were told it was referred to VP of Operation at CFIA. A follow up on August 4, resulted in another letter from Mithani Siddika, the President of CFIA, indicating that the Toronto Regional Office has launched an investigation. The Toronto Region confirmed this on the phone, but to date has not provided any feedback. In March 2020, President Siddika has been asked for an update on the complaint.

RESPONSE from CFIA: in April 2020, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has responded that it has worked with NBF to address labeling issues, however also indicated that Medjoul are considered “dried” and so do not need a country of origin. We have asked for clarification as Medjoul Dates (or other dates) would not normally be considered dried. We do note that Hadiklaim now is indicating on their website that Medjoul are semi-dried. We are seeking clarifcation

Letters were sent in 2019 to several stores in GTA that were carrying NFB or other products that are from Israeli settlements,, and in many cases were missing accurate labeling required under Canadian law. This included letter to Arz in Scarborough, Rabba Foods and Al Quds Market in Mississauga. NO responses were received.

If you see Israeli medjoul product (including those who are mascarading with no country or being sold as from Jordan for example) in these or other stores this Ramadan please take action–talk to the store manager/owner, don’t buy the product, ask them to stock Palestinian product from a trusted source, lets your friends and family know to avoid these products and insist that the store buy from a trusted supplier of Palestinian product.