Canadian vitamin firm wins kosher and halal approval

Firm wins kosher and halal approval
Prenatal multivitamins okayed. First Canadian drug to obtain such clearance

Laval firm specializing in research and development of medicine for
pregnant women says it has become the first pharmaceutical company in
the country to receive both kosher and halal certification for a
prescription drug.

Duchesnay Inc. said the certifications were
received from the Kashruth Council of Canada and the Islamic Society of
North America for its prenatal multivitamins PregVit folic 5 and

“Jewish and Muslim women now have access to a family of
prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements that comply with their
religious beliefs and related food standards,” spokesperson Christine
Walter said.

“Duchesnay is proud to dedicate the necessary
resources to meet the needs of women from various cultural or religious
communities in Canada with special nutritional constraints.”

director of marketing and communication said to become certified kosher
and halal, the 27 active and inactive ingredients in the multivitamins
had to comply with the requirements of Jewish and Muslim religious laws
pertaining to food. The ingredients in PregVit folic 5 and PregVit
don’t include any animal byproducts.

As the manufacturing,
packaging and handling processes must also meet certification
standards, the Duchesnay plant is subject to periodic inspections from
the certification agencies.

Rabbi Mordechai Levin, executive
director of the Kashruth council that guides the observance of kosher
dietary laws in Canada, said technically “anything ingested has to be

But he said in a telephone interview from Toronto that
there are exceptions for some medications needed in critical situations
adding that even some over-the-counter drugs are permissible under
religious rulings.

Montreal’s PendoPharm, a division of
Pharmascience Inc., which that produces and distributes private-label
over-the-counter items for major retail chains, already markets two
kosher products – its own Fluor-a-day chewable tablets containing
fluoride to help prevent cavities and a line of pediatric electrolyte
liquids from a kosher-certified manufacturer.

Walter said
Duchesnay is one of Canada’s smallest pharmaceutical firms because of
its niche: improving the quality of life of pregnant women and
safeguarding the health of their babies by filling the existing gap in
terms of scientific research, dissemination of evidence-based
information and development of medications for use during pregnancy and

“Not many other companies want to take the risk because two lives are at stake, the baby and the mother,” she added.