Canadians are wondering if meat from the United States is safe after learning 70 truckloads have evaded border inspections since January. That’s how many truckloads the Windsor Star newspaper said had risked fines to cross the border before inspectors from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) showed up for their new 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift times.
The new daylight only inspections began Jan. 4. The Star went public with its truck count on Feb. 19. Food entering
Canada outside of those hours designated for inspection must
wait until an inspector is scheduled to report for work before an inspection can take place and the truck can proceed to its destination. As a consequence, many
trucks choose to ignore the regulation and pass on through to Canada with their loads.
the U.S., every truck entering the country with food destined for its
citizens’ dinner plates is inspected. “In the States
if you miss going to an inspection, your fine is three times the load
you’re carrying,” said Marchuk, president of Windsor Freezer Services Ltd. Together with Border City Storage, Windsor Freezer Services is responsible for conducting the import inspections in Windsor. “Nobody skips inspections in the States
because it’s too risky,” Marchuk concluded.
In contrast, Canadian fines are considered a joke since there is no real consequence for breaking the law.
The border inspection companies have joined New Democrat Border Critic Brian Masse–who discovered the flaw in the border inspection at Windsor–in calling on the federal government
to implement stiffer penalties for long haul truckers who avoid inspection. They would like to see the Canadian policies and fines align with the US policies and ensure the Canadian public that every truck carrying meat be inspected.
Food safety has been at the forefront of Canadian minds since August of 2008, when 22 mostly elderly Canadians died during a listeria outbreak traced to the consumption of packaged deli meats made at a Maple Leaf Foods plant, despite the fact the company recalled 23 packaged meat products. Since this event, Canadians were expecting the food inspection regulations to become more stringent and effective, not to mention enforceable.
imported meat inspection regime needs to be strengthened immediately,”
said Kam Rampersaud from Border City Storage Ltd. (Canada). “US producers are becoming increasingly aware of the
standards at the Canadian border,” he warned.
“There is something desperately ironic about the situation where one
government agency goes overboard with a regulatory regime that
seemingly has nothing to do with actual food safety but that imposes
enormous costs on local small abattoirs and butcher shops while at the
border Canada has lost track of an estimated 70 trucks full of actual
meat products selected for inspection in the last few months,” said Grant Robertson, of the National Farmers Union of Canada.© Food Safety News