The Globe and Mail is reporting that the U.S Agriculture Department has given the Canadian Food Inspection Agency until mid-March to fix significant food safety and sanitation concerns found during an audit of Canada’s meat, poultry and egg inspection systems.
CFIA met the “core criteria” for overall food inspection, but American officials identified “operation weaknesses related to government oversight, plant sanitation and microbiological testing” for listeria, salmonella and E. coli, according to a final report submitted to CFIA on Jan. 14.
Failure to fix the deficiencies could lead the U.S. government to delist Canadian plants that were audited from exporting their products to the United States.
CFIA issued a statement to The Globe and Mail late Monday insisting that food safety was not compromised and steps are being taken to improve the inspection system.
“It is important to note that none of the audit findings posed a food safety risk to consumers, including the identified sanitation issues,” CFIA said. “At the time of the audit, the CFIA inspectors were already addressing the sanitation findings outlined in the audit report and the establishments were already taking the required steps to fix the issues in question.”
The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) conducted the audit between May 28 and June 13, 2014, of slaughter and processing plants in Ontario and Quebec.
The audit found CFIA does not conduct ongoing environmental sampling and testing in food-production plants for Listeria monocytogenes (Lm), the bacteria that contaminated cold cuts produced by Maple Leaf Foods in 2008 that resulted in the death of 22 Canadians.
Food-plant employees test the surfaces where ready-to-eat meat and poultry is packaged but “does not collect samples or test for the presence of Lm on non-food contact surfaces,” the audit said. Continue reading “Safest food in the world – Canadian edition; US says clean up”
Last week, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) filed a legal brief in the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute over mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), arguing that the $3 billion sought by Canada and Mexico in retaliatory tariffs are a dramatic overestimation of damages. Continue reading “USTR Tells WTO That COOL Damages Are Much Lower Than Estimated”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is facing a backlash from small livestock producers and others over its move to tighten meat-labeling regulations, which would force them to separate animals based on where they were born, raised and slaughtered.
The step is being billed as a way to bring the U.S. into compliance with World Trade Organization agreements, but there are a growing number in the industry who argue it will alienate the country’s trading partners and force small American meat farms out of business.
“Only the government could take a costly, cumbersome rule like mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) and make it worse even as it claims to ‘fix it,” said American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle.
Boyle believes the proposed rule will make the current requirements even more expensive, onerous and disruptive.
The Department of Agriculture recently proposed the new rule for labeling muscle cuts of meat. That means beef, veal, lamb, pork, goat and chicken — which are now labeled as simply a product of one country or more — will have to include additional details including where each animal was born, raised and slaughtered.
The new labeling regulations would force thousands of meat processors and retailers to change the way they label products. The USDA estimates the initial cost would range between $17 million and $48 million.
The USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service began working on a rule change after the U.S. partially lost a WTO appeal in 2012. “The USDA expects that these changes will improve the overall operation of the program and also bring the current mandatory (country of origin labeling) requirements into compliance with the U.S. international trade obligations,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
The National Farmers Union praised the rule change as an “excellent response.”
Canada uses supply controls to help poultry, dairy farmers
* US producers see 2nd chance in Trans-Pacific Partnership
By Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON, Sept 24 (Reuters) – The United States must fix mistakes it made in the North American Free Trade Agreement by insisting in new trade talks with Canada on unrestricted access to that country’s poultry and dairy market, U.S. agricultural groups said on Monday.
“All we’re asking is that we have an open and free fair trade shot at the border,” Bill Roenigk, senior vice president at the National Chicken Council, said at a hearing conducted by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact.
Canada’s Conservative government, sensitive to sentiment in vote-rich Eastern Canada, has long said it will maintain supply-management measures for dairy, poultry and egg farmers. These measures largely entail matching production to domestic demand and levying high tariffs to discourage imports.
However, the government has also said all goods are subject to negotiation, both in talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership among 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and in free-trade discussions with the European Union.
Four-fifths of Canada’s 13,200 dairy farmers live in Ontario and Quebec, populous provinces that are generally critical to election success.
Roenigk said U.S. producers thought NAFTA, which went into force in January 1994, would eliminate tariffs on U.S. poultry exports to Canada and were shocked when Ottawa, as well as a NAFTA dispute settlement panel, took the opposite view.
Now that the United States has a second chance to address Canada’s poultry tariffs, the U.S. industry’s “view on this is the old Irish proverb: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” Roenigk said in his prepared remarks.
“The U.S. poultry industry strongly opposes Canada’s participation in the TPP unless Canada expressly commits to removing all border restrictions on poultry imports from the United States,” he said.
Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president at the National Milk Producers Federation, said U.S. dairy producers were also disappointed NAFTA did not open up Canada’s market and were determined not to let that happen again.
DENVER, Colo., Sept. 5, 2012 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Made in the USA Foundation led a coalition of groups filing suit against the World Trade Organization, the U.S. Trade Representative and the Secretary of Agriculture to keep the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling Act (COOL) in force. The WTO ruled this summer that COOL, which required meat from Mexico, Canada and other nations to be labeled as such, discriminated against imported beef.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court in Denver, Colorado. The case seeks a court order declaring that the World Trade Organization does not have the authority to override U.S. law. The Country of Origin Labeling Act requires all meat, fish, chicken and produce to be labeled at the grocery store with an accurate country of origin.
Canada and Mexico challenged the U.S. law at the World Trade Organization, arguing that the law unfairly discriminates against imports from these two nations. The WTO does not have permanent judges. The WTO appointed an appellate panel of three judges that included a Mexican lawyer who has represented Mexico in trade cases.
Joel D. Joseph, general counsel of the Made in the USA Foundation, said, “the WTO does not have the right to interfere with domestic laws of the United States. When the U.S. joined the WTO, it agreed to do so only if the WTO could not overrule U.S. law. More than 90% of U.S. consumers favor the Country of Origin Labeling Act. This law does not discriminate against any country, it merely requires labeling. Consumers have a right to decide whether to buy U.S. or imported meat, and accurate labeling is a consumer right.” Joseph added, “the WTO’s appellate panel was unfairly biased against the United States and should not have allowed a Mexican lawyer, with an obvious conflict of interest, to sit on the panel.”
This is the third major decision of a WTO court that attempts to overturn U.S. law. The prior two cases involved “dolphin safe” labels on tuna and a U.S. ban on flavored cigarettes. Congress allows tuna to be labeled “dolphin safe” if it meets specific requirements. Mexico complained that this discriminates against Mexican tuna because Mexican tuna is not fished in a manner that protects dolphins.
Indonesia filed a complaint with the WTO charging that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, that prohibits flavored cigarettes from being sold in the United States discriminates against Indonesia cigarettes. Indonesia produces clove-flavored cigarettes and wants to sell them in the U.S. The WTO ruled that the U.S. ban on flavored cigarettes discriminated against Indonesia.
The Made in the USA Foundation is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 to promote American-made products. The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) represents 5,400 ranchers and cattlemen in 45 states. Made in the USA Foundation and R-CALF were the primary supporters of the Country of Origin Labeling Act. Mile High Organics is a food distributor in Denver, Colorado that delivers food to homes throughout the state. Mile High Organics seeks to distribute local, Made in the USA food and supports country of origin labeling.
SOURCE Made in the USA Foundation