CANADA: More stringent inspection needed on food imports, say CFIA inspectors
Posted: February 17th, 2012 - 10:31pm
Source: Postmedia News
OTTAWA -- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is wrong when it says food imports are screened as rigorously as exports - and is creating a ``ticking biological time bomb'' in Canada with the lack of oversight, the government's food inspectors charged Wednesday.
Bob Kingston, president of the union representing CFIA food inspectors, took on the agency's claim during parliamentary hearings on the future of Canada's agricultural policy framework.
``There may be one set of rules, but they are certainly not applied the same,'' Kingston testified Wednesday about import inspection and testing compared to domestically produced food bound for other countries.
``Export inspection always gets top priority in spite of what CFIA may say publicly. It's 100 per cent versus two per cent.''
Kingston was responding to comments made during the hearings Monday by CFIA's Paul Mayers in response to a question from Conservative MP Ben Lobb.
The Ontario MP told Mayers ``one of the questions I hear from producers in my riding all the time'' is that ``CFIA is tougher on our own producers trying to export products into other markets than they are actually on incoming goods into our own country.
``In terms of our oversight - and this may be the basis for that perception - domestic manufacturers and producers see the CFIA in our actions,'' Mayers, CFIA's associate vice-president of programs, testified at the House of Commons agriculture committee. ``Of course, when we deal with imports, we deal with them as they reach our borders. The foreign manufacturer doesn't see CFIA as directly. That might contribute to the perception.''