The lowdown on what’s imported

Staff ~ The Sackville Tribune Post
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If there was any doubt in people’s minds about eating more local and domestically produced goods, look no further.

A report released Thursday by auditors at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency finds that food imports enter this country without full assurances that they meet federal safety requirements.

Agreements between Canada and countries from which it imports agricultural products are in some cases vastly outdated. And we thought ‘best before’ only referred to the specific product on the shelf.

The report also found that periodic audits of imported foods aren’t being carried out and that they vary depending on the point of entry.

In some cases standards stipulated by Canada are required to be met by the foreign supplier. In other cases, checks are done at the border.

But Bob Kingston, head of the union that represents federal food inspectors, said, “In a place like China, we can’t even get legitimate stats from them in terms of internal disease and pest spread.”

Inspectors also reportedly have trouble getting samples of certain products.

Surely, when it comes to the safety of food products, international trade stipulations would be secondary. If that’s not the case, that as well needs to be changed.

There are all sorts of other reasons why food grown closer to home is preferable. A country needs to protect its own food-basket regions. Transportation costs – both to retail prices and to the environment – need to be factored in.

Of course the other side of this is that quality controls for products from within Canada’s borders would have to be top-notch. Canadians know too well of sporadic food contamination cases within the country, but assurances of what’s imported is at best hazy.

Place the emphasis on the home-grown products, even if it means an extra challenge for domestic producers. If it results in the ability to stay in production they certainly won’t complain.

Organizations: Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Geographic location: Canada, China

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