TORONTO, Sept. 24 (UPI) — The amount of imported food on Canadian dinner plates is growing, but the agency responsible for inspecting what Canadians eat isn’t keeping up, officials say.
An internal audit of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it has failed to develop a strategy to ensure that health hazards are not entering Canada in imported foodstuffs, The (Toronto) Globe and Mail reported Friday.
While meat, seafood, fish and eggs are subject to a wide range of controls, “imports of other food commodities rely almost exclusively on destination inspections and projects,” the audit says.
In other words, the safety of those foods is in the hands of the exporting country, officials say.
Imported food that is not regulated and not part of a comprehensive food-safety regime accounts for about half of what Canadians eat, one expert says, and sorting what is regulated from what is not is no easy task for consumers.
“Things like coffee and bananas that we don’t produce in Canada are not regulated,” said Rick Holley, a professor of food safety and food microbiology at the University of Manitoba.
That leaves Canadians relying to a large degree on the skills and diligence of food inspectors abroad, he said, as the CFIA is dogged by lack of resources.
“With the growth of the importation of food into Canada over the last 10- to 15-year period, these guys at the CFIA don’t have the resources and that is what this report is saying,” Holley said.
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