The low­down on what’s im­ported

Sackville Tribune - - FRONT PAGE -

f 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 home­grown 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.

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