PHANTOM TRUCKS SHOW NEW MEAT INSPECTION REGIME NOT WORKING: New Democrats Masse and Allen say safety of Canada’s food at risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 12, 2010

PHANTOM TRUCKS SHOW NEW MEAT INSPECTION REGIME NOT WORKING
New Democrats Masse and Allen say safety of Canada’s food at risk

WINDSOR - New Democrat Border Critic Brian Masse (Windsor-West) says disturbing new information about trucks carrying imported meats that are failing to report for inspections shows that the Harper government’s new food-safety regime simply isn’t working.

“In the last month alone, an estimated 70 trucks crossing over to the Windsor area that were selected for inspection simply vanished,” said Masse.

“When the inspection facilities reported this to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), they were informed that the order to report would simply be changed to ‘skiplot’—the designation used to indicate that a load would not be randomly inspected. Rather than taking serious enforcement action against trucks not showing up for inspection, the CFIA response is simply to change their records to condone this outrageous behaviour. We don’t know what’s happened to these phantom trucks, or what was in them or why they chose to avoid inspection,” said Masse.

New Democrat Deputy Critic for Food Safety Malcolm Allen added, “It’s outrageous that meat entering the US is held to a more rigorous safety standard than food destined for Canadian dinner tables. This government must establish strict food inspection standards and provide adequate funding for the federal food inspectors who enforce them.”
Recent changes to Canadian import meat inspection policy have CFIA inspectors only available Monday-Friday, 8 am - 6 pm. Food entering Canada outside of those hours that is designated for inspection must wait until an inspector is scheduled to report for work. This impacts the quality of the meat, increasing the risk of spoilage, and it also interrupts the supply chain, which puts jobs at risk.

Current Canadian meat inspection regulations fall far short of the standards set by the United States Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which inspects virtually 100 per cent of meat products imported into the country.

“We should be looking to the American system if we want to get serious about increasing food safety in Canada,” said Phil Marchuk from Windsor Freezer, one of Windsor’s two inspection facilities. Kam Rampersaud from Border City Storage Ltd. (Canada) added, “Canada’s imported meat inspection regime needs to be strengthened immediately. US producers are becoming increasingly aware of the lax inspection standards at the Canadian border.”

-30-

For more information please contact:
Carole Saab, Caucus Press Secretary, 613-222-5997 or saabc@parl.gc.ca