Food & Water Watch: Don´t Scrap Food Safety Protections to Ease Trade with Canada
Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch
WASHINGTON - January 30 - "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S.
Department of Commerce are co-hosting two days of meetings this week with
the intention of reducing regulations to encourage more trade between the
U.S. and Canada. The first day of the meeting is being held at the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce, which gives an indication of who would benefit from
the changes being considered.
"The proposals, which were developed by the Obama and Harper
administrations, include reducing or eliminating the regulations for
imported meat, poultry and egg products from Canada. One of the proposals
is to allow imports from Canada to go without inspection at the border and
allow imported meat, poultry and egg products to be sent directly to U.S.
processing plants. This is an unacceptable change that abandons USDA´s
responsibility to U.S consumers.
"The reason that the USDA border inspection system was put into place to
begin with was to prevent contaminated meat from entering the country and
to make sure that trucks from Canada are transporting meat under sanitary
conditions. Recently USDA import inspectors on the Canadian border turned
away a truck transporting meat from Canada and a drum containing a toxic
chemical in the same truck compartment. This is just one example of why
U.S. consumers need imported meat to go through inspection at the border.
"Also, we understand that there is a proposal being considered that
would have so-called "trusted traders" escape border inspection
altogether, based on their food safety track record. We believe this
violates the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection
Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act because products would be put
into commerce without inspection.
"While the U.S.´s food safety track record is far from perfect,
Canada has also experienced serious food borne illness outbreaks.
Canada is still reeling from a 2008 outbreak involving Listeria
monocytogenes that killed 22 people. The response to that crisis
involved hiring over 200 inspectors, but on January 16 of this year, the
Canadian government announced that it was eliminating those positions.
Nearly half of our imported meat products come from Canada and the USDA
Inspector General has been critical of the lax enforcement of U.S. meat
and poultry regulations by Canadian food safety officials. Eliminating
U.S. inspections of meat poultry and egg products from Canada is
unacceptable and we urge the Obama administration to drop this proposal
that prioritizes trade relations above consumer protection." ### Food &
Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure
clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of
our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by
transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.